I should be feeling better--after all, Obama did commemorate Katrina and the flood in his radio address this morning. To his credit he also brought up levees and coastal restoration. But only time will tell if these words will be backed up by action or be mere empty words.
I have been upset and feel as if I'm almost physically ill. I cannot help but flash back, see the scenes of rescues and of the afflicted at the Superdome and the Convention Center and think of how so many suffered during Katrina and the federal flood and are still suffering. And I can't help but wonder if Obama really cares about New Orleans. Because when I remember what happened during the flood and Katrina which turned the lives of so many upside down and think about the fact that Obama won't be going there (which he wasn't going to do anyway even if Ted Kennedy hadn't passed) I'm depressed.
And others are also turned off by the fact that Obama has paid so little attention to Louisiana and her problems and those of her neighbors in the Gulf Region--a wound which Obama's absence from Katrina observances has rubbed salt into. More below the fold...
Racism, in reality, is fear of the unknown. It is apprehension for what is alien to us. A bigot is often one who claims to be colorblind. However, indeed, he or she is more likely colormute. Rarely do persons who think themselves tolerant speak of the scorn they feel for those who differ from them. Often the intolerant are not aware of the rigidity that rules their lives. Few amongst Anglos in America, since most appear as they do, consider what the life of one whose complexion is cause for rejection. However, in an exposé, A.C. Thompson muses of what most rather not mention. The author addresses "Katrina's Hidden Race War."
(NOTE: This diary was originally posted on Daily Kos by azureblue, a musician who got his start in New Orleans. Per a request he made to readers in a comment under that diary, I am crossposting it here--because he and I feel this is an idea that needs as much attention and exposure as possible so hopefully Obama will pick up on it.)
The title says it all, but this grew out of a discussion last night about Obama's love for jazz, and the possibility of him having jazz players at the inauguration:
McCain spent Thursday in New Orleans as part of his hard times tour. In a Lower Ninth Ward speech, he criticized the way Bush and the Bush administration handled the storm and its initial aftermath.
"Never again, never again, will a disaster of this nature be handled in the disgraceful way it was handled," McCain declared... McCain was unsparing in his criticism of the Bush administration on Katrina, and said members of Congress must share some of the blame for putting money into pork-barrel projects when those dollars should have been used to fortify the region against disaster. He said his record was clean on that count, with a consistent opposition to wasteful spending.
Without mentioning Mr. Bush directly, McCain said that when Katrina struck, "If I had been president, I would have ordered the plane landed at the nearest base and I'd of been over here." He repeated that later, saying, "I would've landed my airplane at the nearest Air Force base and come over personally." McCain said the missteps of the Bush administration were well chronicled and undisputed, citing unqualified leaders, poor communication and a failure to recognize the dimensions of the problem.
Sounds, good right? Learning from past mistakes is huge; it helps us prevent future disasters. There's not enough proactive forward-leaning thinking in this country, so what's the problem? Isn't McCain's stance a good thing?
Well, his understanding of the past, yes. But his plans and vision for the future... not so much.
He also told reporters he was not sure if he would rebuild the lower 9th ward as president. "That is why we need to go back is to have a conversation about what to do -rebuild it, tear it down, you know, whatever it is," he said.
There is so much wrong with this statement, I'm not seven sure where to begin. I guess we'll start with "have a conversation." Senator - WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? The storm was almost three years ago!!! Do you think the citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi have been sitting around strumming their Gibsons, swilling their Abita? HAVE a conversation? We've BEEN having one for three years! Heck, even the Road Home housing grant program is pretty much wrapped up! Don't believe me, go sit in on a Housing Committee hearing! Talk to your colleague Mary Landrieu, she's on top of things!
There's more: "Tear it down?" That's downright un-American, we have private property rights! If the levees had been built to specification and properly maintained, and had the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet never been built (and we can close it), the Lower Ninth Ward would not have flooded. If people want to keep the land or house framework their family has owned for 70 years, who are you to stop them? Change the rules going into the future - take the proper precautions this time, mandate flood insurance, and tell folks there will be no government assistance the next time so that they've been warned - but don't step on private property rights.
Yet the worst thing McCain said, I think, are those last five words: "You know, whatever it is." It's been three years, have you really paid that little attention? Ok, ok, stupid question, but how can you be so oblivious to think that your audience - IN NEW ORLEANS - is equally oblivious?
You mean we've not had enough conversations already? The McCain administration is going to hit the ground talking? At least we now know what to expect. More canned civic engagement while the city moulders.
Basically, he doesn't know what to do. The Lower 9th Ward will be rebuilt, because it is some of the highest, driest land in the city. The levee walls failed in such a way as to flood the Lower 9th Ward, but had the levees failed on the other side, the Faubourg Marigny would have got it just as bad. People don't understand that the Lower 9th Ward is not low ground. It is high ground and prime real estate.
The question is whether the pre-flood inhabitants of the Lower 9th Ward are going to come back to their home, or if that land is going to be packaged and sold for redevelopment. The reclamation of the Lower 9th Ward by it's inhabitants is looking increasingly less likely with the glacial pace of recovery in this neighborhood that the media has made iconic.
NBC's First Read reports that the Lower Ninth tour and press conference where he made these remarks was disorganized and chaotic, and may have missed the mark: "Several local residents complained there were no seats for hurricane survivors outside the church and no time carved out in McCain's schedule for meetings with Ninth Ward residents." McCain's not one for meaningless photo ops, but campaigns have a way of changing people... or at least, of giving empty, black-hearted campaign aides and strategists too much power. The New York Times adds,
At least one citizen was disturbed by all the media attention, particularly by the lack of seats for local citizens at Mr. McCain's 20-minute news conference. "We need to have an opportunity to have a meaningful dialogue,'' said Mary Fontenot, who is with All Congregations Together, a church group working to rebuilding New Orleans. "Twenty minutes out on the lawn does not suffice, with a designated seating for traveling journalists."