New Orleans and the Tsunami that Stayed
The Storm After the Storm [New York Times]
David Brooks’s Op-Ed takes a look back at storms-of-the-century gone by, noting that the devastation wrought also served to expose underlying structural inequalities in race and class. The shock at the devastation gives way to outrage and recrimination.
Amid all the stories that recur with every disaster - tales of sudden death and miraculous survival, the displacement and the disease - there is also the testing.
Civic arrangements work or they fail. Leaders are found worthy or wanting. What's happening in New Orleans and Mississippi today is a human tragedy. But take a close look at the people you see wandering, devastated, around New Orleans: they're predominantly black and poor. The political disturbances are still to come.
A separate NYT Editorial "Waiting for a Leader," attempts to place the president’s response in context, noting that for the most part, Mr. Bush had weathered the dog-days of August attempting to capitalize on WWII Anniversaries to rally patriotic support for his flagging military operations in Iraq. True, Mr. Bush has more than once shown firm resolve amidst a maelstrom, but in a strange way, this time may be a different case of one's chickens coming home to roost. After all, “since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.”
Some are wondering too where the global support is for the U.S. But should we be so surprised that our “Go it Alone” persona makes it hard to offer us support and our indisputable economic domination makes it hard to offer us aid? Keep in mind that U.S. trade sanctions levied on those same countries affected by the Dec. '04 tsunami more than tripled the aid we gave to the victims. Our attempts to invoke homeland security measures may complicate the fly-zone and stifle inbound traffic of foreign aid (as Canadian efforts to help us early on learned). And though Pat Robertson's zealous gaffe for the Christian Right may want to see the demise of Chavez, the government of Venezuela, the 5th top exporter of oil, offered monetary and fuel support to the U.S., its #1 customer.