Thursday, November 22, 2007

Naomi Klein on Robert Dziekanski

A shock of a different kind:

"Dziekanski was a young adult in 1989, when Poland began a grand experiment called "shock therapy" for the nation. The promise was that if the communist country accepted a series of brutal economic measures, the reward would be a "normal European country" like France or Germany. The pain would be short, the reward great.

So Poland's government eliminated price controls overnight, slashed subsidies, privatized industries. But for young workers such as Dziekanski, "normal" never arrived. Today, roughly 40% of young Polish workers are unemployed. Dziekanski was among them. He had worked as a typesetter and a miner, but for the last few years, he had been unemployed and had had run-ins with the law.

Like so many Poles of his generation, Dziekanski went looking for work in one of those "normal" countries that Poland was supposed to become but never did. Two million Poles have joined this mass exodus during the last three years alone. Dziekanski's cohorts have gone to work as bartenders in London, doormen in Dublin, plumbers in France. Last month, he chose to follow his mother to British Columbia, Canada, which is in a pre-Olympics construction boom."

Interesting. I wonder if Dziekanski's experience living in the Eastern Bloc might have had anything to do with how the tragedy ultimately played out, or at least how it was initiated. RD wasn't violent but he was stressed out before the police arrived, and with good reason: ten hours stuck in an arrivals lounge?? Who wouldn't be bent? That he stayed there so long is amazing: one wonders if past experience had taught Dziekanski to stay put and not wander around asking questions.

This is an issue apart from the inexcusable behaviour of the RCMP. But it highlights YVR's weakness as an international airport prepared to assist travellers from around the world. How the hell did airport staff manage not to notice an obviously stressed-out traveller in the arrivals area for so long?