Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Aftermath of Katrina Exposes the Underlying Malaise of Racism and the Inequitable Distribution of Wealth

The horrific images of tens of thousands of poor and mostly black residents of New Orleans that were left completely stranded for days without food, water and other basic amenities expose the unattended disease of both racism and the grossly unequal distribution of wealth in this country that grips this nation. The individuals that were stranded, including women with children and the elderly, were essentially without resources: they had no way of leaving New Orleans and no prospects. They were left crowded together in unimaginably inhumane conditions without being provided the necessities basic to sustain life. There is no way of knowing exactly how many people lost their lives as a direct result of this abandonment, but I would guess that the number is in the thousands.

It is interesting to note that when the tsunami struck Indonesia, American aide, including food and water, arrived within days as compared to the catastrophe spawned by hurricane Katrina where the President delayed leaving his ranch to address the problem. The argument that, “We never expected the levees to fail,” is patently ridiculous. It is a matter of public record that significant funds were cut for the much needed maintenance of this essential protection for the people of New Orleans.

I would like to refer to a number of statements made by the President and his mother that demonstrate so much of what is wrong in this country:

The President: “The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch.”

Barbara Bush: “…and so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this (she chuckled slightly)--this is working very well for them."

These unscripted comments demonstrate the degree to which democracy has been subverted in this country. We are now lead by an essentially unproductive and affluent class that understands little and cares less about the real plight and suffering endured by so many of America’s citizens. These statements clearly show the callous indifference and lack of compassion of those who pretend to govern. They also reveal the kind of attitudes that make the unconscionable aggression against the people of Iraq possible.

In my estimation, the current leadership reflects the kind of sickness that pervades our society. The first and most important step towards national healing would be the recognition of what is essentially wrong. Until, this fundamental problem is addressed, we can only sink deeper into the mire.

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