Sunday, September 04, 2005

Katrina, Race, Poverty and GW Bush Asleep at the Guitar

I have actually spoken to people in my lifetime who believe that there is no “real” class division in the United States, no “major” division between color lines. If the tragic event of the Gulf Coast teaches us nothing else, it at least demonstrates that those above assertions are as incorrect as, say, snow in July. As Elijah E. Cummings stated, as seen by the New York Times article Across U.S. Outrage at Response, “We cannot allow it to be said that the difference between those who lived and those who died” amounted to “nothing more than poverty, age, or skin color.” Furthermore, as discussing as sad as it may seen, in the United States, poverty coincides with the concept of “non-white.” (Note: as a friend of mine reminded me through an email she forwarded, early Irish immigrants were, at one time, considered “non-white” as well as Italians and other immigrants. As difficult as it is for us to accept today, such was the case historically in the United States.) Yet, that is exactly what is happening. Certainly not every citizen left there was poor and/or “not-white,” (I saw an interview with some vacationers from Scotland who arrived the day of the storm and has been stuck there ever since) but the majority, those who had no means to allow them to evacuate, were. Why? What is so damned wrong with us as a people that we continue to think and act, if not outwardly than inwardly (we’ve learned to hold our tongues but not change our thinking), as if we live in the 1700-1900’s? Again, I ask you dear reader, what is our responsibility to the so-called “least” in our society? I am reminded lately of Jonathan Swift's 1729 sarcastic essay the "Modest Proposal". To start the essay out, Swift, in an almost academic tone, writes: FOR PREVENTING THE CHILDREN OF POOR PEOPLE IN IRELAND FROM BEING A BURDEN TO THEIR PARENTS OR COUNTRY, AND FOR MAKING THEM BENEFICIAL TO THE PUBLIC Next, Swift goes on to make an outrageous suggestion:
I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection. I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
Nobody back then (including Mr. Swift) and No One today is suggesting we eat our poor. And yet, this sarcastic and poignant piece by Swift captures the overall attitude we often hold toward the poor in our society: “They are a Burdon, they take up good land, they are the uneducated masses, the barbarians,” and so on and so on. How easily we forget that they, we, are all humans . . . period. And that by a simple bad turn, a momentary disaster, we all could end up in poverty. It takes but a blink. How will we feel once we too are seen as “disposable”? Finally, I want to end this post with some question I have for our government, questions that many have right now and that no new "PR" can really change: There is nothing more disgusting, in my opinion, than watching G.W. Bush trying to appear as if he was riding into New Orleans on the mythical white horse, carrying in tow emergency supplies that should have been sent day’s ago. What is this crap? Was this planned because, in all honesty, I cannot see how it wasn’t planned? Were you only thinking about your falling approval rate? Tell me goddamn it! And I don’t want to hear that its “hard work” again. No shit it’s hard work asshole. But you wanted it--you asked for it--you stole it. Did you really think that you, unlike all the other presidents in history, would not age one damn bit doing the job you so wanted? And why the hell did the US Government not allow Red Cross to go into the areas effected initially? What is hell is this? Explain it to me, please, I am angry but I want to understand. On the Mike Malloy show of Air American I heard this little bit of information Friday night. And I keep hearing that this isn’t a good time for finger pointing—we must save that for later. That is fucking bullshit. There was never a better time for finger pointing than now. Finger pointing does not mean, or equate, doing nothing to help. We are a multi-tasking country, lets multi-task. The “powers-that-be” want you to ignore the real problem here and, instead, only deal with the fall out. They hope you will forget who is at fault. Don’t let them pull this rhetorical shit on you. Finger point and work. And finally let’s look at the real problem—the war that should be declared on poverty here in the United States. Oh, I wanted to than the commenter from my last post, dear Emily—was that you? Your points are well taken and appreciated. R-


  1. Williams' blog offers an unfiltered look at NBC anchor
    He was the first anchor to take over a network evening newscast in the 21st century, so it probably was inevitable that Brian Williams would begin channeling his inner gawker by getting his own daily blog.
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  2. Every man was poor from the roots.

    If you were born with a silver spoon, what of your forefathers?
    They were born with a ladle.

    Hurricane Katrina was no respecter of race, colour or creed.

    Let us remove the scales from our eyes.

  3. It all comes down to Survival Of The Fittest, also as much a part of nature as a hurricane is. Learned Helplessness breeds genuine helplessness or at least a deficiency in motivation to change one's situation. There are many, many people who came from poverty and made something of themselves and they didn't get that way by screaming at cameras to help them...or by refusing to get out of harm's way. They surely didn't get that way by openly criticizing or shooting at those who are working to give them a hand. I do not feel the least bit sorry for those left behind who refuse to do anything themselves to better their situations. The ones I feel for are the ones who have lost everything they have worked for - as well as the means to begin to rebuild anytime soon.

  4. If you get this R, yes the the comment on your previous article was from Emily. I'm glad that you read it and thought the points good ones to consider. Wish I could help you out, but I don't have a clue how to help your blog other than read it every day and start to pass it on to friends.

  5. So what you are saying is that Bush should have unilaterally declared a state of emergency, executed the evacuation plan, provisioned evacuation shelters, commandeered usable city busses, commanded the local police force, and emergency personnel all on his own?

    For one thing he would be breaking laws by declaring a state of emergency without being asked to by the Governor of the State

    As far as the other items, they were all the responsibility of Mayor Nagin. If those things were not done adequately then how is that President Bush's fault?

  6. What I am saying (in response to Ken) is that when you’re the president: “the buck stops here.” I do, and did, not expect Bush to handle everything “by” himself, but to sit playing the guitar and stay on vacation when the largest natural disaster is heading straight for the US is irresponsible, not to mention un-press worthy! The Federal Emergency Management Agency has the word “Federal” in it. As G.W. Bush is in charge of the “federal” government, you are damn right in assuming that I expect him to provide better immediate leadership than to strum his guitar as the Gulf Coast is drowning! I swear, he is reminding me of the incarnation of Nero! I can’t believe you do not expect more from your president yourself. We should expect more, it is our responsibility as citizens to demand more from our government in times of dire circumstances and when they are dropping the ball. People were/are dying after the storm from lack of food and water and shelter and the man should have done something—you know, just for shit’s sake, lead. He is the president for damn sake. Did he have to ask Iraq before he decided we should go in? No! Why should he wait around if, as you say the local leaders screwed up and it’s all their fault, and do nothing when he sees the need? I am not sorry for my post, except for the type-o’s. I expect more from my president and so should the rest of us. R


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