WHAT KATRINA REALLY SHOWED:
Katrina blew the circuit board. The one thing that I am pretty sure of when talking to Americans is the deep seated belief in American "exceptionalism." "America does it better. It will last longer. It will always be number one, because WE HAVE A MISSION!" Bluntly, God is on our side: "He favours our undertakings," as the dollar bill points out.
Well, maybe God doesn't. After all, we had an enormous hurricane, and we have another barrelling down, into God-fearing Texas, no less. You could argue that the heathens in Indonesia might have deserved it, in the best of all possible worlds, but Texas? Oh well.
Anyhow, what really hurt in this awful mess was the exposure of this country's complete unreadiness to tackle big disasters. Maybe it didn't take any longer to respond than in any other major disaster here (I'll wait for the inquiry on that), but this much is clear: It looked really, really, really, bad. Paralyzed leadership, carefree Marie ANtoinette attitudes, exposure of the rift between rich and poor, black and white. And appearance means an awful lot in this post-modern American world. America appeared to react like a LDC (less developed country). That was ugly. ANd that will hurt. When Bangladesh sends aid to us, that is telling us something (and its not that we are all one big happy world family, helping each other out in a crisis...).