Thursday, September 01, 2005

Descent into Madness

First of all, I take it back. In my last post, I said:

...there's nothing happening in the news except for Hurricane Katrina (imagine the post... breaking news! there's a big fucked up rain-storm in the South! details at 11!) and there's very little that has happened in my real life that would make good blogging material.
When I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and today I'm going to be eating those words. Hurricane Katrina is fucked up. Watching the coverage, I'm first of all reminded of No Man's Land, that Batman story arc in which an earthquake devastated Gotham City almost spontaneously devolving a richly educated urban metropolis to an animalistic, feralistic Dark Ages. In New Orleans, there's no electricity, no food, no sewage, and no way out. There're dead bodies floating in the water and dysentery is spreading. This morning, there were at least two instances of anonymous snipers firing aimlessly at medical convoys. Anyone who claims that Americans are above the basic brutality of the human condition need only look how quickly desperate men lose all pretense at civility. And, in many cases, rightly so -- these are men who have been abandoned by their government. Bush's incredible empathy for the victims of 9/11 has evaporated in the face of this tragedy; his first response to the disaster was to fly over head and survey the damage, and he still has yet to reach out to the hurricane survivors. Metropolitan New Yorkers seem to ping on Bush's empathy radar, but poor Americans, most of them people of colour, seem to be under heavy cloak. Still, the White House didn't betray New Orleans five days ago when FEMA only informed the rich white residents of New Orleans about the seriousness of the hurricane and didn't provide busing or other means of transportation to higher ground. The Bush Administration sealed the fate of New Orleans in 2001 when he cut funding to FEMA to fund the War on Terror. Bush is responsible for re-directing National Guard troops, who normally would've provided the man-power to evacuate the residents of New Orleans, to Iraq where we're on a wild goose chase against "terrorists". Their fates were sealed by the rise of gas prices that crippled the evacuation efforts of the economically disadvantaged in this area. And, of course, there's always the racism and classism of dear Lady Katrina. Yellowmix first raised the issue three days ago when he pointed out the racism of the media coverage of the hurricane. Over and over again, the media has shown images of poor blacks taking food from abandoned grocery stores and labelled them looters, while whites have been "finding" the same stores of food. New Orleans has descended into madness. There was no pretense at maintaining order when FEMA first tried to evacuate the residents of the city, and there's no clear means of restoring order. Right now, CNN's Jack Cafferty is asking what role race and class played in this crisis -- wll, he answered his own question earlier -- almost every victim of the New Orleans flooding has been poor and black. Racism and classism does exist in America, and it's not just about not being able to get a cab. The guy who was left in a city submerged in 20 feet of water is evidence enough of America's real attitude towards poor blacks. And, on an unrelated note, as terrible as the hurricane is, it is not an atomic bomb. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour recently compared the hurricane to the bombing of Hiroshima. Sorry, but no. Why can't we understand the death of hundreds on its own without feeling the need to compare it in magnitude to other tragedies, even though the two incidents are virtually unrelated? In one case, Mother Nature wreaked some seriously rainy havok on the SouthEast and hundreds or perhaps thousands have died. In Hiroshima, one country knowingly dropped an atomic bomb onto another country and instantaneously incinerated at least 100,000 people not to mention lasting radiation poisoning in subsequent generations. I appreciate the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but dammit, why must politicians manipulate us with such obvious and untenable correlations?


Blogger solitaire said...

To be poor and Black in America...

As much as I want to eventually live in the States...there's a plus side to living in Canada.

It's heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking.

Imagine being surrounded by these images...these voices day in and day out.

Now you know my reality. Welcome to The Newsroom.

9/02/2005 12:08:00 AM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

As much as I just want to think of the people and leave race AND class the hell out of this f'ed up situation(and in general I still do or at least try to) it hard not to notice even a little, race, when a specific ethnic group is shown over and over again.

9/02/2005 02:23:00 AM  
Blogger michael said...

Thanks. I enjoy your blog too.

9/02/2005 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Samuel said...

I think you might be attributing the effects of a socio-economic condition - enforced poverty and structural racism - to a basic human trait. The people left behind with no help are all poor. If you were wealthy you could get out. Furthermore, they were cut off from the basics - food, clothing, and shelter - also because they are poor and black. If those were middle class whites, help would have been there on the double. So the fact, that they are pissed off seems more an effect of a society and an economy rather, than some "basic brutality of the human condition." It also reminds us of a history where blacks have been enslaved, impoverished, and trampled on. Mistrust of the government is a given based on history and current social conditions. And the government only seems to confirm this mistrust, with its lack of response.

9/06/2005 01:07:00 PM  

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