Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Conspiracy With Mother Nature?

There is a lot of angry buzz on the blogs about the flood in New Orleans. There are accusations, especially by blacks, that everything that happened was the result of racism.

I think any time people are angry, they have a perception that supports that anger.

Whether that perception is correct or not, I don't know.

While we know that racism is alive and well in this country, I did not think any racism was intentional, but more a result of those in charge having the same old disregard for the poor that we always see.

However, I have heard a couple of things that are disturbing. They, quite frankly, support the contention that what happened was not an accident, but deliberate.

The first jarring words came from House Speaker Dennis Hastert. After the devastation in New Orleans became apparent, Hastert issued a statement something like: "We've wanted to get rid of the slums for years. We couldn't do it, but God did."

I thought that comment was crass for a couple of reasons.

First, slums may have been destroyed, but they were still people's homes and those people went through hell losing them.

Second, I thought his gall in speaking as though all that destruction and suffering was part of "god's plan" and a good thing - since Hastert and others wanted it - was astounding.

I chalked it up to a pampered politician who lacks empathy and put his foot in his mouth.

Then I saw an interview on Charlie Rose.

Forgive me, but I've visited the PBS site to try and find the name of the man interviewed, but I am unable to identify him. I got the impression he was associated with a newspaper or other media, who had been following the story. It might have been Anderson Cooper, but please don't hold me to that. I honestly don't remember.

In any event, during the course of the interview, he referred to a "conspiracy" that he said he did not believe in, but which many people do believe in. I had no idea, at that point, what he was talking about.

He said it is fact that the city of New Orleans has no industry and is dependent upon tourism.

Because of this, politicians have tried for years to get rid of the slums and public housing, in order to make New Orleans more "tourist friendly."

When I heard this, it put Hastert's comment in context.

Now while I was ignorant of this struggle, the poor people of New Orleans - most of whom are black - have been very much aware of it because, essentially, to get rid of the slums meant getting rid of them. There wasn't any huge push to get Habitat For Humanity in there, building decent homes for them as replacements.

The result is that many apparently believe work on the levees was stopped so that when - not if, but when - a category 5 struck, they, their slums and public housing would be washed away.

Whether they are correct or not, I don't know. However, it is a fact that the slums have been, essentially, washed away.

Most of the poor who were evacuated will not return. The residences they left behind will have to be bulldozed because, according to another article I read, mold has penetrated as far as the studs in these buildings and you can't get rid of it. The mold is so noxious it has made the buildings entirely uninhabitable. The only solution, at this point, is demolition.

Yet the experts all say the flooding was fully preventable.

There were reports, warnings and predictions as to exactly what would happen when a category 5 struck. In addition, as I stated, the prediction was not if a category 5 would strike, but when. The recommendations including rebuilding the levees so they could withstand a 5 and restoring wetlands as a first defense. Of course not only were these recommendations not followed, all maintenance work was halted.

So I can understand how it can look like there was a covert conspiracy to get rid of poor, black people and rebuild New Orleans around the tourist trade.

The question is: is that just how it looks, or is that how it went down?

If in fact there was a complicit plan to just ignore New Orleans and leave her vulnerable in hopes of nature taking her course, then I think the people of New Orleans have every right to be very angry. I think black people, especially, have a right to be angry. Because if this is what happened, they were treated like refuse.

We may never know the truth, but I, for one, have an uneasy feeling that once again, just as there was with the war in Iraq, there has been an agenda at work about which most of us knew nothing.


At 10/19/2005 2:19 PM, Blogger Charlotte Fairchild said...

It looks like there was a motive for not caring for the poor. There has been a white flight from New Orleans for years, from what I have been told and heard in the news.

This is provocative thinking!


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