Friday, June 27, 2008

Yes, There Is A Double Standard......

going on regarding what politicians and other people have been saying about this current flooding and what they said after the federal flood about New Orleans and those it impacted. I was cynical enough and had had my suspicions as I noticed that something was missing.

To wit: Nobody, even though some of the currently-affected communities along the Mississippi which had also been affected in the flooding of 1993 have been flooded again, has been telling the folks in these communities that they should not rebuild......

While, regarding New Orleans, people from then-Speaker of the House Denny Hastert on down almost immediately started calling for the bulldozing of New Orleans and turning her into swampland.

According to the author of this LSU Reveille editorial, there has been such a double standard--which confirms my suspicions.

But what the author talks about is only the tip of the iceberg. Because there's more: what got and still gets my hackles up about New Orleans is the fact that the MSM, by showing mostly-black and poor flood survivors, affected American's perceptions of New Orleans, including those of the Bush Administration. This is in spite of the fact that actually people of all races and classes were impacted by the flooding. I know I've said this often before, but it's germane to what I'm about to add.

While regarding Iowa and the rest of the Midwest, while as with the fact that not all impacted by the New Orleans flood were black, not all flood survivors in the Midwest are white, the perception on the part of some seems to be otherwise. Lately a cesspool of disrespect for New Orleans and Louisiana, if not outright racism, has overflowed. It's a replay of the abusive remarks racist Americans would further torture an anguished Louisiana with after the flood.

And Tim Wise adds more about stereotypes and other misconceptions about both the people of Iowa and of New Orleans, which have been even now working to New Orleanians' detriment:
there's Rush Limbaugh, who has decided to use the flooding in Iowa not to demonstrate compassion, but as an opportunity to make derogatory statements about poor black folks: specifically those caught by the flooding in New Orleans after Katrina in 2005.

This week, as folks in Iowa, Indiana and parts of Illinois have watched flood waters rise ever higher, Limbaugh took to the air to contrast these supposedly good and decent people who have joined forces to help each other, with the presumably evil, lazy and violent folks of New Orleans, who we are told, did nothing but foment criminality and wait for the government to save them during flooding there in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Thus, we have his statement of a few days ago, in which he noted that in the midst of the devastation in the Midwest:

"I see people working together. I see people trying to save their property...I don't see a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters. I don't see a bunch of people running shooting cops. I don't see a bunch of people raping people on the street...I see the heartland of America. When I look at Iowa and when I look at Illinois, I see the backbone of America."

Well, we all know Limbaugh is an Extremely Annoying wingnut gasbag with racial attitudes that are more than a little questionable, but Wise adds:
Sadly it isn't only Limbaugh who has been making these kinds of comparisons. Millions of us have also been subjected to the e-blast missives making the rounds, which seek to contrast the law-abiding, God-fearing, and (let us not forget) mostly white farming folks of the Midwest to the black, urban, and congenitally defective folks of the Big Easy. If you haven't received something like this from a friend, relative or co-worker yet, just wait, because you probably will soon.

But what all of these like-minded rants indicate--whether spewed to 20 million pliant sheep via the airwaves, or posted on a pathetic little blog read by no one--is the dishonesty of those offering them up. Either that, or the fundamental ineptitude of the same when it comes to doing basic research, fact-checking, or merely paying attention to the fundamental differences between the flooding of New Orleans and that of rural and small town Iowa communities.

Examples of racist and otherwise anti-New Orleans comments by other Americans can be seen in the comments under these posts in Sean Hannity's forum and in Black Spin. Take a look at the negative, stereotypical remarks on this forum where Iowa's relative paucity of crime is discussed. Fortunately they're interspersed with those of others better informed as to what happened in New Orleans during and after the flood as well as the differences (e.g. population density) between New Orleans and Iowa communities.

Wise lists the major differences in how the federal government handled the New Orleans disaster, and in other aspects. He mentions that not only were there very few escape routes out, residents were actually prevented from escape by armed police from a neighboring parish. And how many didn't have access to cars they could use for escape. He reminds us of how tens of thousands were jammed into the Superdome and the Convention Center. Last but not least, he tells us not only how the Department of Homeland Security kept the Red Cross from entering New Orleans, FEMA itself didn't show up for several days. None of which happened in Iowa.

And I'm going to add that I predict that Iowa and the rest of the states impacted by this flooding will be better treated by BushCo as long as they're still in office, than was Louisiana. If anyone needs more evidence that BushCo has been attempting to carry out ethnic cleansing, if not outright cultural genocide, in Louisiana, this is it.

Wise adds later in the article:
So consider Limbaugh's formulation, where he says, "I don't see a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters, I don't see a bunch of people running shooting cops. I don't see a bunch of people raping people on the street."

Fair enough. Those things aren't happening in Iowa. Yet, according to multiple post-Katrina investigations, and stories written up by the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the New Orleans Times Picayune, the Guardian (London), the New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Reason Magazine and the American Journalism Review, they weren't happening in New Orleans either. Reports of shooting at helicopters, or rapes or murders were almost entirely false. There were no murders in the evacuation centers, few if any sexual assaults (and none on the street as Limbaugh claimed), no helicopters fired on, and no police officers shot by residents. Yes, there was looting, although by a distinct minority of persons trapped in the city, and overwhelmingly for necessities like food, medicine, water,and clothing to replace the rotting, soaked rags people were wearing after wading through waist-deep water. And according to persons on the ground in the flood zone, even the luxury items taken were typically used as barter chips, to get rides out of the city for oneself and one's family when it became obvious that large scale assistance wasn't going to arrive any time soon. In other words, reports of widespread thuggery in New Orleans during the flooding have been greatly exaggerated, if not entirely fabricated, and have only remained believable to millions because of the race and class biases that allow people to believe the worst about poor black folks even without a shred of actual evidence.

Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but the notion that there has been no looting in the Midwest, presumably because white rural folk are more civilized than their black and urban counterparts is demonstrably untrue. There have been several reports of theft in Columbus, Indiana, for instance--mostly people taking things out of folks' front yards that have been left out to dry--and in Cedar Rapids, police recently made their first looting arrest (though there have been other reports of theft as well), of a white woman who was stealing alcohol from a local bar.

(I hope I didn't quote Wise too extensively, and bear with me if I did, but he was an excellent source who put everything into perspective. It was from reading Wise that I learned of crimes that had happened after Indiana and Iowa flooding--when in contrast, during and after the New Orleans flood, you heard all over the place about violent crime in New Orleans--then weeks later when such stories were debunked, there wasn't much about that in the MSM--so the more ignorant still have the impression that New Orleans was something like a Thid World trouble spot back then>)

Back to New Orleans--HuffPo's Georgianne Nienaber reports that a new call has been made for an 8/29 Commission. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu had drafted the legislation, but per Nienaber
To this date, Republicans have blocked the bill and it is languishing in committee.

I hope some of these Senators, probably racists who want to blow off New Orleans because they erroneously see her as a "black" city, are from states affected by the current Midwest deluge--that would be karmic.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm frustrated and discouraged........

because for the last three months I've organized a NOLA/Gulf Blogathon on Daily Kos to call attention to the fact that, although Katrina and the federal flood happened close to three years ago, their lingering after-effects and the recovery of New Orleans and the other communities haven't been getting the attention they need to be getting. From such people/groups as the mainstream media, politicians (including presidential candidates) and others.

The last time I organized a Blogathon, it was hard to get people to sign up, and the latest time I announced one to sign up for, nobody other than me signed up. And even worse, I can't even think of anything really new to write about--which makes me reluctant to try to get others to commit for this month.

So I decided it would be a good idea to hold off on any more Blogathons until Wed., Aug. 27--Thurs. Aug. 28, figuring that around that time, between 8/29's anniversary and the picking up of hurricane season, there would be more of an interest.

About Me

My photo
Midwest lover of New Orleans and of all things having to do with Louisiana.