12.12.2005

call it murder

I rarely read newspaper editorials (as opposed to columnists or Op-Ed pieces), but Common Dreams picked up this piece from the New York Times. Remember Katrina?
Death of an American City

We are about to lose New Orleans. Whether it is a conscious plan to let the city rot until no one is willing to move back or honest paralysis over difficult questions, the moment is upon us when a major American city will die, leaving nothing but a few shells for tourists to visit like a museum.

We said this wouldn't happen. President Bush said it wouldn't happen. He stood in Jackson Square and said, "There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans." But it has been over three months since Hurricane Katrina struck and the city is in complete shambles.

There are many unanswered questions that will take years to work out, but one is make-or-break and needs to be dealt with immediately. It all boils down to the levee system. People will clear garbage, live in tents, work their fingers to the bone to reclaim homes and lives, but not if they don't believe they will be protected by more than patches to the same old system that failed during the deadly storm. Homeowners, businesses and insurance companies all need a commitment before they will stake their futures on the city.

At this moment the reconstruction is a rudderless ship. There is no effective leadership that we can identify. How many people could even name the president's liaison for the reconstruction effort, Donald Powell? Lawmakers need to understand that for New Orleans the words "pending in Congress" are a death warrant requiring no signature.

. . . .

If the rest of the nation has decided it is too expensive to give the people of New Orleans a chance at renewal, we have to tell them so. We must tell them we spent our rainy-day fund on a costly stalemate in Iraq, that we gave it away in tax cuts for wealthy families and shareholders. We must tell them America is too broke and too weak to rebuild one of its great cities.

Our nation would then look like a feeble giant indeed. But whether we admit it or not, this is our choice to make. We decide whether New Orleans lives or dies. [Read the piece here or here.]
Redsock blogged about another disaster relief effort that never happened. While you're over there, here are a few other horrifying thoughts: on chemical weapons and the exit strategy (or not). Ask me again why I left?

9 comments:

James said...

The amazing thing to me is that, apart from those immediately affected by this travesty (or any number of others), no-one seems to notice that this is happening. Out of sight, out of mind, and people are working hard to keep it out of sight.

L-girl said...

no-one seems to notice that this is happening.

Yes. It looks like the amnesia that started during the Reagan years is now complete.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Speaking of murder...

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

A little more on the above...

L-girl said...

Thanks Kyle. I'll post that later or tomorrow, for folks who don't read comments.

James said...

Yes. It looks like the amnesia that started during the Reagan years is now complete.

And it's not just "amnesia": it seems to be a near-instantaneous "put it out of mind" approach to problems. Which fits perfectly with Bush as a President -- something's not going right? Pretend it doesn't exist!

redsock said...

yet more on the murder in miami

Liam J said...

Ironically, this might actually help. Imagine if they don't fix the levies and New Orleans is flooded again next year right before the mid-terms.......

teflonjedi said...

As some of may you know, this hits pretty close to home for me. My fiancee is one of the Katrina refugees, better off than most because she's been able to go to a good law school (Berkeley, many many thanks to them for looking after her so well!) this term, was able to get out with some belongings before the storm hit, and has had a good support system to look after her this past term.

Tulane is forcing her to return for the next term, in January, if she wishes to graduate this coming May. She's lucked out again, as her apartment is in good shape, relative to many of the horror stories she's heard from classmates who are forced to relocate due to mold, flooding damage, or wind damage.

My fiancee's worried about what awaits her. She doesn't have a car, and she's heard the streetcars aren't running; are the buses? Only a few local grocery stores are open, and she's heard that supplies are in high demand, and that there are long lines. There's good reason to doubt that the streets are properly cleaned, that things she might casually touch are cleaned...normally, allergies would be the biggest of her concerns down there right now.

Back in the fall, we had kind of hoped that Rita or Wilma would come along and put the city out of its misery. We feared this slow, lingering decline we're now likely to see.

She's looking forward to getting back out of NOLA in May, as soon as possible.