2005-01-13 / View From the Middle

Some Too Quick To Condemn Our Early “Stingy” Contributions View From The Middle

By Charles Rogers

Sorry, folks. I don’t agree with those who complain about the original so-called “stinginess” of the United States in our relief contributions to the tsunami disaster in South Asia two weeks ago. In defense, I must say we weren’t aware of the extent of it when our government said — almost immediately upon hearing of the tragedy — we would give $15 million in aid. It was obvious that the immediate communication about the damage, including the loss of life, was only what was expected , not the reality. Those who would be first in line to condemn our administration for being supposedly lax at the time, obviously are using this instance to grind their axes. It only shows their shallow pettiness.

We’re not bad guys. Despite the bitterness of our own recent elections — those feelings still grind the teeth and shape the opinions of those who despise the current administration (I think “despise” is the proper word; look at the Barbra Streisand web site or listen to Al Franken and draw your own conclusions. No, better yet, check out their prejudiced conclusions).

As you know, as soon as word of the tsunami tragedy came from United Nations’ official Jan Egeland, we were in the forefront — as we always have been — of those willing to give as much as possible to help. Because the State Department acted too fast in their reaction only says they acted too fast . The point is that they wanted to act — fast!

It was Egeland’s unfortunate decision to use the word “stingy” when describing our support; a word he admittedly regretted, he said, not more than a matter of hours later (could it have really been a day?). He even apologized, noting that our prosperous country had always been first in line when it comes to giving aid, especially in these times.

Yes, our reaction was “knee-jerk,” and yes, we should have investigated the extent of the tragedy before even making a statement of how we would help, but mark you this: there were too many people willing — wanting — to condemn our decision. It was as if they were waiting to strike at the first supposed indiscretion with international bearing, aside from the Iraq debacle. As if it was time for them to “get back” at that s.o.b. who stole the White House — a second time. “We’ll show him,” they were saying. “We got him now!”

Most critics shut up soon enough when they saw our eventual donation, including money, food, clothing and, yes, manpower. All of a sudden the naysayers became quiet, except for the whimpers of those who are still saying “yeah, but we only offered $15 million at first, until there was an outcry from others that we weren’t offering more.”

Well, don’t be absurd! The record of the United States when it comes to giving aid to those in need speaks for itself! There is no other country that gives more for charity when it comes to helping others around the world.

Talk about shallow!

As they say in Brooklyn, “Youse got some noive!”

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