Tuesday, April 11, 2006

In America

You can only search for the victims of catastrophe until you run out of overtime money. Fourteen bodies of hurricane Katrina victims have been found in New Orleans since February. Bodies have been found in attics, under rubble, still in homes that had been searched in September, in every neighborhood, poor and affluent, where flooding occurred. In the middle class, mostly white neighborhood of Lakeview, one landlord put a "For Sale" sign in front of a house still occupied by the corpse of one of his tenants.

In America, the fourth largest port in the world is getting foreign aid from France and Millions in relief, educational, cultural, food and supplies, and even divers to assess damage to the port facilities.

This is the country we live in. Funny I don't remember us being so helpless in the face of natural or unnatural disasters before.

But then I don't remember such dishonesty and bitterness toward the disenfranchised among us either. Maybe I've been living in some American dream or other.

Posted by Isonomist-- HERE.

It's a different place.

I agree with you that it is difficult to recognize this country as the one I thought I knew. This is the first time I can remember being told (not explicitly, but as you pointed out, in quite clear subtext) that it's all right, we don't really have to care for disaster victims. It was all their fault; for living where they did, for electing the local and state officials they did, and just for being generally undisciplined, criminal, unhygienic semi-humans. This obviously wasn't the perspective of everyone, of probably even of the majority, but a loud minority nevertheless pounded this message home at high volume.

And while this effort was prompted mainly by a desire to protect the president and those around him from the political blowback of the bungled disaster response, it has nevertheless sent a clear message even to those not so personally invested in supporting Bush: it's OK, nothing to see here, people. You gave your donations and wore your tribute bracelet or lapel pin, now the disaster is over. Go back to your normal lives. Your next scheduled time to think about New Orleans will be at Mardi Gras time next year. Don't worry, we'll give you a heads-up - we know that whole Easter-Lent-Mardi Gras schedule is hard to keep straight.

And so no one will notice as the toll of the disaster continues to rise, like the silent tree falling in the forest. No one will tell of the near-heroic efforts of the people who have returned trying to rebuild their lives and their city against all odds. And no one will understand that those very efforts are even now being hindered by the most banal of roadblocks: businesses or new-home building that cannot start because insurance companies will not write a policy (not even an extortionary one), promised federal aid not materializing anywhere other than contractors' pockets, and citizens unable to participate in the election of the mayor who will guide the city toward a cloudy horizon.

It's OK, you don't have to care. Move along, people, nothing to see here.

Posted by Sawbones.
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