Katrina: Racial Misunderstanding vs. Real Help

Within about two weeks after Katrina I touched on the bandwagon of blame surrounding the Katrina disaster, and won’t regurgitate it again here. It suffices to type that there was plenty to go around but much of it misguided.

One particular piece of shrill irrationality simply won’t go away, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary: that race was a factor in the casualties because “they” (FEMA, DHS, George W. Bush…you name the usual easy targets of the race-baiting demagogues) failed to come get everyone out of there who wouldn’t or couldn’t leave in time.

Never mind about the personal responsibility of all those able bodied men and women of all races who could leave, to get out and take their sick and elderly neighbors with them, instead of looting TVs and furniture that would all end up underwater anyway.

Never mind that, in any emergency, first response is supposed to be local, and hundreds of fully functional New Orleans school buses were left to leak their fuel and motor oil into the fetid flood-soup, because they weren’t used in advance by the city of New Orleans to evacuate folks who couldn’t leave.

Never mind that the city and state, as well as the Feds, collectively betrayed all the citizens of New Orleans by failing to more robustly plan for this eventual certainty, as predicted by storm surge experts for decades and as publicized in national magazines and news outlets for years.

Never mind the common sense notion that when you deeply flood a city of half a million within hours, casualties are inevitable even with the best laid plans (which of course were far from utilized here).

Never mind that lots of good folks – heroes! – of all races and backgrounds either came to the direct aid of those in trouble, or donated time, money, supplies and/or rooms in their houses to the displaced.

No, that wasn’t enough, it seems, for those whose financial well-being and livelihoods depend on keeping racial discord alive in this country by perpetuating an “us against them” mentality, while pretending to decry racism. I refer in particular to some loud and influential people – the traditional whiners like Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson, or the newer generation of indoctrinates to the pop-culture of race-baiting paranoia, like Kanye West – all mindlessly spouting forth the company line of Victims-R-Us instead of thinking for themselves. Millions of otherwise well educated and thoughtful folks actually buy into this ridiculous, and now proven wrong, notion that Katrina disproportionately took the lives of black people.

Never mind, finally, that a Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals analysis shows that, of 658 corpses that have been identified, 47% (fewer than half) were black, and that whites (28% of pre-storm New Orleans) comprised 37% of the city’s hurricane deaths. [I’ll provide a link to the full story, but don’t know how long it will remain online.]

What’s horrible is that any fatalities happened, whatever their complexion. Amidst that sad truth, it is good news that the alleged racial sway to the carnage really wasn’t true. Katrina was, instead and indeed, an equal opportunity killer.

Yet why do I get the feeling that the aforementioned people, who should be glad about this news, are instead privately disappointed to learn it? Because once again, they depend on keeping racial division and distrust alive for their own financial gain, publicity and attention. That’s sad. And as a result the myth probably will perpetuate itself through generations despite the numbers that show otherwise.

What’s even more sad is that anyone would waste time, money and effort to use such a disaster to propagate racial tension and hatred, instead of realizing and espousing publicly that we’re all in this together – regardless of skin color or anything else – and that the top priority was (and is) helping those in dire straits because of Katrina.

Bad things happened to lots of people – whatever their skin color – and almost all of it was entirely preventable. But now the attention turns to the present and future, and this starts with what can be done to aid the recovery for everyone who was afflicted by Katrina’s ravages.

Hurricane relief aid still is necessary and will be for a long time to come. Now is a good time because the year’s almost over, lots of these displaced and homeless folks need a Christmas blessing, and your donations still count as 2005 tax deductions. These links will take you directly to some great ways to give. It’s far from all-encompassing, but these are my favorites…

SALVATION ARMY – some of God’s finest ground troops in the war against suffering.

BUSH-CLINTON KATRINA FUND – proving that conservatives and liberals can come together to do what’s right.

STORMS OF 2005 DVD – storm chasers helping storm victims!



Comments

One Response to “Katrina: Racial Misunderstanding vs. Real Help”

  1. tornado on January 29th, 2006 11:16 pm

    Just when you didn’t think the racial stupidity couldn’t get any more so, here comes Ray Nagin vowing to make New Orleans a “Chocolate City.” This was prompted, in part, by the large Hispanic labor force now working in the cleansing and rebuilding effort, the likelihood that many of them will stay, and the near certainty that many poor and/or black folks who left are not coming back. [Quite smart of them, I say. New Orleans is going to experience the very horror of Katrina again someday, by simple virtue of its existence in that location. It’s a nightmare not worth subjecting oneself to all over again for many who left.]

    Nagin has been duly and rightfully ridiculed for his asinine statement by outraged blacks and whites alike, from coast to coast and everywhere in between. That was a classic case of “open mouth, insert foot.” What in the hell was he thinking? No matter his color or background, that’s not the hallmark of wise leadership, and Nagin is not someone I would want for my elected city leader. Whoever may comprise the voting citizenry of New Orleans by the time of the next mayoral election, I hope they all show him the door, advise him not to let it hit him in the butt on the way out, and meanwhile, elect someone who is more welcoming and less exclusionary.

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