Sunday, September 04, 2005

Sowing the wind

I spent the last couple of days visiting a good friend down at Purdue, and we had a great time. It was nice to be with someone I knew for a bit.

So that happened and stuff.
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I have spent a great deal of time in the last week glued to the television watching Hurricane Katrina coverage, and my emotions have ranged from detached to verge-of-tears to angry. The devastation is beyond comprehensible, and I believe that the news media has done a good job of getting the real story out there. And for all of the nonsense about a liberal media bias (because they do such a good job of calling the administration to the carpet), I was glad to see some actual criticism of the handling of the catastrophe. As one reporter on CNN said, "If we can get our van here, why can't food get through?" (And yes, I know that right now it is more important to help the people than to place blame, but I can multi-task quite well.)

But what worries me are the images of the people who were left behind, and the fact that they are all poor and black. I am worried because what should happen as a result of these images is that the nation will open a serious dialogue about race, poverty, and disenfranchisement in our country. But what will happen is that the images will reinforce stereotypes about the lazy, shiftless, looting black people. Our country always ignores causation in these situations. Off course, many conservatives say that there is no such thing as disenfranchisement -- people make their own beds. What closed-eyed poppycock. (Oh, I said it.)

Kanye West picked off a big national scab in his recent observations about the news media: "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food." If you don't think he's right, you've never watched television.

And Frank Rich, in the New York Times, compared the response to Katrina to Titanic: "The inequality of the suffering has not only exposed the sham of the relentless photo-ops with black schoolchildren whom the president trots out at campaign time to sell his 'compassionate conservatism'; it has also positioned Katrina before a rapt late-summer audience as a replay of the sinking of the Titanic. New Orleans's first-class passengers made it safely into lifeboats; for those in steerage, it was a horrifying spectacle of every man, woman and child for himself.

I like people who respond to the criticism by saying things like "Bush did not cause the hurricane." No shit. But that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to reap the whirlwind.

Another interesting read is from Reuters, and it discussed how the world is viewing our response. Check it out for some other opinions.

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Addendum: I see that my friend Jake has very similar things to say in his recent post. Great minds . . .

15 Comments:

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Johnny V posited...

Kanye West is a true poet. I don't like rap, but even I have to admit he is talented.

 
At 11:05 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

kanye west also said "george bush hates black people".

And as long as we're throwing blame around, why not aim a little at Louisianna's governor? Who is she if she isnt a, if not the, person responsible to make sure her state has a good evacuation plan? (I mean, it is lousianna, and there is a high risk of hurricanes there.) Ill tell you why not. Because placing blame has primarily been the occupation of democrats for the last five years, and the governor of Lousianna happens to be a democrat.

and im sure that that comes off very closed minded stereo typical republican, but i really do feel that way.

 
At 11:30 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

I completely agree that she fouled things up royally. I think that her response has been lousy too. In my mind, my criticism of the "administration" is not just Bush -- it is FEMA, the governors, the Pentagon, etc. But it was not Kathleen Babineaux Blanco who cut the funding for protection, despite numerous warnings. "Hurricane Determined to Strike Inside U.S."

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

And believe me, Tom -- I completely agree with what you say about Democrats blaming people. Democrats will be able to win something once in a while when they decide that they might be a party of leaders instead of a party of whiners. But just because they should stop blaming so much doesn't mean that their targets are blameless.

 
At 12:07 AM, Blogger Tom posited...

and i think it would be fair to say that the reason that mostly black people are being left behind is that black people outnumber whites 2 to 1 in New Orleans...


and oh my god i just misspelled louisiana...one...two...three times...how embarassing.

 
At 12:14 AM, Blogger Tom posited...

its true. i dont think anything happens without a reason. people dont get widespread blame pointed at them for no reason, and people (or groups of people) dont gain reputations for no reason.

 
At 12:51 AM, Blogger Johnny V posited...

Personally, I think it's natures fault for causing the hurricane. I'm not sure how many times I've said it, but I'll say it again. We have to kill nature before it kills us.

 
At 1:33 AM, Blogger chris posited...

New Orleans is infamous for its not legislated but cultural segregation. Not blacks wanting to stay away, but white people liking their "black free" suburbs and way of life.

 
At 1:57 AM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

We all know John has a vendetta against nature.

As far as the looting issue...well to me it depends. I've seen images on the TV of desperate people hauling food/water/medicine out of grocery stores and pharmacies.

I can completely understand that. Absolutely. 100%.

Then I see images of "desperate" people hauling big screen TVs out of the local Circut City.

THAT infuriates me.

White or Black, whichever. In both cases, I think it's the same. If you "steal" what you need to live, fine. If you steal something to make the den look a little nicer, well, you deserve what you get. That's absolutely pathetic.

 
At 2:34 AM, Blogger Tom posited...

there was a civil rights activist on a tv show that will remain unnamed...damn, well, i just gave it away, there was a civil rights activist on the Bill O'Reilly show the other day defending these people who were looting non-necessities.

"you dont know bill, these poor people might be selling these items to gain sustainance...now if you show me a record of these people doing it two, three times, then i say arrest them, sure..."

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger Johnny V posited...

The true looters are just dirtbags. Taking advantage of a situation which has put uncountable numbers of people at an unfortunate disadvantage.

 
At 4:44 PM, Blogger Jake posited...

Not to split hairs, but Kanye West didn't say, "George Bush hates black people." He said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

Oh, split away.

 
At 9:28 PM, Blogger hannah posited...

i don't think katrina is a political discussion:

it sucks.
people should donate money.
and in the future, people shouldn't build in unstable areas (ie: below sea level, on a slipping hill)

but mostly, it sucks. alot.

 
At 10:08 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

ok

ill have to choose my sources more wisely. just know that i didnt misquote, my stepdad did.

 

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