September 02, 2005

Katrina: CBC, Jackson, MSM start 'Blame Bush' game

Blaming President Bush and his administration for the inadequate response to the disaster of Biblical proportions facing New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was the sport of the day today.

Commentators on MSNBC, CNN and elsewhere in the mainstream media hammered home their collective point: "Isn't it important that these people are poor and black? Is that why the response has been inadequate?"

Jesse Jackson, at a press conference in Baton Rouge, continued the refrain.

Racism is partly to blame for the deadly aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said, calling President Bush's response to the disaster "incompetent."

Jackson questioned why Bush has not named blacks to top positions in the federal response to the disaster, particularly when the majority of victims remaining stranded in New Orleans are black: "How can blacks be locked out of the leadership, and trapped in the suffering?"

"It is that lack of sensitivity and compassion that represents a kind of incompetence."

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, head of the military task force overseeing operations in the three states, is black. His task force is providing search and rescue, medical help and sending supplies to the three states in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

I guess Jackson missed that memo; otherwise, General Honore isn't the right kind of black person in Jackson's eyes.

Jackson's presser was followed by one by the Congressional Black Caucus, where they, too blamed Bush. CBC head Elijah Cummings (D-MD) led the charge by quoting from the Bible in order to chastise Bush.

He quoted a passage from the New Testament in which Jesus said, “Whatever you did to the least of these brothers of mine, you did to me.” Cummings concluded, “To the president of the United States, I simply say: God can not be pleased with our response.”

“If they president doesn’t have people competent to do the job, he needs to get rid of them, and put somebody else in who can do the job,” Cummings said.

Other members of the Caucus were equally critical.
"It looks dysfunctional to me right now," said Rep. Diane Watson, D-California.

She and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, along with members of the Black Leadership Forum, National Conference of State Legislators, National Urban League and the NAACP, held a news conference and charged that the response was slow because those most affected are poor.

There will be plenty of time for playing 'Monday Morning Quarterback,' and there is plenty of blame to go around -- to people on both sides of the political aisle.

The most important thing right now is saving lives and getting those people's needs taken care of.

Posted by mhking at September 2, 2005 06:17 PM | TrackBack

It will be interesting to look back at this after the urgency has passed and the numbers have been tallied. What will the effect of this politicization be on the fund raising efforts? What will the effects of the constant streaming video of looting & violence be on those who might otherwise rush to the Red Cross with their check books open? What might the aggregate effect be on potential donors when they see repeated clips on the news of people from the projects wading out of the deep water and demanding that the government help the NOW!! - without the slightest hint of a ‘please’ in their voice. What will be the total aid provided by volunteer donors in this event and how will it compare to 9/11?

Please don’t misunderstand my point. In no way am I suggesting that the attitude of some in this horrific tragedy should dictate how much aid is brought forth by everyone in this great nation. I’m simply asking the sociological question.

A person would have to be dense not to have been able to predict that the ‘R’ word would soon rise out of this tragedy. Close to 70% of New Orleans regular population is black and 99% of the victims shown on TV footage are black. How much will the ‘R’ factor influence donations?

Apparently one of the first mistakes made by the local and federal authorities in this instance was to overestimate the civility of many in the affected area. I can’t help but draw comparisons between New Orleans now and Baghdad shortly after the fall of Saddam. The Bush administration was criticized heavily in the early days of the war for not providing enough security personnel quickly enough in Baghdad. The same will be said in this situation. Are the New Orleanians as a group no different than the Iraqis?

Why is such a great (disproportionate??) percentage of the cable news footage focused on New Orleans when the devastation is apparently just as complete in other parts of Louisiana, Mississippi & Alabama?

As the finger pointing has begun in earnest, what about this question? How much of the blame (for the New Orleans crisis) should be put on those who did have the means to flee prior to the storm but chose not to do so? Think about it. I would suspect that the number of people too stubborn or too stupid to leave when the MANDATORY evacuation order was given (before the storm) is in the thousands if not tens of thousands. If those people had left when they ‘coulda/shoulda’ have, they would not be needing rescue now. The few resources available at the start of this crisis could have been more effectively focused on those who didn’t have the means to evacuate. In my book, those people collectively carry as much blame as any one or any group. How many of those people pointing a demanding finger at the cameras fall into that catagory?

Again, please don’t misunderstand my point. Regardless of their prior situations, all those who are now victims of the flood should be provided timely, respectful assistance. But when the fingers start pointing and the jaws start flapping and charges are leveled about the exact manner in which help is being provided by people who are working their butts off to do so, some ought to look inward.

Posted by: Odd Brian at September 2, 2005 07:35 PM

I wonder how it must be for them to wake up everyday and try to figure out how to bring race into any given situation without looking like an ass. At least they can figure half of it out.

Posted by: whtfucover at September 2, 2005 09:30 PM

I've received email from someone I know who used to live in NOLA.

It appears that Jackson followed through and helped evacuate Xavier college students.

Posted by: DarkStar at September 4, 2005 07:44 PM

Posted by: DarkStar at September 5, 2005 12:05 PM
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