Friday, September 02, 2005

National Travesty

CNN is just reporting that a military convoy, with troops and supplies, is arriving at the New Orleans Convention Center at this hour.

That's right. Five fucking days after the hurricane.

This is sick. The most prosperous nation in the world. And hundreds of people are dying -- not because of the hurricane itself, but because no one has shown up to save the thousands of people stuck in New Orleans.

Never has it been more clear where the poor -- or let's rephrase that, the poor African-Americans -- stand in this country. Every single one of us should be ashamed today. When the mess is cleared out, we're going to find possibly thousands of people who didn't need to die.

Thank you, Ken Layne at Sploid, for saying what everyone else is not saying (edited for space):

Lacking in automobiles and money or credit cards to secure lodging outside the flood zone, the “refugees” are now attacked by Cable News anchors as looters for simply trying not to die — without food and water, people tend to die — while the few whites still stuck in New Orleans are only “finding” food and water.

Meanwhile, a shocking vacuum of power left in the flooded city in the four days since the hurricane struck has predictably led to tales of gun shops looted, people arming themselves against the chaos, and terrible violence committed by the substantial criminal element that has preyed on New Orleans’ poor for decades.

The population of New Orleans was 67% black. The poverty rate in Orleans Parish was a staggering 34%, nearly triple the national rate of 12%.

Some 15,000 hurricane survivors — black people, with very few exceptions — have been camped out at the New Orleans Convention Center for days. They were told buses would arrive to take the survivors out of the lawless flood zone, that water would arrive, that supplies and medical help would be delivered. They are literally begging on the cable-news channels for a food drop, a few pallets of drinking water dumpted from the helicopters that buzz constantly but deliver nothing.

More surprising, the “objective” reporters and cameramen in New Orleans are now directly appealing to any possible authority to deliver food, drop water, send buses. They are watching thousands of people begin to die, while untold thousands of dead rot in the floodwaters beneath.

Instead, the dead are literally piling up along the walls. The dead include the elderly, people in wheelchairs, and a growing number of infant children. They are also, of course, black.

The blacks abandoned to the flooded horror of what was New Orleans are being raped, beaten, shot dead, and left to die of thirst and disease. It is nothing less than a holocaust, although it is not inaccurate to describe it as “genocide.”

If New Orleans is rebuilt, it is absolutely certain that the ghettos, housing projects and notorious all-black neighborhoods such as the Lower Ninth Ward (98.3% black) will be wiped clean. Instead, New Orleans will build (with federal money) its usual boondoggle of high-end retail, casinos, luxury condos and maybe one of those new ballparks so beloved by blight-fighting redevelopment councils.

The problem New Orleans city leaders have faced for decades is what to do with the poor blacks. That problem is solved, thanks to the miraculous break of a new “hurricane proof” levee and the even more miraculous decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to not bother trying to plug the breech, despite public assurances that they would.

Those who didn’t drown or die in the aftermath are at this moment being uprooted, sent to uncertain exile in cities up north and neighboring states, where they will most likely resume hard lives with dead-end jobs, terrible schools and (at best) a roof over their head that belongs to a landlord or the government.

The poor black survivors of Katrina are being bussed away with the wet stinking clothes on their backs … unless they’re at the Convention Center, where it appears they are being intentionally left to die in full view of the news cameras. They don’t own homes, so they have no insurance to rebuild their property. If they had jobs, those jobs are gone — the rebuilding jobs will go to out-of-state contractors who own the federal government.

MEANWHILE: LAObserved points out that now's a good time to put together that earthquake kit, if you haven't yet (and I'm ashamed to say we haven't at Franklin Avenue):

"You do have water, food, cash, a radio and flashlight batteries put away, right? Shoes under your bed so you'll be able to get out of bed when the windows explode? An extinguisher to put out the fire? A phone number to call out of state so loved ones elsewhere in L.A. will know you're okay?"

Also, some of you fellow Northwestern alums have asked me if I've heard from my freshman year roommate, Keith Brannon. I tried emailing Keith earlier this week -- but because I only have his work email, it was sent back (obviously his office server is offline). Keith is managing editor of Biz New Orleans magazine, which in a short note on its website announces that it has suspended business for the time being. Keith, if you happen to be reading this, we're hoping you, Eddie and your family are OK.

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