Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hurricane Katrina: Race Baiting and the Only Colors That Matter

I don't know where to begin. Of all the claims being made about the rescue efforts, racism must be the least logical or reasonable.

As I watched the news this evening, O'Reilly had a clip of Al Sharpton from the Tonight Show defending Kanye West's statements about President Bush hating black people and ordering law enforcement officers to "shoot black people". I'll come back to that in a moment. First, I want to address Al Sharpton's comment.

I believe that I am quoting him when he said that Kanye West was "defending his people."

The first thing I thought was, had a whiteman been on television and said that another whiteman's comment regarding "defending his people", he'd have been called a racist for separating "his" people from the rest of the population and clearly been referring to the white race.

So, "his" people are black. Not white, not Vietnamese, not Korean, not Hispanic, not American Citizens of New Orleans, Louisiana: black.

But, Al's not racist because black people can't be racist and, as long as your black you can say "my people", obviously refer to their color and race, and no one is supposed to call you on it.

I do. I do because, as I watched the news coverage, I never thought about anyone's color because I could clearly see that there were white, black, Asian and Hispanic at the Superdome and Convention Center. Some of the last people to leave the convention center were Asian members of a local Christian Church who insisted that others go first because they were in better shape than the others.

I found West's remarks particularly ignorant since it was the governor of Louisiana AND the BLACK mayor of New Orleans who gave orders for the POLICE to use force if necessary. I don't remember their exact words. The governor said that the national guard was coming and they were "locked and loaded". The mayor, he might have used stronger words about shooting looters.

In either case, the President never said those words at all, never talked about using force and certainly never could because he was not in charge of the police or the national guard. The state governor and the mayor are in charge of these entities. And, the active military has no role in the law enforcement, cannot due to the law of the land and so could not and would not give such an order.

It was just Kanye West and, subsequently Al Sharpton, talking about things they know nothing about.

Not egregious enough, we have many others making equally foolish statements about the delay to provide assistance to the folks stranded in New Orleans, specifically the Super Dome and Convention Center was race based since so many of those needing evaucation were black. Howard Dean apologists are now trying to claim his statement was a general commentary about who was stranded and not adding on to the race baiting.

That is some of the weakest defenses I've heard to date. Let's not even get into Dean's presidential run or the fact that he is the head of the DNC and knows the's been losing minority voters over issues of conservative living matching their politics; as if Dean wouldn't take this opportunity to rub it into the President and try to get back minority voters.

There were many things that delayed the evacuation:

1) Hurricane
2) Bad preparation and execution of the dissaster plan including evacuation at the local level
3) People refused to or were unable to evacuate on their own
4) Levee broke and put up to 20ft of water surging into streets, homes and businesses, killing hundreds if not thousands in minutes with several more hundreds dying as they tried to swim out, float out or simply escape to their roofs and attics.
5) The Hurricane and surging water from the levee break destroyed roads and bridges, deposited cars, buses, diesels, trees, homes, boats, electrical lines and various other debris on the same roads and bridges blocking direct rescue and relief vehicles.
6) The number of people needing assistance required extensive staging and coordination to provide food, water and method of evacuation.
7) Local, state and national resources were either destroyed or unavailable within the immediate vicinity
8) Bureaucracy kills. Literally in this case.

Now the story comes out that STATE officials prevented relief from going to the Convention Center because they thought it would convince people to evacuate voluntarily under their own steam.

The fact that 68% of New Orleans was black or other minority might be a good reason why a majority of the people that were unable to evacuate were black. Not because they were racially inferior or because of racial bias, but because, statistically, that IS the majority of New Orleans.

Juxtapose this with the limited news reported from the main point of contact for the hurricane in Mississippi where a majority of the affected people are white who haven't even seen the Red Cross, much less FEMA or other rescue and relief efforts.

Maybe they aren't getting attention because they are white?

Probably not. The fact is, the largest humanitarian crisis was in New Orleans. It had the most compressed and largest population of the area. It happens that 68% of the population was black.

Strangely, color apparently has no impact on charity or kindness. It can't change the path of a hurricane nor stop a levee from breaking. It didn't make any of the officials smarter, faster or more caring. It doesn't clear the roads, organize food, keep a helicopter, boat or plane from rescuing people. It didn't make a soldier pull back his hands or pass by a house.

The only colors that matter are red, white and blue. The colors of the flag that stands for ALL the people, created equal, without regard to their race, color or creed. Colors that neither a hurricane nor levee can tell the difference in nor make a rational decision about who it will effect more than others since it has no brain to reason with nor eyes to see.

Of course, that is probably true for most of the folks making these statements.


Gadfly said...

"Bureaucracy kills"

That is, without doubt, the most concise, perfect description of the problem in the aftermath. I'm not often impressed by other's flair with language, but I am. That is just crystaline. It cannot be refined any further. It looks like FEMA was adept at pushing paper and not at pushing relief supplies and personnel. Kind of NOT what they were supposed to be.



Scott from Oregon said...

I can't believe all those black people were allowed to live in such a great city. Hah! Serves them right for enjoying themselves!

Kat said...'re an ass. And deliberately missing the point of the post.

Or trying to bait other commenters. Which is it.

Scott from Oregon said...

Hah! Not an ass! And you missed my point!

New Orleans IS a great city. ( Or now I should say was....) The populace who lived there were lucky to live there, AND they also happen to be black in the majority....

All the hyperbole about America's underbelly is a crock of shit....

New Orleans and its black population were no where near as underprivaleged as it appears post-flood....

I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm making a mockery of the race card pulled from the sleeve of dementia....