This might not be as relevant to you as it is to me.
I live in Norway, a small thumb of a country on the far north of the globe, and we’re a really small people with great thoughts about ourselves and the naive notion that everybody else in the world is as fond of us as we are. About twenty years ago we struck oil off our coasts and with the help of international specialists and investors we managed to launch a superb oil supply to Europe making us one of the richest countries in the world.
.. meaning shit.
All we really have is wood and fish and politicians are making sure to make the life of the people working with this too hard, so that they eventually will have to give up and we’re left with only one export article. An article we haven’t produced, earned or deserve. We were just lucky.
Still, the catastrophe in Asia with more than a 100,000 people killed in the tsunami following an earthquake measuring 9,0 on Richter’s scale is referred to as a ‘Norwegian catastrophe’. Norwegians, you see, being all rich are happy consumers of the pleasures Thailand can give you: sexually transmittable diseases, underpriced drugs and child prostitution. And there are those who like to stay out in the sun too.
Yes, we are indeed intrigued by the power our oil money can give us in the land of the poor. Look at me! I get away with crime! Look at me! I am a golden God.
New York Times statistics updated on the 3rd of Januar 2005 states that:
- Indonesia: 94,081 people were killed on Sumatra and small islands off its coast.
- Sri Lanka: 30,196 killed. About 1 million people were displaced. Authorities said Monday that the country’s death toll was likely to top 35,000 with more than 5,000 people still missing.
- India: The government said 9,479 deaths have been confirmed but nearly 4,000 more were missing in India’s remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, just north of Sumatra.
- Thailand: 5,187 dead, including 2,230 foreigners. 3,810 missing.
- Somalia: 200 killed.
- Myanmar: 90 people killed.
- Maldives: 80 people dead.
- Malaysia: 68 people dead.
- Tanzania: 10 people killed.
- Bangladesh: Two killed.
- Kenya: One killed.
- …The United Nations estimates the total number of dead will reach 150,000.
(Numbers are a courtesy of the New York Times’ website)
Still this is a Norwegian catastrophe.
Nature has immense power and whatever priests may preach currently, there is no one to blame for its destructions. The Norwegian media has really found this convenient.
I don’t have a television set at home, but last night I visited my family and watched the 9 o’clock news. The entire broadcast lasted 26 minutes, as usual, and 100% of its content were related to the natural disaster in Asia. A small (estimated) 10% was about Indonesia. The rest was Norway-related. Even the short sport-section was about one obscure soccer team’s trainer who’d lost his wife and one of the kids. And please don’t get me wrong. This is really awful, no one can say losing your loved ones so suddenly is a good thing, and I agree that it is a catastrophe. At the time of writing one of my co-workers are chatting with a father who lost his twenty year old son. It’s horrible! A catastrophy, yes. But this is neither a Norwegian catastrophe or the only catastrophe going on today.
From what I saw on yesterday’s news, I could’ve bought a bottle of champagne to all my friends and celebrated till early morning because:
- The Iraq war is over
- No one is starving any longer in Africa
- The Middle East issue solved itself
Because there was nothing about the news on the news.
How on earth am I supposed to learn that currently:
- 183 people were killed in a fire in Argentina, injuring more than 700?
- 10 people were killed and 58 wounded in a bombing in Baghdad?
- Israel killed 7 Palestinian farmers in a strawberry field?
- President Putin "degraded" a senior advisor for showing distrust towards the governments’ handling of the Yukos affair?
Is this not censorship?
And the selectivity of this small spectrum of events, is it not racism?
I regret to admit that this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way about Norwegian media, and up until now I’ve been able to ignore it and seek alternative means of finding relevant information about current events. But I’ve had enough.