Papers miss the point on oil catastrophe

Matt’s Crow Country

IN this country we specialise in making a fuss about nothing.

Take the vuvuzela horns which are providing an – admittedly monotonous – background noise at the World Cup matches in South Africa, and provoking much whinging from television viewers back home.

While I can see why people don’t appreciate what sounds like a swarm of bees buzzing in the background as they cheer their nation to victory, surely the easy option is to turn the volume down if you don’t like it and let the South Africans have their fun?

There’s also been much harumphing in recent days about US president Barack Obama’s attitude towards the oil spill perpetrated by BP in the gulf of Mexico.

President Obama has drawn the ire of the nation by daring to refer to BP as British Petroleum, a choice of words which has seen him accused of spreading “anti-British rhetoric.”

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “I do think there’s something slightly worrying about the anti-British rhetoric that seems to be permeating from America. I would like to see a bit of cool heads rather than endlessly buck-passing and name-calling.”

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Obama’s spokesman has denied the president has been Brit-bashing, and even if he has, does it really matter? Any politician is surely going to want to minimise the blame attached to their own administration by putting it on someone else – I’d expect our own Prime Minister David Cameron to do the same if the roles were reversed.

And the focus on Mr Obama’s choice of words is detracting from the real issue at hand – the catastrophic damage done to the eco-system in the area of the spill.

As US Ambassador Louis Susman said this week: “It’s an issue that we have a catastrophic event that has not only caused loss of life, loss of all the fisheries in the sea, [and been] economically devastating.

“So, while it might seem a bit undiplomatic in terms of the words, trust me, it had nothing to do with the fact it was British or American. It was the fact it’s a problem.”

It remains to be seen whether the focus of the national media – and the public at large – will move to the real problem being dealt with here, but we can only hope they don’t continue to miss the point in such spectacular fashion.