Max Lance Typing

What’s The Right Amount of Sadness For a Disaster on An Unincorporated American Territory?

Samoa's disaster conjured halfway between Indonesia tsunami sad and Katrina sad

Samoa's disaster conjured halfway between Indonesia tsunami sad and Katrina sad

The tsunami that hit American Samoa a couple days ago has been very traumatic. It’s not because I’m shaken over the deaths or live near the coast and worry about people I know in California. Instead, the problem is that I can’t figure out how much patriotic sadness I’m supposed to express for an American territory.

I feel like I’m supposed to show a lot more sadness than if the disaster had hit Sri Lanka. But not as much sadness that I would show if the disaster hit Florida. I mean, they are kind of American, right? So am I supposed to be kind of sad?

This is my major problem with colonization; how do you empathize with some sort of brethren, who are technically your countrymen, but it has an asterisk with it?

I think that this is the middle ground of sadness that England must have felt with it dominated the world with its Empire. If only they blogged in the 18th Century, we would have a reference point for how someone in England felt if someone in Australia was eaten by a shark. Probably sadder than if it happened in the Philippines, but not nearly as sad as if it had happened in Leeds. Although I think people wouldn’t act sad, so much as very surprised if someone died of a shark attack in Leeds, not only because there are no sharks in the North Channel, but because Leeds is land locked.

So what can I do to half-ass show my support for my semi-countrymen in Samoa without selling out real Americans (aha! I just discovered what Palin meant when she referred to real Americans. It’s non-American Samoans, those impostures)?

Could I hang an American flag on my lawn with 50-and-a-half stars? How will they know I’m not referring to Puerto Rico? We could send them some of our top recent immigrants to try and restart their infrastructure? It’s really a bit of a jam.

And then I realized how I could show my support for American Samoa. I went on to google maps and, for the first time, I found out where the hell American Samoa is located. I went to Wikipedia and found out (kind of) what American Samoa is. So now, when people ask me if I heard about the disaster there, I can say, “Yes, and the capital is Pago Pago.” It makes it sound like I care, but I’m not selling out real America. And with that, my adorable little American colonists, I wish you good luck.

One comment

  1. Kim
    September 30, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Max. Came across your post as I was reading some of the other blog entries about the tsunami in Samoa.

    I think what it comes down to is feeling empathy for any country, whether it is ours, “ours with an asterisk”, or another altogether.

    I am a full-fledged, full-blooded continental-dwelling American who happened to be in Phuket, Thailand when the Indian Ocean Tsunami happened in 2004. My friend and I survived, but did return to the states, back to our jobs and homes in NYC, with first-hand, all-too-vivid accounts of what had happened that day and in the days that followed.

    I think it’s simply about empathy for the human beings who lost their lives, homes, loved ones and livelihoods as opposed to whether or not it’s appropriate to measure the degree of “sadness for an American Territory” you may or may not be experiencing.

    Maybe some of this was tongue in cheek. One of the lessons “my tsunami” taught me was to not sweat the small things and above all, to have empathy for those who are not as lucky as I have been.
    Best regards,
    Kim Selby

    PS – Nice choice of theme.

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