Friday, September 16, 2005

Survivor Guatemala: Like in New Orleans, it's the survival of the whitest

Someone just sent me an e-mail about New Orleans. "You liberal weenies are trying to blame it all on President [sic] Bush. It was the local government that failed."

Yeah. Okay. You got a point there. New Orleans, like the rest of America, has had their local police and firefighter budgets drastically cut over the last five years. In New Orleans specifically, levee maintenance funds dried up to a trickle thanks to the Bush bureaucrats in Washington. And much of the local National Guard rescue equipment somehow ended up in Iraq. Of course the New Orleans disaster was a failure on the local level. Duh.

Trying to explain "How it is" to Bush apologists, I swear, takes up half my time.

"Remember back in the day when we didn't have to worry about jobs?" I ask them. "Remember back when Mohammed Atta hadn't been allowed to enter the country because he had been identified as a terrorist TWO YEARS before 9/11? Remember back before Cheney took office and we had a U.S. vice-president who was actually smart enough to avoid giving a stand-down order to our air force when planes were being hijacked?" Sigh.

Remember back when Americans were safe abroad, our teachers were almost even well-paid, our schools and highways weren't crumbling and gas prices were reasonable? Remember back before eight billion dollars mysteriously disappeared into Halliburton's vest pockets? Remember when we had adequate funding for our fire departments? Remember back in the days when a Red State/Blue State civil war was not imminent and global warming was not an intensely immediate concern?

"Remember when our pensions were safe," I asked them, "and our sons were too?" Remember back when 12% of America didn't live in poverty and being a "Christian" meant something important and wasn't just a political crutch?

But apologists for the failed Bush bureaucracy aren't interested in facts. They don't CARE that America now have the most corrupt government since Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall. They are only interested in calling me a liberal weenie.

So I thought I'd take my mind off of politics for a while and watch Survivor Guatemala instead. But even that turned out to be political.

There they all were, standing around these fabulous Mayan ruins, when host Jim Probst introduced the latest batch of Survivors. And, like the lucky ones who were able to escape New Orleans before the hurricane hit, this group did NOT represent the ethnic composition of America.

In Survivor Palou, we all rooted for Ibrahim. Big Brother 6 featured Beau, Ivette, Kasar and host Julie Chan -- someone for EVERYBODY to identify with. And The Cut had Felix, Chris, Rob and Princess. There was Jordis and Ty on Rock Star INXS and LaToya, Fantasia and Ruben on Americal idol. Is Survivor Guatemala -- like New Orleans -- now indicating the direction American reality is taking? Back to the bad old days of Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver -- and Amos and Andy? Or Boss Tweed, General Custer, Joseph McCarthy and Emmett Till?

When producing Survivor Guatemala, I wish that Mark Burnett have thrown in even one token African-American or Asian. I gotta admit that one Survivor did look vaguely Latina but basically on that show, like in New Orleans, only the White survived.

Then I thought of my own reality -- of my neighbors, my friends and my children. I live in a ethnically colorful world and I wouldn't have it any other way. This rainbow of ethnic variety surrounding me daily makes my life more interesting. It used to make New Orleans more interesting. It makes America more interesting. And it would have made Survivor Guatemala more interesting too.

I turned the television off.

PS: I found out the next day that, like in New Orleans after the levee broke, the old and injured were also the first to get voted off.