I don't know why I bother. I guess I'm just hard-headed.
I stumbled upon a blog that had some fairly callous things to say about Louisiana and our slow recovery from the injuries of Hurricane Katrina. The blog advertised itself as a "right wing" blog, so I should have surfed away.
But I didn't.
The blog and its commenters put 100% of the blame for the before, during and after Katrina problems completely on Louisiana and New Orleans. Their view was that President Bush and the federal government had done everything they could and should, and that nothing more remained but for the locals to finish the job. In their view, people here are stupid, lazy and corrupt, and all our elected officials are eligible for a cameo on The Sopranos.
I thought if they heard more of the facts, they'd understand. I thought if they heard our side of the story, they'd empathize. I thought if they actually interacted with a living human being, they could drop their cruel stereotypes and grasp what their fellow Americans are going through.
You probably see where this is headed. When I went on that right-wing blog to criticize the federal response to Katrina, they jumped all over me. Here is part of what they wrote:
"George Bush promised help and he came through..it isn’t the responsibility of the feds to come in an do the states job..if that’s what it will take, I’m sure the federal government can seize control of your state..is that what needs to happen?"
"It isn’t the Federal governments responsibility to rebuild your city..it is the job of the State. The Feds have sent the money yet it sits…what good will it do to send more if they haven’t even utilized the funds they have received?"
"If New Orleanians are so stupid as to re-elect an incompetent fool like Nagin, why the hell should anyone else care about them?"
"Tim it isn’t just that you elected poor leaders (we do that here too) but you reelected the incompetent Nagin, with the very recent public display of his gross incompetence still in the recent memory."
"As an outsider looking in, it’s time for you, the residents, to say enough with the waste and fraud that your government has garnered a reputation for…You, the people, are the ones "serving time" for the sins(corruption) of your politicians(many long gone), that you all seem accept as the status quo."
"It isn’t your fault that the storm hit, but you run a risk when living in cities like that."
"Tim, those of us that don’t live there see things a bit differently. NOLA has been sinking yearly and prior to Katrina, it was well below sea-level…there is a risk that the individual takes in choosing to live in that particular region…that may sound cold, but it is true."
Although I was critical of the president and congress, I agreed with much of their criticism of our local politicians. I take the position that in this case, there's room for everyone at the table of blame.
But these folks would have none of it. I was repeatedly told that it was completely a local problem.
And to throw salt on the wound, they even accused me of exaggerating the scale of disaster. When I pointed out that this was a catastrophe without equal, they scoffed. Can I coin a new term here? They're "Katrina Deniers."
"The largest was Camille in 69." one poster noted with a link to a web page that ranks the most powerful hurricanes by wind speed at landfall.
I have a joke for that guy: Knock, Knock. Who's there? Storm surge. Storm surge who? DOUCHE!
Except the joke is not all that funny.
To me, the problems we are dealing with in the aftermath of Katrina were neither made by nor can they be resolved by one political persuasion or another. We have problems and we need to get things fixed. I honestly would not care if the president was a Christian Socialist and the governor was a Whig--all I care is that they do their jobs.
This catastrophe was the result of neither the scheming nor the negligence of any political party. We got whacked with the biggest hurricane we've ever witnessed and the hurricane protection system did not do the job it was supposed to. Period. Now let's get out of this mire and fix it so it never happens again.
But you know, for those who consider politics a game, Katrina is just good sport. Naturally, the president gets most of the blame, with generous heaps of culpability to spare for the Governor and Mayor. And now that the president's loyal opposition runs Congress, the legislative branch is jumping on the issue to rub the president's nose in it.
But the blame game doesn't help. It doesn't rebuild houses, it doesn't fix the streets, and it doesn't promote confidence that anybody "in charge" knows what needs to be done or will do it.
Again, I don't care about the politics. I'm registered neither Republican nor Democrat, so quit playing that loser's game.
My analysis of the situation is that there were failures in every corner: Failure of engineering, failure of community planning, failure of state building codes, failure of local emergency preparation, failure of state levee boards, failure of federal response, failure of the president to fulfill his promises to help us rebuild, failure of the governor to draft a sensible plan, failure of the mayor to articulate a vision, failure of the voters to entrust leadership at all levels to reputable and effective people--the list goes on and on.
About the only people who have no blame here is the National Weather Service.
They were, unfortunately, deadly accurate in their warnings and forecasts.
To those who harbor such animosity toward the people of Louisiana and New Orleans, I have nothing more to say. Their callous contempt for their struggling fellow Americans reveals the content of their character.
Given the choice, I'd rather be here in my city and my state with all its flaws than with people like them any day of the week.