Location: Southeastern, United States

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Fourth of September

I am learning, at least, from watching my innate reactions to the flood of New Orleans. I am learning that I don't like to be caught up in floods of national emotion, that in fact I distrust them. It is horrible; yes it is horrible. What happened in the Superdome and in the Convention Center could have been prevented and I do think that there are real and specific reasons why they turned into a vertiable genocide-by-neglect. But these things happen in our world. They happen to poor people, they happen to black people, they happen to children and they happen to women. They happen in human and natural disasters. The fact that there were army people there looking them in the face driving by and lobbing water bottles at them - and the fact that at least there were water bottles - does not really make it a different thing that happened.

I am learning some things about my political views from this. I am learning that I want strong government, that I am furious at people who are sitting there blithely advocating libertarianism as a way to, I don't know, medivac people out of a flood zone. Initiative does not fix levees, concrete does. Initiative does not pluck people off rooftops, trained men and women in helicopters do. I believe that community is stronger than violence, that self-organization is stronger than disaster, but do you have any idea how many people died in New Orleans? Is it any wonder that whatever social bonds might have gotten people through were shattered? That's what a government is supposed to be, an organization that protects the weakest, that provides the community, the organization, and the goddamn concrete and helicopters when necessary.

I have been learning that some people are bigots, that some people are really, truly awful, but that the majority of the world doesn't think that being poor and black should be a death sentance. The majority of people are not capable of baldfacedly denying common humanity in this situation. I hope I remember that after this particular crisis is over.



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