You might hear some rumblings on the airwaves and internets about why the public of the United States has not been rushed to support the victims of the devastating Pakistan floods which have flooded 1/5 of the country, affected an estimated 20 million people, killed nearly 2000 people (with that number rising daily due to continued flooding, disease and malnutrition) and left millions of people homeless.
There has, you will agree, been a noticeable difference in the scouring for public donations that occurred (and is still occurring) for Haiti and the almost dead silence that the mainstream media has placed on the Pakistan floods -- perhaps the world's most devastating natural disaster in the last 50 years.
Some commentators have ventured that the reason is because no one knows Pakistan -- Americans don't know about it and their celebrities don't have any kind of close connection to it.
Others wonder if it's simply fear -- of "terrorists" and Muslims.
Both explanations are a sad manipulation of the American public's sentiments toward helping their fellow human beings and an ignorance of the value of mainstream media in this country.
The American public -- that massive segment of it that was targeted through the mainstream media to donate to Haiti -- knows very little about most countries, including its own.
It knows very little that Haiti was -- back when it was part of Hispanola, the second-largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba -- the port of the first African slave landing in 1501. It was also the site of the first successful American slave revolt resulting in a country that was led and governed by the very slaves who in the United States continued to suffer the horrors of the institution of American slavery for generations later. It is also a valuable geo-strategic interest of the United States government which has something to do with all the rabble-rousing for funds to Haiti and the significant deployment of U.S. military personnel into Haiti once the earthquake hit.
This particularly large and regularly targeted segment of the American public which receives most of its news and information from mainstream media outlets knows equally little about Pakistan. Little about how the U.S. government has been bombing Pakistan and Pakistani civilians for years now. Little about the U.S. government's close connections with the corrupt and damaging governments that have pilfered the coffers of Pakistan's rich lands and poor people for generations.
In short, the American public that we are speaking of -- and it is most of the public, sadly -- does not know that Haiti is a nation that has long been been a thorn in the side of the American government while the 63 year old Pakistan is a nation which the U.S. already has great influence on and doesn't need "donations" for.
In fact, the only reason any media coverage to solicit donations for Pakistan is now starting to take place, is to counteract the most effective on the ground relief in Pakistan now: the Islamic charities. As Senator Kerry so sincerely put it today, someone's got to stop the fundamentalist Muslims from the rapidly gaining support they are nurturing amongst the 20 million people who are directly affected by this flood and the hundreds of millions of others who observe that the local Islamic charities, not the Pakistani government, are the ones predominantly helping these disaster victims.
So if you are interested in these sorts of facts, take a moment now and again, to compare the media coverage -- including media-led donation drives -- that will persist for Haiti relief and the meager efforts to help Pakistan which is -- since we must compare such sordid details -- rather more devastated in terms of human loss (3 million affected in Haiti, 20 million affected in Pakistan), property damage and long-term damage than Haiti is.
Take the time to observe how often the mainstream media goes out of its way to squeeze in yet another little "news" item that makes Pakistanis look bad and then ask yourself why that same media has failed so obviously to solicit the funds and sympathy of the American people who were extremely willing, when asked, to donate to another country they've been little informed about.
For more info on how to donate to the Pakistani Relief, please go to the Imran Khan Flood Relief Fund at http://www.imrankhanfoundation.org/donate