Mrs Bush, it’s not Burma

In the wake of the terrible cyclone that has devastated vast regions of the coast of Myanmar leaving as many as 15,000 dead to date with countless more missing and/or their lives turned upside down, the world has been rallying. This is a good thing, as we know from experience (unfortunately) it’s the first few days right after such a disaster in which relief is at it’s most critical.

Luckily the Red Cross has a well established presence there, and things are apparently moving forward for their relief program. The world, including the UN has pledged to help where possible, while all the time being very careful not to offend or support the ruling military junta. It is well known that the ruling military junta is one of the most repressive and oppressive in the world, where atrocities are conducted upon the Burmese people.

However, despite the debate around [1] the title of the country, I found it very unhelpful and quite patronising of the First Lady of the United States to continually refer to the country of Myanmar as Burma. It showed the US’s distrust of the place, and in a time when political point taking are not needed, it stunk of it.

But then that’s my distrust of the Bush legacy (both Sr and Junior), and their evil brand of politics they have successfully thrust upon the world.

Note 1). It’s an interesting debate around the use of the official name for the Burmese people’s country, this from Wikipedia;

The renaming proved to be politically controversial. Opposition groups continue to use the name “Burma,” since they do not recognize the legitimacy of the ruling military government nor its authority to rename the country in English. This name change was recognized by the United Nations, China, India, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Bangladesh, ASEAN, and Russia. However it was not recognized by many western governments such as the United States, Australia, Canada or the United Kingdom, which continue to use “Burma,” while the European Union uses “Burma/Myanmar” as an alternative.
Use of “Burma” and its adjective, “Burmese,” remains common in the United States and Britain. Some news organizations, such as the BBC and The Financial Times, still use these forms. MSNBC, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and others use “Myanmar” as the country name and “Burmese” as the adjective. Jim Lehrer, of PBS’s nightly news program The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, used to call the country Myanmar but now uses the phrase Myanmar-also referred to as Burma. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation also refers to both names in their news articles.


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