Like everyone else, I\’e2\’80\’99ve been compulsively reading the news sites for news about Katrina, and even occasionally watching the net feed from WWL. We\’e2\’80\’99re really seeing something phenomenal here, and I mean that in the most literal sense.
Men are two days from savagery. I\’e2\’80\’99ve often said that, and in fact batted around gaming ideas focused on what would happen when comfortable Americans discover that they can\’e2\’80\’99t go to the Stop and Go for groceries. Well, those ideas suddenly seem incredibly perverse, now that we\’e2\’80\’99re seeing it play out in real time. Basically, people grab stuff in grocery bags and swim off. And speaking of which\’e2\’80\’a6
The media is racist. To quote Metafilter: Black people loot, white people borrow. Which isn\’e2\’80\’99t surprising, because\’e2\’80\’a6
The country is racist. To quote an unnamed rescue worker originally quoted on boingboing.net:
The poorest 20% (you can argue with the number \’e2\’80\rdblquote 10%? 18%? no one knows) of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn\’e2\’80\’99t leave. The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in new orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn\’e2\’80\’99t be able to get out. The resources \’e2\’80\rdblquote meaning, the political will \’e2\’80\rdblquote weren\’e2\’80\’99t there to get them out.
Which, if you follow through to its conclusion\’e2\’80\’a6
The government has failed. We\’e2\’80\’99re seeing the results of a government policy and culture that is so used to using shock and condescension to speak to its people that when an actual crisis hits, it\’e2\’80\’99s dumbfounded.
Look. We lost a city. Literally. There are over a million refugees in the southeast US right now. I\’e2\’80\’99m not talking about the poor souls in the Superdome who can\’e2\’80\’99t sleep in three days because of the water, heat and smell much less find a waterlogged corner to take a crap from the last-minute scrounged up MREs. No, I\’e2\’80\’99m talking about the lucky ones. The ones who owned cars and left.
If this happened in France? Or Germany? Or hell, even Poland? There\’e2\’80\’99d be a tent city outside of Baton Rouge. Someone would have already printed temporary identity cards, troops would be filtering refugees for weapons and the Red Cross would be registering survivors. They\’e2\’80\’99d have a fucking PLACE TO SLEEP.
Here in the land of the free? We tell them to find hotels. How immensely fucked up is THAT? We\’e2\’80\’99re watching an entire city bankrupt itself because we can\’e2\’80\’99t be bothered to do a simple refugee housing operation that WE\’e2\’80\’99VE DONE IN OTHER COUNTRIES. Maybe we\’e2\’80\’99ll depend on the Baptists or the Salvation Army to do it, and maybe they won\’e2\’80\’99t be as insistent on trying to use the refugees that come to them for a bowl of soup as an opportunity to convert them.
Even when we have vague stabs of conscience, we screw it up. The Governor of Texas this morning made a grand prounouncement, stating that the people of Lousiana were family, and that the unused Houston Astrodome would be opened for refugees – like the Superdome, but with working AC and toilets, so it\’e2\’80\’99s at least a minor upgrade. He said the right things. It\’e2\’80\’99s what we should be doing.
Except, of course, we\’e2\’80\’99re turning away refugees there too. See, they\’e2\’80\’99re only taking people from the Superdome there. Actual refugees should continue to bankrupt their personal savings, thanks.
In the meantime, the Astrodome is turning away refugees who aren\’e2\’80\’99t part of the Superdome evacuation. That was bad news for Christy and Honald Salomon and five carloads of family members, including a 93-year-old great-great-grandmother.
The Salomons and their extended family have been staying at a Comfort Inn for $55 a night. News of a longer stay had the family searching for more permanent housing arrangements.
But they were turned away from the Astrodome a little before noon, with only a one-page information sheet of services offered by the Red Cross.
\’e2\’80\’9cPeople with no money will be able to stay here, but what about people like myself who have a little money to hold us?’\’e2\’80\’99 said Brian Salomon. \’e2\’80\’9cWhere are we going to stay when we run out of money?\’e2\’80\’9d
Now look. As I keep feeling compelled to remind myself, I\’e2\’80\’99m a conservative at heart, and what\’e2\’80\’99s more, a libertarian one. Most things, the government should not be involved in. But you know, when a whole goddamned city gets wiped off the Earth in 2 days? Last time I checked, this is why we had a government. And they had damned well better drop everything else they\’e2\’80\’99re currently being bitchy about and start FEEDING PEOPLE, and while they\’e2\’80\’99re at it, SHOOTING LOOTERS IN THE HEAD.
I pay taxes for a reason, and it\’e2\’80\’99s not to keep President Bush on permanent campaign trips so he can sell the Iraq war.
As Americans, we shouldn\’e2\’80\’99t hope for our government to act. We should DEMAND it. And come elections, remember both the heroes (among them the New Orleans mayor, who deserves several medals) and those who were so thoroughgoingly incompetent they couldn\’e2\’80\’99t do their jobs.
Thank you, and let\’e2\’80\’99s get back to bitching about XP grinding or something.