Consider the signature image of the flood: an aerial shot of 255 school buses neatly parked at one city lot, their fuel tanks leaking gasoline into the urban lake. An enterprising blogger, Bryan Preston, worked out that each bus had 66 seats, which meant that the vehicles at just that one lot could have ferried out 16,830 people. Instead of entrusting its most vulnerable citizens to the gang-infested faecal hell of the Superdome, New Orleans had more than enough municipal transport on hand to have got almost everyone out in a couple of runs last Sunday...Oh, right, the school buses.
Never mind that 16,830 people is just slightly less than the OVER A HUNDRED THOUSAND who were forced to remain, never mind that you'd need to find people to drive all those buses at a moment's notice, never mind the people that couldn't move due to health issues, never mind that the Mayor had no authority to dump thousands of people on, say, Houston, never mind that the plan already existed to move people into the Superdome and Convention Centre before the hurricane started and that the Mayor enacted that plan, never mind that the whole point of the Superdome/Convention Centre plan was that FEMA was going to come in and help those people, never mind that FEMA was blocking people from letting people in...
..it's all the Mayor's fault.
On 9/11, the federal government failed the people; last week, local and state government failed the people. On 9/11, they stuck to the 30-year-old plan; last week, they didn't bother implementing the state-of-the-art 21st-century plan. Why argue about which level of bureaucracy you prefer to be let down by?"Self-reliance"? What the hell were these people supposed to do, Mark? Aside from the underwater bus BS, what the hell does this have to do with anything? What exactly were they supposed to do? Eat each other? Swim through the horrible oil-and-sewage ridden water? Fight their way past the FEMA barricades that were PREVENTING THEM FROM LEAVING THE CITY?
My mistake was to think that the citizenry of the Big Easy would rise to the great rallying cry of Todd Beamer: "Are you ready, guys? Let's roll!" Instead, the spirit of the week was summed up by a gentleman called Mike Franklin, taking time out of his hectic schedule of looting to speak to the Associated Press: "People who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society."
Unlike 9/11, when the cult of victimhood was temporarily suspended in honour of the many real, actual victims under the rubble, in New Orleans everyone claimed the mantle of victim, from the incompetent mayor to the "oppressed" guys wading through the water with new DVD players under each arm.
Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it's bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness.
New Orleans is a party town in the middle of a welfare swamp and, like many parties, it doesn't look so good when someone puts the lights up. I'll always be grateful to a burg that gave us Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima, and I'll always love Satch's great record of Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans? But, after this last week, I'm not sure I would.
Die in an orderly fashion?
Most of the looting happened because people wanted to survive, you tendentious steaming faecal mound. The looters were the self-reliant ones- they realized that their government, their FEDERAL government, had failed them and took matters into their own hands. Whether or not somebody took a TV from Wal-Mart is absolutely immaterial; the focus on it says more about the Steyn and the other critics than the victims.
As for the "let's roll" crap... that's beneath contempt. It has absolutely nothing to do with this.
Chris Bertram over at Crooked Timber noted the "let them eat cake" element of Steyn's piece, but it's worse than that. It's a transparent attempt to foist the blame on anybody but Steyn's beloved Bush, to blame the victims, and (bizarrely and shockingly) try to leverage the tragedy of 9/11 to try to distract from the tragedy here.
I really, really hope we can get Steyn, Anderson Cooper, Geraldo and maybe Olbermann on the same panel. Let's see how "self-sufficient" the bastard is when he's being ripped into meaty chunks.