Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans has become Baghdad

From a columnist for the Toronto Star:Rosie DiManno.... well, I'll simply quote:

Nature wrought destruction but human beings have brought disgrace.

It is disgraceful that countless people are still stranded five days after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf coastline, flattening communities and knocking a major metropolis on its ear.

It is disgraceful that hundreds of state troopers and National Guard soldiers have been deployed to protect property rather than help people.

It is disgraceful that thousands of hurricane refugees — including the elderly, the infirm, the sick, mothers with babes in arms, children separated from parents — have been essentially abandoned in the Superdome and the convention centre, left to fend for themselves without food or water.

It is disgraceful that not a single relief agency has any presence on the ground as far as those of us who are here can see. No Red Cross, no federal emergency administrators, no medical teams, no shelter officials, no angels of mercy.

That is why, beneath the damp and dank, New Orleans is seething.

That — and not rampant greed — is why there has been so much looting in recent days, to the extent that police and troops have been taken away from critical rescue operations and assigned to watch the inmates, or outcasts, who are being treated like vagrants.

And that's all they do: Watch. Patrolling up and down the main arteries, in their armoured personnel carriers — as if this were Baghdad — automatic weapons hoisted on their shoulders, never stopping to assist fragile citizens in wheelchairs and walkers or mothers with ailing, wailing infants.

I've seen better disaster response efforts for earthquake victims in India and the ethnically cleansed exiles of Kosovo. Even the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay are surely being cared for better than this.

Could it be because the overwhelming majority of these dispossessed are poor and black that their very lives are apparently of less worth than business properties in the French Quarter, deluxe hotels on Canal St., chi-chi mansions in the Garden District, and tourist casinos on the riverfront?
Bolding mine. Along with stories about gunfights between snipers and national guardsmen, this shows just how far America has fallen, and just how badly the Bush administration has mishandled this.

We will hear comparisons to 9/11. They would be wrong. This is worse than 9/11, far worse, because the blame lies not in a shadowy enemy, nor in the hurricane (which was, as has been pointed out, almost a week ago)...but ultimately in the total and complete incompetence of the American president, the deeply politicized Homeland Security agency that he created, and his gutting of FEMA.

We all know that DiManno is right about why this has happened, as well. We all know the reason why Bush and co. don't give a shit, demonstrably don't give a shit. They just can't care about a bunch of poor black people. I'm starting to wonder whether they can. This administration has never given us any reason to believe that they ever could.

I had thought that the Bush administration had sunk as low as it could go. I was wrong. New Orleans is drowning, its poor people starving, and it's steadily sliding into chaos, just like Baghdad.

DiManno quotes a labourer saying the only thing that can be said about this situation:

"I tell you, America has let us down."

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