Hurricane Katrina is a human tragedy and I encourage you all to pray for those caught in its wake.
With untold numbers of dead and billions of dollars in damage, the forces of this world seemed to have declared war against the American Gulf Coast region.
All of us were transfixed by the images streaming from media outlets of the Superdome and other devastated areas.
The outpouring of support from the American people, charitable groups and businesses has been arriving in the Gulf, but an outpouring of something else has also been present. I’m not referring to the toxic waste that has been unleashed into the flood waters, although this is kind of close to it.
Last week, I told all of you about the unholy alliance between the president’s enemies and the media. This specter has appeared once more.
Hours after the hurricane hit and the devastation was visible, the finger-pointing and conspiracy breeding began by politicians and the media. Bush cut funding for the levees to pay for his war in Iraq! People were ignored because of their skin colors! The federal government bungled the relief effort!
It goes on and on. It has even gotten so bad that I wouldn’t be surprised if they would have you believe behind the scenes President Bush was at a secret undisclosed location (with Dick Cheney, of course) where he single-handedly destroyed the Gulf Coast for kicks. I am not going to stoop to the level of some of my fellow columnists and blame politicians (although I could easily blame Governor Blanco), but instead I will provide something the media can hardly stand – perspective and facts to cut through the lies and distortions.
The city of New Orleans is shaped like a bowl. Since many parts of the city are below sea level, a system of dams and levees are needed to keep the water at bay.
Bush’s opponents, chiefly Sidney Blumenthal (a partisan hack) contend that the president’s cuts to an Army Corps of Engineer’s project to strengthen the levees doomed the city.
It turns out that the levee building project which Bush cut the funding from would most likely have never stopped Katrina. The current levee construction, even if fully funded, would not have been finished until 2015, and could have only contained a Category 3 storm – not a Category 4 storm like Katrina.
Yet somehow I get the impression that some people feel this nation is so powerful that we can stop hurricanes at our shores through our might. They feel that the city should have been pumped and rebuilt overnight.
Folks, this was one of the strongest storms on record, flooding an entire city, sinking it into anarchy and mob rule; police and rescuers had to flee for their lives. We are not as invincible as some of us think. We are still at the mercy of the forces of nature.
Meanwhile, the old, tired race card was dusted off and brought out to gain the political upper hand. As we know, over 70 percent of the city of New Orleans is black and there is a large amount of poverty.
Yet somehow the fact that large numbers of blacks could not get out of the city was Bush’s and the Republicans’ fault, and they don’t care, according to Kanye West and other intellectual lightweights. Democratic National Convention chair Howard Dean was also quick to bring up race and poverty as factors which exasperated the storm’s effect.
The implication of course is that his party is the one who really cares and helps blacks and other minorities, and not those racist Republicans. Neither could be further from the truth. Although Louisiana is a red state this election, they have had a grand total of three Republican governors in the past 127 years.
The mayor of New Orleans was a Democrat as well, continuing the tradition of his party’s control over the state. Dean, Governor Blanco and their predecessors have more to answer for when it comes to minorities being poor in a state where they have had free reign from the advent of Jim Crow to the present than Republicans ever will.
Now, will I give a blanket of amnesty to anyone involved in this debacle? No, of course not, I’m sure mistakes were made.
Yet most troubling is that some reporters and politicians are more concerned with finger-pointing and seeking to trash their opponents than actually helping people.
Did we see any reporters using their fancy news helicopters to bring food and aid? Do we see any environmental groups so quick to castigate the president over global warming helping out?
The biggest disgrace in my mind is that the waters are still not cleared and we have this vicious blame game going around.
Sept. 11, 2001 brought out the best in this nation and political rivals put their disagreements aside for a short time to finish with the search and rescue. Yet today, we see Hillary Clinton demanding 9/11-style investigations. These will undoubtedly bring us the same amount of “gotcha politics” that marked that inquiry.
As Americans, we should be ashamed, not of the good people helping out their fellow men, but of the armchair politicians trying to use this catastrophe for disgusting political gain.
Information from – releases.usnewswire.com, louisianahistory.com, news.yahoo.com, factcheck.org