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Katrina "racism" testimony further erodes nation's good will

The victim mentality of New Orleans was on full display, aided and abetted by race hustlers, at Congressional hearings about response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, giving the rest of the country yet another reason not to care about what happens to Louisiana.

This mentality, that somehow some insidious force beyond the individual’s control causes misery in his life and keeps him in a disadvantaged position in society, is a major reason why Louisiana in general, and New Orleans in particular, are among the poorest areas in the country. Ordinarily, the fruit of this attitude, that a person’s inability to make much of himself in life is not his fault but some “others,” could be seen encapsulated in the Orleans Parish School District, where learning was sacrificed on the altar of inefficiency and politics, few demands were made in learning, and many students and their families did little to change this situation or take control of their educational futures. As a result, it was perhaps the worst school district in America.

But with recent state activity to put education in the hands of those who actually mean it with the near-dismemberment of the district, now the best example of this attitude comes in hearings in front of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina of the U.S. House of Representatives. While the Committee has tackled serious matters previously, allowing self-styled “representatives” of New Orleans evacuees to testify was a sop thrown to the few Democrats on the committee.

Most House Democrats wanted to boycott the enterprise, saying they wanted a federal government-wide investigation, not just that of the House. This is because they knew that, since the Republicans control the House, that in the course of the investigation there would be no shielding to public view of New Orleans as a poster child for the failed liberal policies of the Democrats, where generally policy decisions made by Louisiana but specifically by New Orleans would illustrate the destruction liberal Democrats have visited upon, in particular, our most disadvantaged citizens.

Victimization is a big part of this ideology. We saw it with how the Gov. Kathleen Blanco administration handled the matter of getting troops and buses into New Orleans, depending on others to do it for them, flailing about waiting for help to show up. We saw it in the response in New Orleans, where Mayor Ray Nagin failed to implement plans, instead stalking around complaining he wasn’t getting help. In larger terms, politicians such as these are the product of an electorate that itself is less willing than others to do the things it needs – demand better education, access that better education, stop expecting government to take care of them – than those in other parts of the country. Liberalism excuses these attitudes, saying they’re not people’s fault, and it’s a snake oil that Democrats still try to peddle frequently.

Thus, we get the pathological need to ascribe unfortunate situations to some sinister motive beyond the person’s control, despite no evidence to back it up. In this instance, it’s the idea that “racism” had something to do with rescue operations. Note that for this charge to be credible it would have to be demonstrated that most rescuers (many who were black) were irredeemably racist in attitude and action and/or it was government policy to promote this behavior among them. Since no such evidence exists, only the most exaggerated, wildest accusations can be brought forward to support this claim.

Democrat leaders shied away from participation in this committee’s investigations because they wanted to avoid this welfare-state mentality on parade, of a party that conjures up imaginary impediments of institutionalized racism instead of seriously debating issues, even as they believe it. These beliefs are losers at the ballot box because the American people are smart enough to see that this is not reality.

But one of the party’s genuine kooks didn’t get, or ignored, the message. The main instigator behind this portion of the hearings, the nutty, racist Rep. Cynthia McKinney, eloquently stated from their start, “And the world saw the effects of American-style racism in the drama as it was outplayed [sic] by the Katrina survivors.”

She was followed by, in the main, people who make their living off of crying racism and “community activists” who could offer no hard proof any crazy assertions they made when challenged other than “says you.” Perhaps the most famous comment was the incredulous comparing of the evacuee situation to the Holocaust, but maybe more indicative of the mindset and credibility of the professional complainers is another (again, eloquent) remark made by one them: “It was an issue of race. Because of one thing: when the city had pretty much been evacuated, the people that were left there mostly was [sic] black.”

So, let me get this straight, in a city that mostly is black already, run mostly by black politicians who planned and supervised the (non)evacuation, where a large portion of the flooding occurred in an area of the city where almost all of the residents were black, where because of income differentials blacks disproportionately had reduced private means of evacuation, then the fact that mostly blacks needed rescuing is a sign of racism? Maybe it’s because I didn’t graduate from the typical Orleans Parish public school, but I can’t follow that logic at all.

And neither will the rest of the nation as it debates what kind of assistance the state will receive, and it won’t be too willing to send much to an environment where such moronic attitudes flourish. It doesn’t matter the expressed views aren’t held by all, unlikely even a majority, of Louisianans, but it is things like this or trying to cover incompetency in execution or refusal to reform themselves or relief-money looting whichmake indelible impressions in the minds of the country. Is there any place in America whose people, from its top officials on down, do a better job of shooting themselves in their own feet?


Anonymous said...

it's such a shame that people, both black and white, had to die and still finger-pointing continues in this state and no one in leadership has the backbone to standup and lead. True leaders do not have to "spin"; they just have to "do"...we can figure out the rest!

wst... said...

professor we agree with with you and your arguments.

however we are wondering what you think about...if perhaps all this is somehow predicated upon how this act of god was played out from the beginning.

for example as everyone knows katrina came through on a monday morning 6:20 am. tuesday we awoke to the very sad news that the levees had failed and live on tv we watched the flooding of nola. that same day while we watched our fellow citizens hacking their way through their roofs reports began to emerge about coast guard helicopters being fired on. then the reports of looters.

immediately this news scared the hell out of everyone as nola is already regarded as a tough city. the next day wednesday began the hospitals and the superdome saga. the president of acadian ambulance was on larry king several nights directing relief efforts through the king show. (king had the added bonus of making good tv) then we hear about the hospitals being under seige by drug crazed monsters. the superdome murders and rapes. governmental leaders walking around in a daze. we saw thousands of our fellow citizens suffering but were too afraid to go near them. would we be killed on sight? robbed, beaten by this mass of desperate blacks?

we should accept the fact that we all failed. the government is a joke. the special session was a sham. we should remember that history has shown that no government has ever outlasted its economy.

the genius of the founding fathers was in these three words "we the people..."
we the people need to come to terms with the fact that we have gotten our ownselves in this mess; the partys over.

are we as far gone as sodom and gomorrah in that we cant find even 10 honest people to entrust our state to? thats what it seems like. do we even care?

Anonymous said...

I enjoy regularly reading your blog entries, and rarely do I stop to write a comment. But, I have to say that I'm beginning to be appalled by some of the blatant disregard of Americans in general toward the undercurrents during the Katrina disaster. First, let me point out that racism, of course, didn't fuel Katrina. Nor do I believe that a vengeful God showered down his wrath upon the sinners of New Orleans. Especially considering that bad stuff happens to good people too, and according to my Bible, God doesn't just go around zapping sinners. There's a hell for that. But, I digress. I feel that racism had a part in the unfurling disaster after the storm. I'm sure you've educated yourself on the reasoning behind the cry of racial injustice, as you don't seem to be the type of columnist who'd spew nonsense without first researching both sides. If you had, in fact, educated yourself, you could have examined how the media itself painted black evacuees in a negative light while shielding whites from similar persecution. I.e. the media coverage that captioned a black person photographed taking food stuffs from a store as "looting" while a similar photo of a white person was captioned "trying to survive." If you don't see the racial implications in that, you're just color blind. Images like this became ingrained in the American public's mind, limited the people's receptiveness to helping out as well as coloring New Orleans in the worst possible way. I'm appalled that our country still languishes in moments of stupidity such as this.

It's my fervent opinion that had the disaster played out in a more affluent neighborhood of predominately white persons, the relief efforts would have been doubled. I say this out of simple understand of the social nature of man. Recent scientific testing points out that white and black people still respond to members of the opposite race with the same neurological response as they would to snakes and spiders. Had the disaster effected a predominately white group of individuals, the pictures of other Caucasians suffering would have immediately opened the floodgates of response. There would have been no question of looting; everything would have been a matter of survival. Likewise, studies by centers that monitor natural disasters indicate that minorities tend to make residence in places more easily harmed by catastrophes. For example, the ninth ward was one of the lowest elevational points in the city, and the home of the bulk of New Orleans' 70% black population. Also people with lower incomes are not predisposed homes that are better protected from severe weather. There housing is usually of poorer quality, and as seen during Katrina, transportation is veritably nonexistent.

I feel that as a people, we can't turn a blind eye to the effects of racial misconception. While I don't agree that the race problems were fueled out of an out right desire for harm, I do feel that insensitivity led to the disaster being as prolonged and catastrophic as it was. If we ignore the connotations of race in situations such as these, we pave the way for future injustice. In a time when our world is churning up more and more bad weather and natural occurences that portend furture danger, the time for misconceptions, misguidance, insensitivity, and out right neglect are over and done for.

Further more, the people effected most terribly by Katrina now speak out about how racism played it's role. Don't they have a right to their interpretation of their experiences since they lived through it to tell? And, don't we as a people have a responsibility to consider (fully from all points ethical, scientific, and social) the validity of their point?

Jeff Sadow said...

For your argument to make sense, we would have to assume that most of the responders, as well as those directing them, took race into consideration in their efforts. That's highly implausible; next to no evidence supports that.

If we broaden the definition of "response" to include recovery efforts over the next several years, racism really doesn't seem to be there, either. If nationally people are balking at providing aid, it would be more because they lack confidence in the ability of Louisiana's politicians, not because Ray Nagin or anybody else is black. Interestingly, Nagin may be, politically, the most conservative black mayor of any large city in U.S. history, but the fact of the matter is, no large city in this country ever has prospered under black leadership, because those leaders have been liberals and followed a bankrupt ideology. That may be driving some perceptions nationally (i.e. don't throw money at New Orleans because black liberal leaders will fail to use it wisely) but it is not indicative of racism. Rather, it denotes prudence.

People are entitled to their perceptions, but just because they have them does not mean they are valid. In this instance when they are tested by the standards of truth and logic the testifiers come up short. A dispassionate, impartial review of the situation makes it extremely difficult to claim racism infused the government response to Katrina. And if you're going to go testify in front of Congress, it's your obligation to perform this kind of analysis before you say anything at all.