Tuesday, September 06, 2005

And another thing…

This past week I’ve had a couple of conversations, read a few blog exchanges and listened to a few newsreports where folks seem to think that all the looting of non-essentials (TVs and VCRs etc.) and taking pot shots at rescuers (which from what I can tell was not nearly as wide spread as was first reported) have something to do with Katrina survivors being poor and/or welfare recipients.

On the one side I hear people saying something to the effect that this is some kind of psychological reaction. There was even a Pyschologist that tried to somehow justify the behavior based on oppression or some such nonsense. On the other side I hear people saying that the looters and shooters are upset that they won’t be getting welfare checks now. And that’s what it’s about.

What the hell? Stealing TVs and VCRs is not a reaction to poverty or a loss of welfare. It is a result of low character and there is no excuse. Is it more likely to happen if the person is poor? Maybe, maybe not. To the extent that poverty often brings with it an inadequate education, that could be true. If you think you can get money for a water-logged big screen TV your problem is more one of intelligence deficiency than finances. (Mayor Nagin suggests the looters were drug addicts. That maybe true in part but I doubt it’s true in all cases.) This is just a glimpse into the worst side of “HUMAN” nature not the nature of the poor or of any specific ethnic group.

But my main problem with both of these attitudes is that the looters/shooters are getting lumped together with the mass of survivors who are justifiably angry at not being rescued in a timely manner. They are citizens of the richest nation in the world. They deserve more.

You have one side saying that, “well they are mostly black so that is why no one cares.” There may a small amount of truth in that but not enough to convince me, because the outpouring of compassion and generosity from my fellow Americans is telling me different. The hold up was a ponderous bureaucracy being more ponderous than normal; magnified by indifference to the value of the human lives at stake. But the overwhelming desire to help among Americans was there. As soon as we started seeing the images of what was happening we reacted. I doubt the survivors anger is directed at their fellow citizens so much as it is at the government that behaves like it doesn’t give damn until it gets embarrassed in the press.

Then there is the other side saying that the survivors are angry because their handouts are now gone. WTF?! This isn’t about a late welfare check, people!!! This is about dying in your own home waiting for days for rescue that never comes. This is about not having food, water, shelter and medical attention while Air Force One dips over head for a peek. This is about the elderly dying in cesspools of sewage. It’s about children being separated from their parents. This is about being told that supplies can’t get through even as you are interviewed by a press that somehow managed to get hundreds of reporters and their equipment in from day one.

The survivors were and still are angry BECAUSE THEY WERE LEFT TO DIE FOR DAYS!!!!

There are still people who await rescue and already there are hints that the hand of hospitality that’s been extended to these refugees is destined to grow cold. The President’s own mother: "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them." (emphasis mine.)

It’s “scary” that they might want have roof over their heads as opposed to going back to a pile of rubble? Living in a mass camp is “working for very well for them,” is it? No Mrs. Bush it’s scary that you don’t understand a damn thing about human beings and you raised the man who is leading this nation. And by the way, I’d bet that every last person in the Astrodome can’t wait until it’s safe to go back and try to salvage what they can and start rebuilding. These folks don’t think they are at sleep-away camp. If they can’t go back home they’re not going to start putting up pictures on the walls of the Astrodome and buying bedroom furniture; they’re going to try to get housing and jobs so they can start living again.

Believe it or not the poor do have pride. Maybe some of them were getting handouts before this happened. But so the fuck what!! What the hell does that have to with their basic needs for food, shelter and safety. And don't forget, a hell of lot of them had jobs too. Maybe not 6-figure jobs, hell maybe not even 5-figure jobs. But they had 'em and they worked for a living. And guess what! Jobs are all gone. In fact the folks on welfare are better off because they already in the system. The handout will not be cut off for them. The people who are truly cutoff from financial assistance are the ones whose jobs were drowned in rush of water.

Alot of these peopleowned small businesses. Some had homes that had been in their families for generations. They may not speak main stream American English but they have a sense of honor (looters & shooters not withstanding). They may not have been rich but they did have dignity. Now that they have lost every possession they’ve ever owned; is too much to ask that they be afforded the respect that every other honorable citizen in this country has come to expect? Is it too much to ask to have them retain at least a shred of that dignity without the mother of the President (among others) implying that they've just become a bunch freeloaders?

Okay. Rant over for now.


Übermilf said...

Blaaaaah! Death to spammers!

I also remember reading about George Sr.'s life -- how he passed the bread lines of the Great Depression on his way to boarding school in the family limo. I need to find this anecdote, because young George did question it at the time, and his dad told him it was a necessary component of the business cycle or something.

Do they understand human suffering?

Girl With An Alibi said...

I'll wipe those spammers out in a second...

BTW I'd be interested to read that anecdote. I don't think they've been touched by human suffering in way of significance. I mean aside from the photo ops. It's just scary. I kept listening to the news clips of his speaches on NO and at the Astrodome wanting desparatly to hear some sincerity and I just don't hear it. He's so detached. And the emotion he does display is so flat and scripted. It just breaks my heart that that is the only encouragement we are hearing from him.

The Humanity Critic said...

great post.

gone said...

Hey, he stopped by!

Christine said...

It is a terrible situation. I read again about snipers shooting at fire fighters and the police and I wonder what they could possibly be thinking?
On the other hand, I think Mrs Bush is getting attacked unfairly. She said something really stupid, true but I doubt she meant it the way it came out. Now we know where Georgie Jr gets it from. DUH. I think a lot of folks that have evacuated are not going back. I know a few families that have moved to my neck of the woods that say economically, N.O. is screwed for a very long time and any root there have been washed away. It is all so sad. However, as usual I love the way americans open their hearts and pocketbooks when people need help. We do live in the greatest country in the world and I am proud of us.

Girl With An Alibi said...

Thanks load for stopping by as Jacob can vouch I am big Humanity Critic Fan. Congrats on the awards BTW.

I know. I'm still fanning myself. Wow! The awesome HC read my blog. *sigh*

Christine -
I just hate that the knuckleheads who are shooting are giving everyone else a bad name. As for Mrs. Bush I think she spoke her true feelings. She's extremely articulate and intelligent (unlike POTUS)and I've never heard her to be one to make such blunders. I just think she probably doesn't "get it" at all. I hope at least by now with the backlash she's getting she understands that she's viewing the evacuees through Bush colored glasses. Fortunately, most Americans don't see it that way and I'm proud of that. Though I worry that some of the families taking people in may not be prepared for the ramifications of long term guests. Hopefully our compassion will prove deeper than our attention spans. But I have faith.

Foreverdad said...

I do not think I have read a more consise compassionalte blog on what is happening in NO and MS. Great blog.

gone said...

You are an amazing woman. Full of passion and love for people. It is a very sad time for many many people and I throw my arms up.
What next?
Great post and I am proud of you for always speaking your mind.

Dex2177 said...

Ah see. It's always nice to see someone smart get a rant on ;-) . Remember that it is the most extreme glueheads that will get airtime on either side because the media is inherantly sensationalist. As for Barbara Bush... well, there's still one Bush left to go through the whitehouse so we probably haven't heard the last of her.

New Orleans had about the highest murder rate in the country and I don't think most of those folks involved were from the affluent suburbs. These people didn't stay because they had all their marbles.

As for looting and poor character... well... if we're talking Walmart it isn't like they aren't insured, I don't feel too bad about that really... Then again odds are I wouldn't have stayed around when the Level 5 hurricane was moving in anyway. The looting and shooting was a result of the state and federal inability to be prepared for something they saw approaching for a week. The serious looting and shooting didn't really take hold until after the place had been abandoned by outside authorities for a few days. It's the hospitals that were the worst along with the stadium. Did you hear about the crap they dealt with? Yikes. If they'd just handed this over to the army they could have secured the place and established communications right off the bat. All the authorities dropped the ball and all the authorities are pointing fingers.

I have to say, living outside the US, that this whole thing is certainly a stain on the image of the United States abroad. The Red Cross is seeking international donations. The concept that outsiders would be requested to donate their own pocket money to help the world's "wealthiest" country because it's own government can't manage it's own affairs gets a lot of guffahs and dubious looks, let me tell ya; especially since the US has spent the last few years smashing as many toes around the world(figuratively and literally speaking) as it possibly can.