Friday, September 02, 2005

As I've watched things in NO deteriorate over the past few days, I've been thinking long and hard about why things are the way they are. I have a few things I need to blog, if only to help me think them through. Forgive the meandering:

a. The issue of race is hard to avoid. The majority of the sufferers on TV are obviously black... NO is around 3/4 black, but I'd guess that 90-95% of those I've seen at the Superdome and Convention Center are. The reasons that they are the ones we see is because they are the poorest. The real issue is NOT that the government has been slow to help because they are black... I don't believe that for a second. The issue is an older one... why are blacks still the ones overwhelmingly in poverty? Poverty is what made them vulnerable. I also know there is no one answer to this question, but I think they some are 1. the legacy of slavery, 2. illegitimacy rates among blacks, 3. poor education system, 4. racism, 5. apathy by the powers that be 6. failed socialist type programs. Don't misunderstand, I'm not downplaying the role of whites... but I'm also not dumb enough to think that any kind of program, conservative or liberal (however good they make whites feel), can fix a culture where a majority of children do not have a father in the home. That is not to say that the government can't play a part in changing things... it had better... and spending lots of money will be part of it. But no politician, college professor, preacher, or government check can fill the void left by a nonexistent father. I'm not saying that this means that the refugees deserve their plight... I deserve as much or more than they... but the single mother home is a primary indicator of a child in poverty. Remember my #1 factor is still the legacy of slavery. The subsequent Reconstruction and segregation of the south is a big reason for the chasm that currently exists between blacks and whites... and little has been done to address this.

So we have the poor of NO and MS, most of them black, facing this nightmare...

b. Is this really happening in the US? I've heard reporter after reporter say he's seen this in other places, but never would he have suspected it here. I'll give the reasons why I think the situation is as dire as it is:
1. unpreparedness - this goes for the city of NO (who has seperate politicians in different constituencies responsible for each levee... all of whom failed to recognize the importance of their job... NO politics are notoriously slimey), the state (LA has been a dollar short and a day late), and the federal govt who, though they issue warnings of potential danger, obviously fail to believe them and mobilize way too late. I attribute most of this to our flawed humanity... 20,000 died in France 2 years ago because of a heat wave... nobody thinks the worst will happen so they don't prepare. The result is that those least able to cope are left to suffer. (Do you think L.A. is really ready for 'the big one'?) But, in our fallen humanity, we will certainly plan so that the last tragedy won't happen again... and we'll ignore the one that is screaming at us. I bet NO will have 10 levees, all able to weather a Cat 5 hurricane, in 20 years... and another won't come for 200.

2. failure to face reality - over and over these govt people show that they won't admit the truth. Good for the mayor of NO for finally getting mad and letting the press know... but remember that he was one of the ones saying that NO has dodged a bullet a few days before. Everybody wants to cover their rear ends... so few worry about others. They want to believe that things are better than they are because they look better.

3. pride - Why would America be immune? Just because we have money and military might doesn't mean we won't be left looking horribly weak and ignorant at times.

But in the weeks and months to come we'll be able to look back more clearly and see where to place blame. One thing is for sure... we should all donate money to the relief... now. The Red Cross is a natural place to start.

I hope my ministry group can go down and help soon.

c. While I was amazed at the looting at first, I'm really amazed at how well behaved the overwhelming majority of those suffering have been. They are desperate but calm; ill equipped but trying to help the sick, elderly, and young; tired but courageous. I don't know how they do it.

d. Is part of the problem the overcoverage of lesser hurricanes by the news networks? Were some folks less inclined to leave the area because they'd know CNN, Fox, etc. to make a big deal out of what turned out to be a minor storm? Are we crying 'wolf' too much?

e. Is there any way that NO will ever be the metropolis it was again? Should it be?

f. Did I really see the gas station near my office change its prices twice in a couple of hours? Is this really attributable to the hurricane?

I have some happier things to blog about... tomorrow. I had to get this one out of my system.


Blogger whatusay said...

Galveston was the largest city in Texas before the 1900 hurricane that leveled the city. Houston, 50 miles inland, is now the biggest city. Galveston never recovered. There was a good report on NPR this morning stating how many think the same thing will happen with NO and Baton Rouge, aka, the Red Bat.

2:12 PM  

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