India/Katrina. Why, Bruce Sterling? Why?

Uma has a post reflecting on the sarcasm on Bruce Sterling's Wired blog (and echoed on Boing Boing) following India's donation of $5 million to the American Red Cross.

The sarcasm is relatively mild, as far as that goes. Many people in the U.S. are incredulous at just how badly the relief operations have been going, and it's commonplace for people to say things to the effect of "it's like living in a third world country." And for some reason they assume that no one in a 'third world country' is listening when they say it, and that it won't sound profoundly insulting when they/we do in fact hear it. I wish Americans -- especially American journalists -- would learn to be a little more sensitive in how they use language (I know, too much to ask in this era of O'Reilly). But it's increasingly an almost unconscious tick: no matter how many times we're reminded that the U.S. isn't immune to 'third world' problems like poverty (12.75% this year, folks) and corruption (hello, the ex-Governor of Connecticut is in jail?), American narcissism seems to be indefatigable.

I read both Bruce Sterling and Xeni Jardin as echoing that line. It's a species of that same narcissism, but it's basically a nasty little American commonplace.

Uma also links to Club 810, a blog that was new to me, where there is a thoughtful reply and an interesting comments thread.

To me, the sarcasm in Bruce Sterling's post is irksome, but it's nothing compared to the racist Rudyard Kipling poem ("Gunga Din") Sterling quotes at the end of his post. 500,000 people are homeless in the south, hundreds dead, and bloggers (who also happen to be respected and successful sci-fi writers) are quoting Kipling poems about subservient coolies? ("Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you,/ By the livin' Gawd that made you,/ You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!") Please. It's a little like whistling Dixie while driving buses full of evacuees to the Astrodome. Extremely, wretchedly bad taste.

Bruce Sterling, if you're reading this, drop the Gunga Din B.S. please.