Log in

No account? Create an account
No bullshit

Credit where credit is due

Still hesitant to engage much in the way of Hurricane Katrina commentary, but noting a couple of items:
  • First, a great use of Google maps and "Wiki"-style community contribution. Wicked smaht; I hope it helps many people.
  • Second, those wanting to make a hero out of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (especially while criticizing the response of other authorities) have some serious questions to answer first (via Nagin's Wikipedia entry):
    Nagin's performance in the Hurricane Katrina crisis has been criticized as well and Nagin has been accused of deflection. As mayor he was responsible for establishing evacuation centers and keeping local order. Yet apparantly there were no meals ready to eat (MRE's) stored at his designated evacuation center—the Superdome. There was no water purification equipment on site, no chemical toilets, anti-biotics or anti-diarrheals stored for a crisis. The mayor had not designated any medical staff to work the evacuation center. The city had not established a secure sick bay within the Superdome. The city had not sent police or other vehicles through the poorest neighborhoods with evacuation announcements prior to the storm. There were no functioning backup emergency communications police or fire-rescue radios available. Additionally, the city stored the school buses on low ground where they were flooded and then not available for evacuation.
    Dude. Duh. There's just no way to throw stones at FEMA, et al. without completely wrecking Nagin's glass house (something not well understood by self-absorbed grandstanders like Kanye West). While others take heat while also managing multiple priorities on state, regional, national, and global levels, Nagin had a single area of responsibility—New Orleans, the city that elected him—and biffed it in ways that contributed immediately and directly to the suffering residents continue to face. When the time comes to debrief and assign blame (not yet, Kanye—simma da na!), he would do well to prepare for a steaming helping.


And that's something *lots* of Americans do. It's a fact that people of color often see things differently than white folks, and that's not a criticism, it's just an observation. For me race and poverty *are* policy discussions, and you can't throw out the reality of instituional racism and poverty just because they're inconvenient.

Oh, I'm sorry, I think I was really unclear. By "someone's appearance," I didn't mean that I tune out about race—I don't (I used to teach a college course on racism and sexism in America). I meant that I was surprised that Bush's appearance was a key point of what you were saying, (you used the term "smirking monkey," I think), and that just loses credibility with me.

When it comes to Live Journal discussions, what does it really matter anyway?

I really enjoy this discussion and am very okay with where and how we are disagreeing. That's the kind of conversation I think can be helpful. Oh, and you were extremely gracious with me in your response, considering it sounded to you as if I was dismissing race as an issue (rather than your comments re: Bush's physical appearance). I would have ripped me a new one! So kudos.

Let's say that the buses had been available and the evacuation plan had been put into place. Where would people have gone? And once they'd gotten there, what would have happened to them?

Wish that was the case. It wasn't. I'd rather argue over money than over bodies. There will be lots of time for doing that. But letting people die is a bigger deal for me than "what will happen now?" We will all be dealing with what happens now for a very long time, no doubt. And one can choose to be angry in advance about the mistakes we may make and difficulties we may face. I'd still rather have more living people to worry about than we do, even though that costs more. That is a larger problem for me.
Thanks for the clarification. I do have a strong reaction to Bush's smirk because I think it's evidence of how he just doesn't get it, but I can see how it would also be off-putting to bring it up. It's just when he's doing his "zero tolerance" thing with Diane Sawyer and his non-verbals say he's *amused*, it's a problem for me. Communication is more than just the words you say. This isn't "I don't like the look of the man." I mean, he looks just like his mother, and I (mostly) *like* his mother. It's "Does he even understand the message he's broadcasting with his non-verbal communication?" Granted, calling him a monkey doesn't strengthen my position (and it's insulting to monkeys - sorry, I couldn't resist). I suppose this is how a lot of the conservatives who couldn't stand the sight of Bill Clinton felt.

Like you, I'm also angry that people died due to incompetence and poor planning. My current problem is that people are *continuing* to die, due in great part to poor planning and poor funding at the federal level. Disaster planning is more than just evacuations. People are dying from heat exhaustion, dehydration, inavailability of medicines, etc. Soon, they'll be dying of diseases from the rotting bodies in the streets. Like I said, there's a lot of blame to go around, but Bush and co. aren't free from it, and that's really, at the core, my point.
We're concerned about some similar things at this point. Where we may differ is how much can honestly be done and how quickly it can be done. I hear people compare response times unfavorably to the tsunami, but I'm not sure that's true—it may be something that just seems true because we had an easier time changing the channel, not to mention the fact that much of that area of the world was more accustomed to responding to natural disaster. With as much notice as we had, much of the tsunami region would simply have been cleared. We didn't go that route and we're paying for it—it is, quite simply, much harder to manage a disaster like this when you've left significant populations in the disaster zones. So I'm open to hearing some criticism, but Nagin is a poor source for it.

Can this happen faster? I'm just not convinced; there's nothing to compare it with. And when people are suffering this deeply, nothing seems fast enough.