no blog entries for a week. i'm still fairly busy, and blogging about the katrina aftermath, the disaster recovery that was itself a disaster, has seemed like such a big job that i never knew where to begin. i don't have the time to even begin to collect all the pertinent facts, statistics, and screwups. the full-time war blogs have been doing that better than i ever could. there's so much to keep up with: massive death and devastation, exacerbated by immeasurable incompetence on the part of the government that should've been there to rescue people.
yes, the rescue crews are finally there, finally evacuating people. but it took the govt days to get there. it took them days, when journalists, canadians, and even harry connick jr were able to get down to the gulf in the blink of an eye. FEMA head michael brown (a bush appointee whose qualifications include being fired from his previous job overseeing horse shows) didn't even try to send help until after the storm had hit, despite the fact that the governor of louisiana, for example, had asked bush to declare a state of emergency on aug 26, long before the storm got to the gulf.
unsurprisingly, considering that tens of thousands of people had been left there for days in a place with no food, no clean water, no electricity, no infrastructure at all, everything went to shit. people started looting (or finding). soon they weren't just taking food or water or medicine, which any reasonable person would not object to, and they started taking tvs and other consumer crap. then people started shooting.
that's when it really started getting ugly. not in the gulf region... no, that area was already fucked. but when the media started reporting (or perhaps over-reporting, as it is apt to do) on the violence, that's when the national discourse started to turn ugly.
i wasn't surprised when some of the usual crew of serial apologists came out of the woodwork to explain how none of it was bush's fault. that was to be expected, although many of those usual apologists did wake up and declare their dissatisfaction that while the govt should have been helping people, while people were dying, the president was out playing guitar with some country musician, condi was buying shoes and yukking it up at spamalot, and vp cheney (as far as i know) is still on vacation somewhere.
so i'm not surprised to see that tom delay, for example, is leading the chorus in a rendition of blame the locals, even announcing that the house was cancelling its hearings into who fucked up how badly in the wake of katrina. or dennis hastert's suggestion that maybe new orleans isn't worth rebuilding. or anything that politicapologists say.
but i've been saddened and sickened by the "blame the victims" mentality i've seen on the internet and on message board discussions. a depressing number of people seem incapable of empathizing with the victims, of understanding that most of the people who are still there were simply incapable of getting out (as opposed to the very small percentage of people who stuck around out of foolishness), of comprehending why people go looting.
the entire world has seemingly crashed down around the katrina victims. the system had already failed many of them years ago, leaving them in abject poverty, struggling to keep food on the table each day. then suddenly their homes are destroyed, their jobs are gone, they have no food, no water, no possessions. nothing. and they are told repeatedly that help is on the way, but that help never seems to materialize. in fact, the cops who were supposed to help them often prevented them from getting supplies or getting to safety. they were desperate people pushed over the edge, people with literally nothing to lose. in that situation, with the world seemingly over, with the threat of starving to death before FEMA ever arrives, i would probably go a little apeshit too. i might even grab a gun and start stealing tvs or shooting at "the man" who had kept me down for so long. take that, the man! you'll finally get your comeuppance!
but i've seen a number of disgusting, hateful comments made about the looters and the victims. plenty of comments about how stupid people are to live in new orleans or hurricane country (despite that the national infrastrucure depends heavily on the gulf for shipping, oil refining, etc). plenty of calls to shoot the looters on sight. i even saw a comment from one particularly egregious troll and bush apologist about "degenerates who need killin' bad". yep, it's too bad the hurricane didn't just kill 'em all!
and most of the people making those kinds of comments probably wouldn't survive more than a day if they were actually trapped in the destruction left by katrina, with no food or supplies and no high-speed internet connection so they can mouth off on the internet with impunity.
times are tough. we're all upset when we hear the news or see footage of the destruction. and some of these people who are gladly calling for the murder of the very victims we're supposed to be helping are probably not thinking straight. they too probably feel helpless when confronted with so much death and violence, and vent their frustration the only way they know how: by demonizing the poor and underpriveleged. in the same way that news coverage of the war in iraq brings out people who demand that we "nuke the middle east".
the anguish is understandable. but the comments are destructive, arguably as destructive as the actual looting and shooting.¶