Friday, September 02, 2005

Twice Told Tales

In the follow up to the tragic effect of hurricane Katrina much of the press has been serving their noble duty of showing the world what is going on. These dramatic reports have caused the nation to seek ways to help in large and small ways. They've also called the nation's emergency response system to account for delays in answering the call.

Along with this responsible journalism we are treated increasingly to what one blogger calls America's 'armchair first responders'. Those are the reporters who's contribution is in finding and assigning blame.

The default position in most newspapers is that racial relations in the country have changed little in the last 50 years. So anyone claiming nefarious motives is given instant respectability. One of the current messages being diseminated is that a large black population was left adrift in New Orleans because of racist attitudes. Because someone is poor and black it's always assumed that they're victims of opression. Seldom are we asked to consider the inverse--that their poverty is the result of individual behavior.

Mayor Ray Nagin is himself black. Although he pleaded with citizens to leave, he too is playing the blame game in order to deflect criticism about his performance. New Orleans could have deployed an idled fleet of city school buses to remove people from the city. Instead he points elsewhere. Sending people to shelter in the Superdome seemed like a good idea at the time. In retrospect it was a disaster. So what does he do? Blames people who didn't make his decision.

Concurrently with levee breaks came the acusations that this was the inevitable result of decisions by Congress and the president to cut levee enhancement projects. Responsible news accounts said that these projects would not have been completed nor would they have made much difference in a category 4 hurricane. Irresponsible media let the lie stand.

Responsible media challenged the notion that global warming has had any effect on hurricane frequency. Irresponsible media let the notion take hold, even going so far as to suggest that signing the Kyoto Protocols equated with an instant solution to warming. Were that the case Bush's recent agreements with China and India to affect potential human contributions to warming surely would have ameliorated such storms.


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10:13 PM  
Blogger Walter E. Wallis said...

When I mention the 11 billion dollar overrun of the Big Dig, I become persona non grata on lib sites. The inability of the left to suggest any solution to any problem, but to lay blame back to original sin on Bush demonstrates just how lucky we were to not have the left in charge.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Millbrae Morty said...

You're right that many newspapers report that many blacks feel that the crowd in New Orleans was left adrift due to their race. However, I'm not sure that newspapers should feel obliged NOT to report what many blacks were feeling. The real issue is that many blacks felt that way, because those who do frequently ascribe racial motives to anything that does not go exactly their way. Sometimes they are right - employers who do not want to hire a black because of their prejudices do not come out and say that unless they are outright idiots, they make up another excuse - and sometimes they are wrong, and are using a reverse prejudice. That is, they reveal anti-white attitudes by ascribing anti-black attitudes to any whites with which they have dealings. So, instead of blaming the media, who are at worst featuring an undue amount of attention on real black complaints, perhaps we should rather blame the racist blacks themselves for their racist attitudes which further divide us. I believe there are nonracist blacks that do not believe the delay was caused by anything worse than bureaucratic bungling. Nagin did an awful job of not deploying the buses; on the other hand, if you were a bus driver, would you want to get your family out of town and keep them together, or would you want to stay around and wait for your bus to fill up with countless people going god knows where and feeling that you are responsible to get them back to the place you drove them from? My guess is that the bus drivers had long left town with their own families and Nagin would have been screwed even if he had executed the Release the Buses order. You also correctly point out that levee enhancements would take over 10 years to build and would not have helped even if started on day one of the Bush Administation. I further agree that hurricane frequency naturally ebbs and flows and existed perhaps before the first campfire was built.

Finally, regardless of what happened, all we can do now is to decide what to do in the future. Since N.O. is uniquely in a bowl, and since the very pumps that get the water out of the soil cause it to dry out and sink further, thereby necessitating more sinking, the logical thing, in my mind, is to abandon N.O. and build it elsewhere. To ask taxpayers to periodically rebuild a city built on the side of a mountain that would notoriously be shattered by avalanches would be lunacy, when the town could be rebuilt further from the mountain. Likewise, to expect taxpayers to foot the bill on rebuilding a city whose very design is destined for ultimate failure is wasteful. To those who argue LA is similarly threatened with earthquakes, I would disagree, in that earthquakes can happen in many places, whereas there is no need to build a city under sea level anywhere.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Smoking Jay said...

Three cheers for Millbrae Morty!! I cannot wait for a complete analysis of this disaster. While there is a lot of blame to go around, I think we will find that the local officials in NO and the state failed to do their jobs and were (and are) incapable of effective decision making in a time of crisis. Also, I wonder how many future terrorists slipped into the country from Mexico and South America under the cover of the confusion. And look how much we have taught them about how we handle a major disaster and where we are vulnerable…

6:44 PM  
Blogger Walter E. Wallis said...

While you are at it, check he court challenges to all work along the Lake Pontchartrain front demanding more comprehensive environmental impact statements before any work could commence. We need to eliminate this "bugs are more important than people" crap.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Smoking Jay said...

My absolute favorite "blame" in this mess is that the Bush administration environmental policies caused the catastrophic climate changes that led to more hurricanes...frankly, I think most of the increased hot air emanates from a certain Senator from MA.

Second favorite is the playing of the race card in a time of national emergency...unbelievable and desperate move by the left -- and it will haunt them for a long time.

Third is total lack of self-sufficiency by the people and leaders of NO. Everyone in earthquake country is coached to have enough food and supplies on hand to make it through 3 to 7 days without any help.

Finally, the total lack of understanding of how a federal republic works and why the states control the National Guard and the Federal Military can only get involved by invitation (and the Governor of LA dithered) unless there is an insurrection -- and there was no insurrection. For Bush to have sent in troops without local request would be a direct violation of the Constitution....

12:52 PM  

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