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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Monday, September 05, 2005


I am trying to get my head around the difference in responses. Why so many people viewed the aftermath of Katrina as mostly about "lawlessness"....even while it was going on. Even those charged with rescuing people. Even those in FEMA.

I can't fathom that. It has something to with do the media and the press, the pictures and news stories from the first few days, how the story was told....and how people saw those pictures, and heard that story..."looting, violence, anarchy in a time of crisis." It also has something to do with deeply ingrained ways of looking at our society.

I saw a different picture. Like many, I saw a humanitarian crisis. And like many, I knew that there was gun violence in New Orleans...that was common knowledge. The yearly death toll in that city was staggering. Many folks were familiar with that fact. It was not surprising that there were criminals with guns in New Orleans.

And that brings me full circle. There is still no death toll, no official estimate. No accounting. There are still people trapped in homes. There are still bodies to recover and identify and to give a dignified burial to. The silence about that speaks volumes. There may indeed have been criminal gun violence...there was, however, most certainly, the deaths of an untold number of innocents at the same time our government dithered. Friends, these folks didn't die on Monday, or Monday night, or Tuesday morning...they died after that...during and after the time news reports made this a story about looting. Well after a time when our government could have responded with the National Guard. The National Guard arrived on Friday afternoon.

Let history say that as thousands of citizens were trapped and in need of rescue...as tens of thousands of citizens who did what they were told were neglected and left hungry and thirsty and exposed...our nation, our press and our government got hung up on viewing the flooding of an American city as if it were a "riot" and not an urgent humanitarian crisis that struck hardest the poor, the elderly and those least able to help themselves.

That lens is something I can't get my head around. It's something to think about on all sides.


  • This is more in relation to your post on fake christianity over at dailykos. I've been thinking about what I see as another version of the distinction between a superficially religious but actually profoundly unethical response to Hurrican Katrina and the less-fake but also much less-vocal responses -- heroic, charitable, spiritual -- that we can find. And this is the opposition between ascribing this as simply a "natural disaster" (or that twin phrase "act of god) against a number of various "what-if" scenarios that are also emerging, and need to be nurtured and put forward. The "natural disaster" suggests there was nothing we could do -- that it had to happen like htis. The "what-ifs" begin to think about the long-term nature of our society, our real history: not just the construction of the Levees, but the whole history of this Southern city -- and even beyond this, the history of *all* our cities, and of *all* the South. And to imagine other histories, and other possibilities for the future. What government could mean. What kind of society we could have. And ideas of solidarity, responsibility, fairness and justice that are possible and still attainable today.

    By Blogger awol, at 2:40 PM  

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