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Flood Relief - The Black and White of It

A New Orleans woman sits on the side of a stretch of highway she knew her whole life, now abandoned looking at the flooded corpse of her city. Three days without food and sick from the brackish water she hopes will keep her alive until humanitarian aid can provide her with sustainance. But she is a black woman. And no one comes.

Elsewhere, I'm sure, a white woman is being saved by hard laboring aid workers from a similar situation.

There has been extensive bickering between numerous groups and offices in city, state and federal offices trying to find a comfortable place to send the blame for this catastrophe, rooted in a system devoted to "passing the buck" and sweeping issues under the rug. I guess you could say that we were all to blame for a system that is not equipped to deal with energy shortages (i.e. rolling blackouts in California due to inadequacy of PG&E provisions), a border policy that saves money by not guarding the border, and a infrastructure which hasn't been replaced since the early 20th century (i.e. the eastern U.S. blackout in 2003). In fact, we shouldn't have been at all suprised that we had insufficient flood barriers and evacuation plans in our country's most vital port.

That isn't the issue. The issue is race.

There are many facts that have come to light since hurricane Katrina made its devastating sweep through Mississippi and Louisiana. Firstly, the failure of the Department of Defense to dispatch the SUAR teams (submerged urban area relief teams) points a bold finger at the federal government's apathy. This was compounded immediately after the flood by the DOD's decommissioning of the NOSiF-HuTF (New Orleans Sudden Flooding by Hurricane Task Force) and showed the administration's unfortunate stance on the matter.

It was no suprise that even hours after the flood waters reached their peak, President Bush, in a statement to the press, that federal aid workers and National Guard "would be deployed to the area in the event that there was no scheduling conflict". The President was later quoted in a meeting with the Joint Chiefs that "monetary expenditures should be accorded with due consideration to percentage of Republican votes coming from the affected voting districts." Chuckling with Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, the President quipped lightly, "They're only minorities."

In a country divided by many subjective issues; the war in Iraq, fuel scarcity, foreign trade, the country is finally uniting behind one issue: President George W. Bush has decided to let one of the great cities of the American South fall into the sea because there are a lot of black people in it.

It is well that the U.S. progresses beyond the circumstancial issues of this disaster, such as the quibbling about what is wrong with the system, leaving us vulnerable, and ineffectual arguments about how we can avoid a similar situation in the future. Only then can we focus on how the government is out to get us.

S-A-J


 
 
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