Saturday, September 03, 2005

Race, Rescue and The Politics of Hurricanes

Race, Rescue and The Politics of Hurricanes

“City, state and national politicians are the real criminals here. Since at least the mid-1800s, its been widely known the danger faced by flooding to New Orleans. The flood of 1927, which, like this week's events, was more about politics and racism than any kind of natural disaster, illustrated exactly the danger faced. Yet government officials have consistently refused to spend the money to protect this poor, overwhelmingly black, city. While FEMA and others warned of the urgent impending danger to New Orleans and put forward proposals for funding to reinforce and protect the city, the Bush administration, in every year since 2001, has cut or refused to fund New Orleans flood control, and ignored scientists warnings of increased hurricanes as a result of global warming. And, as the dangers rose with the floodlines, the lack of coordinated response dramatized vividly the callous disregard of our elected leaders.”- Notes Form Inside New Orleans Jordan Flarherty

The recent category 5 hurricane name Katrina that devastated much of the Gulf Coast has exposed the hydra of racism, incompetence, callousness and class warfare that peculates daily in AmeriKKKa that usually is covered by the facade business as usual. This time it took an act of nature to reveal just how depraved this society really is. In 2001prior to 9-11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a report predicting a major hurricane hitting the city of New Orleans would be one of the three most probable disaster scenarios to hit this nation. The other two were a terrorist attack on New York City and an earthquake in San Francisco. Just like 9-11 where the Bu$h administration was warned by its own intelligence (CIA and FBI) and numerous foreign governments (Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Russia to name a few) they opted to ignore the FEMA disaster warning and in the interim cut funding for the US Army Corps of Engineers, regional flood control, pumping stations and levy upkeep. Unlike the truth about Bu$h’s foreknowledge of 9-11 which has been kept suppressed (except for the revelation about the CIA’s Daily Presidential brief warning of a pending bi-Laden attack) the information about the 2001 FEMA warning and the resignations of key emergency management personnel has been widely reported. The Bu$h administration is attempting vainly to spin the facts to take the heat off their bungling and callous disregard for the people of the region. Maybe I’m a bit slow, but isn’t it the responsibility of the President of the United States to protect and defend the citizens of this country? If so then by both accounts 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, the administration of George W. Bu$h is an abject failure and should be removed from office.
The gross ineptitude of the federal government’s response to the disaster begs several questions. Did Bu$h kick New Orleans to the curb because the city is seventy per cent African-American? Did the omnipresent politics of race play any role in Bu$h’s indifference to a major catastrophe occurring one state away from his Crawford Texas vacation? How has the war on Terror impacted the ability to provide evacuation and rescue operations, transport much needed fresh water, food and medical supplies to New Orleans and the other hard hit areas? If the National Guardsmen from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were not bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan waging war based upon lies and unsubstantiated allegations, wouldn’t more personnel be available to help in this situation? Has the mainstream media demonstrated a bias in favor of shielding Bu$h from deserved criticism and focused on the so called looters and “criminals” many who are merely scavenging for food and water to survive amidst the government’s Keystone Kops response to a major disaster FEMA warned them could very well happen? The media coverage focusing on the black people stranded has been one sided. Few if any reports explain why they remained in New Orleans while the more affluent and prosperous visitors, tourists and residents fled to safety as soon as they got wind of the storm’s path. Rarely if ever did reporters and cable networks share with their viewers these people were trapped in New Orleans because they were too poor or too infirm to get out. They had no money for airplane or bus fare, many didn’t owned automobiles and had no wherewithal to arrange transportation or anywhere to go, if they did. Many of the “looters” were actually securing food to take to the Super Dome. New Orleans resident Jordan Flarherty wrote this about the situation in his beloved city, “While the rich escaped New Orleans, those with nowhere to go and no way to get there were left behind. Adding salt to the wound, the local and national media have spent the last week demonizing those left behind. As someone that loves New Orleans and the people in it, this is the part of this tragedy that hurts me the most, and it hurts me deeply. No sane person should classify someone who takes food from indefinitely closed stores in a desperate, starving city as a ‘looter,’ but that's just what the media did over and over again. Sheriffs and politicians talked of having troops protect stores instead of performing rescue operations. Images of New Orleans' hurricane-ravaged population were transformed into black, out-of-control, criminals. As if taking a stereo from a store that will clearly be insured against loss is a greater crime than the governmental neglect and incompetence that did billions of dollars of damage and destroyed a city. This media focus is a tactic, just as the eighties focus on ‘welfare queens’ and ‘super-predators’ obscured the simultaneous and much larger crimes of the Savings and Loan scams and mass layoffs, the hyper-exploited people of New Orleans are being used as a scapegoat to cover up much larger crimes.” (www.Counterpunch.com 09-03-05).
New Orleans is a city with flare and unique flava but that doesn’t obscure the racial realities in AmeriKKKa. Now the Bu$h administration spin machine is hard at work, (harder doing this than helping the storm victims) to counter-spin the images and perceptions to avoid people seeing just how inept they really are. Like 9-11 where he sat reading stories about a pet goat after having been told his country was under attack, Bu$h elected to stay on his ranch, merely fly over New Orleans several days later in Air Force One and then go play golf! No amount of spin can alter this reality. Couple this latest display of heartless indifference with his debacle in Iraq, the lies that got us there, recent reports of increasing poverty in AmeriKKKa, (much like the poverty that forced those folks in New Orleans to seek shelter in the Super Dome) and we see the real deal about AmeriKKKa. To add an insult to injury, Bu$h has recruited his father and Bill Clinton to go around begging for charity for the victims of the Hurricane. Why should they have to do that, when the people of these states pay taxes to the government to protect and secure them?!! Stop sending our tax dollars to Iraq and Afghanistan and we’ll have funds to do clean-up and restoration. My question is, will George H.W. Bu$h persuade the Carlyle Group, GE, Lockheed Martin Halliburton or Bechtel to underwrite the relief and rescue costs from all the money they are making off the Iraq War and the War on Terrorism?

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