Friday, September 02, 2005

Is This America?

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Flooded streets


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Bush views the damage


I don't know if it's because I recently walked through the Garden District and French Quarter, rode the trolley down Canal Street, and enjoyed the beautiful city of New Orleans, but this tragedy has affected me deeply. Perhaps most remarkable to me is the extent to which a single event can unravel the fabric of society. "Baffling" and "remarkable" do not capture the reports of dead bodies, riots, looting, murder, starvation, death, rape, and utter despair from this formerly prominent city in the United States. How can this happen in America? Among other things, it is most evident that those who are suffering the most are poor and black. This event has brought to the surface what already occurs in this country each day -- that the poorest suffer the most, that many of those poor are black, and sympathy and compassion for the abjectly poor do not come as freely as they would for the rich. Could it be that we truly care less for people who are poor, for people who are black, that we value their lives less? This ugly truth is being revealed as I hear talk of what happened there. "Those people should have just left when they were told to leave." "How can they live in a city that could be destroyed by a hurricane that easily? Why are those people looting, how can they be so lawless?" Would we blame them for these things if they were rich and white? Would it have turned out the same way if the victims were rich and white? I don't know the answer to these questions.

What I do know is that we as a country need to wake up to this -- we are not immune from tragedy, and we are not unbeatable. For now, I hope those things that make us great -- our generosity, our innovation, our ability to survive -- allow us to get through this. I will reserve comment on the inaction of our fearless leader. It seems his biggest concern is what has happened to the oil and energy industry down there.

My heart goes out to New Orleans, and to Mississippi and the rest of the Gulf coast.

2 Comments:

Blogger skitbraviking said...

Well put.

8:21 PM CDT  
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