Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Katrina put me over the edge.... (Warning: Strong Opinions)


I still remember the reporter on the asphalt of the empty freeway:

"Why isn't someone helping these people?"

I still remember seeing the people on top of their houses, some with "Help! Diabetic" painted on the roofs.

I still remember the devastation of the Ninth Ward.

I still remember the football stadium where "refugees" were crammed together like vienna sausages in a can. (This was the early coverage, before "they" decided that using the term refugees was un-PC because, after all, they were Americans, too.)

It was like watching a war zone. There were trucks without tires, only rims, packed with people trying to escape. There were pregnant women with children walking aimlessly on the freeway overpasses. There were dead bodies abandoned along the side of the road.

I still remember that the Blackwater Security Service was dispatched, hired by the wealthy, to protect their property. It didn't take long for them to arrive. In fact, they got there before FEMA.

One wealthy New Orleans businessman personally hired the Israeli firm Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) to protect the elite gated community of Audubon Place.

... because the wealthy and their property are always more important than the poor.

The National Guard and other services patrolled the streets day and night with a shoot-to-kill mentality because some of the poor had to loot for food. One doctor was arrested for looting a pharmacy to get needed medication to start a clinic.

The wealthy were protected and the poor were left to die. It was genocide based on socioeconomics. At the time, so many were talking about race, as though race was the issue.

Poverty was the issue.

And it was then that I truly got it that it could happen here.

That it had already happened here.

~*

32 comments:

Cecilieaux said...

Hey, let's have more strong opinions!

Katrina and the aftermath -- see http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/GulfCoastExecutiveSummary.pdf -- represent the key socioeconomic story of the last 6 years. Talk about the Other America!

My Reflecting Pool said...

Not seeing any strong opinions here. Maybe because facts and reality aren't opinion. Thanks for saying it.

Anonymous said...

This is the continuation of the Circle of Life. One helps us, we help another, they help , those help, the Circle continues...This to me is what we are to be doing, extending our "Hands" toward others so the Circle grows to encompass rather hold others out.

Thank you speaking the truth no one wants to say, for not giving up, thank you for being there/here......

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Excellent post, Chani! And all too painfully true.

The devastation of Katrina put a mirror up to all of us because possessions insulate their owners from the have-nots. As long as the poor are feared and shunned, there will be no meaningful change.

Socioeconomic genocide has, sadly, become the American Way.

It remains to be seen whether our next government will understand that a society is only as strong as its weakest citizen.

KC said...

It's a sad/scary example of human behavior pushed to its limits. How can this be fixed? I don't know if it can.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

Good words Chani. Isn't it ironic that the President made a speech in which he stated he was helping tthe recovery? The fact that he had to tell them means he's not.

painted maypole said...

thanks for remembering, and still speaking out

It's a long day here in NOLA - I'll be going to a remembrance concert tonight.

When I heard that our president was in town, I wondered if anyone would even bother to listen to the lying sack of...

ok, time to get off now

Anonymous said...

You are anti-American scum. Can you ever say anything good about this country?

No of course not. You prefer military juntas. I forgot.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Had your anti-venom shot yet?

Oh, wait...

QT said...

Our government is too busy lining Bush/Cheney's pockets via the Iraq war to spend any money on rebuilding cities that do not have oil rigs.

Katrina is so shameful, and not just what you mention - the greed and corruption, the mismanaged funds, money wasted and lost forever.

FWIW, I fall into the camp that we should not rebuild in certain areas. Why throw good money after bad? Take the money that would be spent re-building in a low lying area and do something more useful with it. I am sorry - I know there are people who have lived there for many generations, but Katrina was just the beginning of what is to come for those gulf states, especially as water levels rise.

I don't have a solution. I agree with you about the genocide. What was happening, what I watched, was like a nightmare come true.

jen said...

i had the opportunity to be a part of relocation efforts to folks who were bussed to CA in the aftermath. Horrendously shell shocked, brutalized people who had lost everything.

And recovery from that takes a long, long time.

When i think of people still sitting in those FEMA trailers i want to lose my mind.

blooming desertpea said...

The aftermath of Katrina is the certificate of the incapability of the whole bush administration - this and the war in iraq finally showed the american population who George really is and what he is worth - too sad that there had to be so many civilians made victims of this. It makes me sooooo angry!

Janet said...

When all is lost, we revert to the bottom tier of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: hunger and thirst.

It's a shame with all of the riches in the Western world, that we can't easily meet these needs for everyone, when disaster strikes.

flutter said...

You know, if the money approriated for Levvy repairs had actually been USED by the governor of Lousiana for levvy repairs, a lot of this could have been avoided.

It is another reason, among many that we shouldn't rely on the government to take care of us. They can't, they won't.

You'll have to forgive me, Chani, this particular subject pisses me off like no other. My family lives in and around and are from New Orleans. My mother doesn't make a lot of money. Do you think she could get katrina relief to replace essential things she lost in the storm?

No. Of course not, because she wasn't on assistance to begin with. Because she worked and had steady employment, she was denied.

Of course private contractors get there before the government, because private contractors don't have a worthless committee that has to meet and cavort with a million lobbyists to clear the way to get something done.

Government fails, and it doesn't matter who is in office because they are all the same sheep in different suits.

There were 400 school busses sitting in a lot, allowed to collect water and become useless because the mayor said wanted his people to have greyhounds to ride in. I am pretty sure they would have preferred just to get the hell out in one piece. When are we going to wake the hell up and realize, this isn't about parties, this isn't about the haves and the have nots, this is about people. People hurting, people suffering.

Pam said...

Well said, Chani, this kind of thing happens here more often than they would ever want to admit. Money talks, the poor walk. And starve and die.

Christine said...

yeah for strong opinions! i watched nova last night and it made my heart ache and i cried for all of that city and the whole region, really. bush sucks and so much of the pain is his fault.

Tabba said...

Chani,

Thank you for saying so perfectly what I have been thinking for two years and could not properly put into words.

And long live strong opinions.

Amy York said...

I still remember too...
And like your other readers said ~ these are fact, not opinions. It is so pathetic to think that something like that can and did(!) happen here. I was ashamed to be an American that day... and sometimes I still am.

Amy York said...

I still remember too...
And like your other readers said ~ these are fact, not opinions. It is so pathetic to think that something like that can and did(!) happen here. I was ashamed to be an American that day... and sometimes I still am.

meno said...

I had to turn off my radio today because listening to Bush talk about all the "progress" made me ill.

Yes, the rich can afford to pay to keep what they have, and the poor just get poorer.

Julie Pippert said...

Among many other things, I will never, ever forget processing in refugees as they arrived here by the bus load. I will never forget getting one family to the free clinic and pharmacy to get life-saving medication. I'll never forget the police escort racing medical supplies (my kids were thrilled). I'll never forget keeping two notepads, one for people seeking housing and one for people offering housing. I'll never forget not even being able to unload the diapers and formula from the trunk of my car because people were so desperate, I handed it right over.

I'll never forget red-faced sweating babies. Sobbing people. people on the edge of hysteria but Holding It In For the Sake of the Kids.

I'll NEVER F*CK*NG EVER FORGET managing relief efforts for TWO DAYS before the relief groups from the government got there, and then carrying on while they tried for another day to find their heads (up their...well, no sun there, suffice it to say). People would have...God knows what if not for private help. Thank goodness for the Red Cross.

We spent weeks soliciting things from around the country, logging them in, loading them up, and bussing them over to NOLA.

And that's not the half of it.

Not to mention...the day they shut the shelter. God. Worst day EVER, and that's saying a lot then.

Second biggest trauma? Coordinating evacuating these people AGAIN for the NEXT hurricane.

So...obviously not a big difference of opinion from me. ;)

It chaps me royal black all the political posturing.

Snoskred said...

Looking at this from another country.. so forgive my views as those of an outsider. ;)

1. I certainly hope all the people who are angry re bush etc are going to turn out and vote on voting day for whoever they feel is the best candidate.

2. Eight Republican years have shown the true mentality of many of those people is - "I'm alright jack, f you"

3. There is such a major issue with the US being the world's policeman. So many people want you to step in when there are situations like Darfur. I think you can't be worrying about what goes on halfway round the world - you have to take care of home first. I think you have to do what is best for your people first.

4. Iraq is a problem that isn't being solved by having troops there. It is time to get out and leave the people of that country to do their thing. If it goes bad, it goes bad - what will be will be.

5. Health care in your country is an absolute shambles. People have to be strong and realise they are paying a lot right now in premiums when they could pay a little in tax to make sure everyone is taken care of. And HMO's have to go. The first question when you get to an ER should be - what is wrong with you - not "Are you insured".

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

slouching mom said...

Amen. AMEN.

It was appalling.

That the area is still in such disarray, that there are still so many living in temporary and formaldehyde-ridden housing, is appalling.

Jen M. said...

Oh my GOSh I have a post ready for Thursday on Katrina. Can I link to you as a part of my Philanthropy Thursday? Would you check out my post for Thursday and tell me what you think? I am SO glad you are writing about this.

mitzh said...

Very well said.

Some people may try to turn their heads away, and you are one of the few who chose not to.

enigma4ever said...

beautifully said...you spoke the Truth...and it was the most painful moment in our history....and we are never going to get Over it or move forward...these are deep lasting wounds....thank you for your honesty....namaste

River said...

Governments are the same the world over. Greedy and corrupt. Greed is a powerful tool.

ThomasLB said...

What bugged me as much as anything was that there was food and water and medicine on the ground, and it just sat there because nobody was willing to do anything until they had permission. As if you needed permission to save a life! I saw the pictures of the people stranded at the convention center, and the pictures of the loaded trucks idling at the waters edge, and thought, "Dammit, dumbass, go! Get permission later!"

But they didn't. They just sat there like morons while people suffered and died just a few miles away. All they cared about was themselves; they didn't want to get in trouble.

I remember actor Sean Penn (of all people) was there with an air boat, and personally rescued about 30 people. He should have had a medal pinned on him. Instead, he was criticized for staging a "publicity stunt."

Hel said...

I don't know what to say but I wish there was an answer to poverty and the heartache that accompanies it.

A way that people could all start caring again and helping one another.

Emily said...

What's with the anonymous commenter? You are not anti-American at all. You are anti-horrible-people-who-let-others-die.

What a schmuck.

Lex said...

Poverty was the issue. Absolutely!!

I don't think we can ignore that role that racism has played in creating the socio-economic divide in this country (along racial lines), but I agree that Katrina showed the world that the division in America is between the Haves and the Have Nots.

I am annoyed by the anonymous commenter. There's a problem when one is a part of something, anything, and willfully blind to that something's failures. America is broken in many, many ways. There's no perfect society, but I believe we are much further from that mark than others are.

I despise willfully blind, closed minded loyalty.

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