Saturday, September 03, 2005

Fear and loathing in New Orleans

Every now and then the Right demonstrates its true colours, its utter lack of compassion and human decency, its stunning absence of humanity. It took the New Orleans disaster to tear away its superficial rags of civility this time. The Right loathes the Black folks in New Orleans, stuck in the Superdome and elsewhere. It doesn't give a damn if they live or die, never mind the occasional sanctimonious exhortations to send relief donations.

Strong words? Want proof? Let's begin with the official Right, you know, the US administration that took days to move their sorry asses south.

  • The Red Cross are absent from New Orleans.They had been ordered by Homeland Security to stay out. Why? Because, a spokesperson said, the people in the Superdome would be attracted to the food and not want to be evacuated. The fact that they were starving and that there was no evacuation in sight made no difference. Don't want to encourage laziness and an entitlement mentality, after all.

  • This video reveals that people were not permitted to evacuate themselves, by crossing a bridge into safety. Officials at checkpoints sent them back to the living hell they were trying to escape. Watching Geraldo Rivera take no crap from the smug Sean Hannity is worth the price of admission.

  • Bush himself has now admitted that things were handled badly. He had little choice. They were. Much more could have been done, but as noted in my last piece, image courtesy of Michael Moore, the New Orleans folks weren't white people in Kennebunkport. Bush later hedged his remark, and spent little or no time with the survivors as he waltzed around the area trying to look presidential. Officials cited "security concerns."
Now, to the blogosphere closer to home. I'll start by providing a few direct quotes with links to show what we've got here in terms of a Rightist response to human suffering:
  • Do they find strength in human dignity and sanctity of life? Do the strong come to the aid of the weak? Do they summon patience and resolve in the knowledge that help is on the way, if only they can find the courage to help themselves a little longer?

    What is their response to this consequence that has befallen them, a consequence largely of their own making?

    "You owe us" .

    They take what others have failed to provide, those things required to sustain life - jewelry and television sets. And when taking isn't enough (it never is), they devolve into predation and anarchy, abandon the weak, turn upon the innocent and each other - and all in a matter of days. [Small Dead Animals]

  • I'm just thankful that the majority of people (I hope), do not have this stunning sense of entitlement [emphasis mine] and are instead grateful [for being rescued at last]. [Celestial Junk]

  • [T]he criminal freaks in New Orleans...should be eaten by alligators. [Least Loved Bedtime Stories]

  • Broadcast after broadcast of whining...the constant references to the “anger” of the “hungry” people in New Orleans (whose fault is it they didn’t think to lay up a week’s worth of food? Did they think that their welfare checks entitled them to magical protection against any suffering from hurricanes?) [Comment at LLBS ]

  • However: one of the reasons poor people are poor is because they can't or won't plan further ahead than tomorrow, next week, or next month (when the cheque comes in) at the most. Those stuck in New Orleans are, according to reports I've heard, most likely lifelong recipients of public assistance. The government is "supposed" to help them, and do so immediately and immaculately. Resourcefulness, self-restraint, a sense of their own and other people's inherent dignity -- these things have been eroded as surely as the coastline. [Relapsed Catholic]

  • [A]ny area where blacks are the predominant race is going to revert to savagery when civilian control is cut off as it was this week in NO. It's just blacks being blacks; no other explanation is needed. [Comment on]

Ah, the refreshing honesty of that last comment. What all the rest of them doubtless wanted to say at some level, but wouldn't dare admit it, possibly even to themselves. What do we see in these sick-making, racism-tinged attempts to blame the victim? An absolutely gut-wrenching lack of empathy. Utter contempt for the sufferers--it was their own fault. Asking for food after days without? Those lazy bums were just demonstrating a shocking sense of entitlement.

This is the Right, uncloaked in a crisis. Behind its pious talk of values, its endless excuse-making, its smug self-reassurance that the victims of Katrina had only themselves to blame, this is its true character: a grinning mask of pure hatred, with nothing recognizably human behind it.

UPDATE (September 14). It has been rightly pointed out that the Homeland Security officials who refused admittance of the Red Cross to New Orleans were from the state Homeland Security, not the federal one. Indeed, my link made that clear, but I failed to correct the context. The federal agency FEMA did more than enough to cause misery in that situation, but federal Homeland Security gets a pass. Mea culpa.

No comments: