American Views Abroad

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
'....I'd say it was a long time since the people in this picture actually put themselves in Schiavo's shoes because as far as I can see, this nation's out of the habit of practicing empathy. Plastic pathos, sure, and for-profit compassion -- there's plenty -- but, actual honest-to-your-god empathy? You tell me. I think 'do unto others as you'd have others do unto you' is on life support in George W. Bush's America. Don't believe me? Ask the Afghans. Ask the Iraqis. And maybe I'm going out on a limb here, but if you could, I'd say you could ask Terri Schiavo.'
from Laura Flanders, host of The Laura Flanders Show, heard weekends on Air America Radio and read at

This quote fits in to what I encountered last weekend. The only American attending a two day music seminar, I was, unfortunately, center-of-attention during lunch and coffee breaks. At first there was cautious, subtle probes at what my thoughts might be on Bush and his politics and since I never make a secret out of where I stand, there came a storm of questions, almost pleas, about when Americans are going to start protesting -- on a large scale -- the War in Iraq or drilling in Alaska. I was at a loss for words. March 19th did not bring people out in hundreds of thousands. Trying to explain that one poor woman's plight had grabbed the attention of the media and particularly Congress and induced the President to fly back from Texas to sign a law at 1 am was met with disbelief and at times with stunned silence. Of course, I am now experienced at observing such silence ever since November when I was forced to try to explain the 'moral issues/right to life' movement and how that was instrumental in Bush being elected. There was a good sized article on 'What's the Matter with Kansas' two weeks ago in the Frankfurt Sunday paper (FAZ).

Do you feel homesick for the US these days? I was asked. The person was polite and kind enough not to expect an answer. Instead I heard how her son spent three years working in Washington, DC but today he's in Indonesia and will probably stay in Asia. It would have been too much to delve into how I feel homesick for the America of my youth, or at least parts of it.

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