Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Red Cross: Typhoon Tragic, But Not White-People-Dead Tragic

with 4 comments

HaiyanGeneva, Switzerland (AP) Typhoon Haiyan has killed at least 10,000 people in the Philippines and rendered many times that number homeless, but the International Red Cross has stopped short of calling the destruction a “disaster,” preferring to reserve such strong language for when white people are the victims. The vast majority of those killed, injured, or suffering property loss are Asian, some of them Muslim.

Some European and American news outlets have devoted attention to the storm and its aftermath, but mainly to focus on the possibility of Westerners – i.e. white people – who fell victim to one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded. Once those outlets and international organizations determined that vanishingly few white people were killed or remain missing, the story of Typhoon Haiyan has been relegated to footnote status.

“Our resources have been stretched thin already this year by, uh, the Syrian refugee crisis, yeah, and, uh, other stuff,” explained IRC spokeswoman Blanche Weiss. “I mean, millions of Syrian refugees, oodles of them. We couldn’t possibly also provide aid to the Philippines. Heck, our work with the Syrians is only sort of OK because they could conceivably be described as Caucasian. The victims in the Philippines are browner or yellower than that, and that would be way beyond our mandate.”

Indeed, much of the Committee’s work in Turkey, Syria, and Jordan, caring for the displaced Syrians is done through the International Red Crescent, which could technically be considered a separate organization. Another separate group called the International Committee of the Red Cross is specifically devoted to those suffering war-related hardships, and they have also been providing assistance to the Syrian refugees; their mandate includes darker-skinned people, but excludes Jews of any complexion.

The IRC’s policy was the focus of intense interest in 2005 when a powerful tsunami struck large swaths of Southeast Asia, killing hundreds of thousands and leaving millions homeless. Then, the Red Cross provided some aid to the affected areas, but allocated the bulk of its resources to the more pressing concerns of Hurricane Katrina, which mainly hit the US Gulf States of Louisiana and Mississippi. Although large concentrations of non-whites also populate those areas, they are interspersed with significant white communities, and, through its connections with the Bush administration at the time, the organization was able to direct its most effective aid toward whites while leaving nonwhites to the mercy of a poorly managed disaster response effort.

The government of the Philippines has been unable to muster a sufficient response to the devastation that Haiyan wrought, as 2013 already saw disastrous a earthquake that depleted Manila’s relief coffers. “But that’s not such a big deal,” said an Aquino government representative. “There are like, what, almost three billion Asians? We can stand to lose a few hundred thousand here and there.”


Written by Thag

November 10, 2013 at 8:53 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Sad that there is not enough media coverage about the story
    I was shocked this morning when i heard that the death toll was more than 10,000 people … that is a HUGE disaster and no one care …

    Mohammed Abualgassim

    November 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    • Shocked that you take this article seriously. It’s tagged under Satire…


      November 10, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      • well i am talking about the media coverage of the natural crisis not your comments on the Red Cross … 🙂

        Mohammed Abualgassim

        November 10, 2013 at 9:36 pm

        • I guess it depends on what sources you consult. NY Times web site has it front and center.


          November 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm

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