WBEZ's World View program rebroadcast an interview with Timothy Garton Ash on his book Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West (Random House, 2004). Check WBEZ's listing for Feb 21, 2005 and you can replay the interview yourself. (geez the net great!)
Ash is no friend of the administration but he recognized America's great strength: the way we welcome immigration. He said it's easier to be a Muslim immigrant today in the US than in Europe and cited the Dutch reaction to Theo Van Gogh's murder at the hand of Islamic extremists. Ash explained the 911 terrorists in the US were visitors, while Van Gogh's murderers and the Madrid Railway bombers had lived in Europe for years; marginalized and alienated in slums with no hope of joining Europe's mainstream.
Ash also said the the best thing Europe and the US could do to alleviate world poverty would be to drop our Agricultural subsidies and open our markets to the the impoverished world.
USA Today ran an editorial on Feb 23, 2005 supporting the Administration's cuts on Farm Subsidies as a freebie to the rich. Ash said a cow in Europe lives on subsidies larger than the per-capita annual income of most in the southern hemisphere.
Brings me back to the West Side and Walmart breaking ground for it's first store in the city --by the old Helen Curtis plant on North Ave-- because Walmart's a leader opening American markets to the impoverished trying to sell to us.
The American sentimentalist wrote a good review of the Austin issue and explained both sides.
Here is another site with pictures of Austin. Note the comment on Austin's heroic resistance to Walmart. I'm baffled as to what's heroic about fighting investment in a neighborhood void of a retail besides suffering high unemployment. Drive the West Side's streets and you'll see housing stock in reasonably good shape (look at th pics) but empty lot after empty lot where retail once stood.
Got a feeling Pastor Joseph Kyles of Heirs of the Promise Church at 4100 W. Grand Ave was right when he told the Sentimentalist, "We do not like the fact that this neighborhood has been used as a political balloon. Why should our community suffer for what other people want?"
Be wary of people telling you you're a hero for fighting their battles on your turf.