padraig at well.com
Sun Sep 4 12:37:21 EDT 2005
I heard heard a gentleman on NPR the other day, I think he was out of
Georgetown or Harvard, describe from a sociological aspect what to
expect to see in New Orleans directly after the flood. His case was
that most people were tired and frustrated and peacefully going
around seeking food and shelter. Another group was demonstrating that
frustration through gathering food from sources, including taking
things from the shelves of stores. A third group contained the
element referred to below. In his discussion, he said that we should
not be responding to the behavior of looting and crime only from a
violent perspective, but to ask the questions about why people are in
such a situation that they are promoting crime and corruption.
In the same way we need to ask why another human is so devoted to a
cause as to be a suicide bomb--and seek to remedy the conditions that
cause this--we need also to seek remedies for the people who have
created the atmosphere in NO as described below. To paraphrase Girard
from another thread here: we need to define and remove mimetic desire
and replace it with something that values human life. As Percry would
indicate, we need to stop the repetition and rotate toward grace.
There can be no us and them now, only US.
On Sep 4, 2005, at 1:03 AM, Wade Riddick wrote:
>> I am at a bit of a loss about all the ranting and raving about the
>> Federal Government's response to this huge disaster. As a member
>> of local government and the super of the water treatment plant and
>> the wastewater treatment plant (albeit in a very small town), I am
>> at a loss as to where the City of New Orleans' emergency response
>> plan was?
> You really have no idea about the horrendously vast scope of what
> has happened here. About a million people have been displaced in
> an area the size of Britain. Tens of thousands may be dead. The
> individuals who survived are mostly unemployed and homeless in an
> already poor area of America. I've watched my home town about
> double in size in a week. That's a lot of damn people straining
> limited resources. There's also only so much the city of New
> Orleans can do when it's the Feds funding (or not funding as they
> haven't done over the last five years) the Army Corps of Engineers
> and the whole levee system. That whole system is not under local
> control. A lot of the national guard's best equipment is in Iraq
> along with a lot of local guardsmen who know the area well. We've
> got strangers wandering around in a city many of the have never
> even visited. The response by FEMA down here has been truly
> pitiful. We haven't even gotten people out to St. Bernard yet.
> They won't give us money to upgrade the levees and shore up the
> coastline from erosion** despite the pleading of Republicans and
> Democrats alike in the state delegation but Washington will work on
> an estate tax break that only benefits maybe a hundred thousand
> already rich families. Condoleeza Rice was shopping for $1500
> shoes on Thursday until she got accosted by someone in a shoe store
> about it. Cheney didn't cancel any of his fundraisers. These
> people are out of touch.
> And this isn't a black vs. white issue. What we haven't yet
> discussed here is what Nagin alluded to on Thursday when he pleaded
> for help on a radio interview: drugs and corruption. There's a
> reason some of those 9th ward residents might want to shoot at
> police. A few cops have been working for drug dealers over the
> years murdering witnesses to various crimes. Cleaning up the
> department has not been going well. There are also a lot of 9th
> ward addicts going into withdrawal and shooting at those decent
> officers who have remained on the job. Those are tough
> circumstances for anybody. It's like what you see with the drugged
> out militias in Haiti, Somalia or Beruit - a complete dissolution
> of civil society. Does anybody want to have a real war on
> addiction in this country? No. That might cut into our
> narcissistic pursuit of gambling, drugs, hookers, sugar, booze,
> shopping - you name it, we've got a different flavor to feed the
> beast of endless sensation. The money laundering from some of
> these more illegal activities has really decimated the competence
> of some government officials and dispirited the rest of them. The
> press just wants to ignore all this and pat each other on the back
> in their talk shows where they interview other millionaire
> reporters to find out what's going on in the real world. Fame,
> shame, profit, pity, celebrity and *feeling* good have replaced
> Christian notions of guilt, compassion, grace and *doing* good.
> (Percy used to ask why we can feel so wrong when things are so good
> and yet feel so good when things really are so wrong.)
> It hasn't helped having comments from Fox News about people
> deserving this suffering because they were too stubborn to leave
> before the storm. Most were sick and couldn't leave or didn't have
> cars and money to leave. Where is the city supposed to find on its
> own the money for buses, shelters, food and water for 100,000
> people? To say the least, having Hastert say what he did when
> relief was nowhere to be seen really ticked off a lot of people and
> gave us the impression the country's largely silent leadership had
> given up on us and didn't care. Hastert is really slitting his own
> throat by suggesting we bulldoze New Orleans. We refine his gas
> and handle a huge chunk of imports and exporting going into and out
> of Illinois - yet he's too stupid to know how much midwestern grain
> is rotting because it can't get to market. He doesn't even show up
> for the vote on the first appropriations bill. It also doesn't
> help having Billy Graham's son pulling another Pat Robertson.
> The poor have always been disproportionately affected by lack of
> education, crime, corruption and illness. The rich have resources
> to fall back on; these people you're seeing on TV don't have
> those. They've lost what little they had. And let me tell you
> about your news coverage. I've talked to people who have come out
> of there or who are working in government. The situation in New
> Orleans is a lot more desperate and violent than widely reported
> and the problems dealing with Washington are really horrendous -
> but if you're working in local government, how much are you going
> to bite the hand you want to feed you right now?
> I have been largely silent about the pinheaded Pharisees and
> political autistics running this country for the last five years
> because I have had to contend with the onerous task of just staying
> alive myself. This isn't a president who believes in social
> security with the little s's. He couldn't provide it in Iraq and
> he can't do it here because he needs to pay for his tax cuts. He's
> fired or run off anybody who's given him good advice on the topic.
> Go take a look at how FEMA director Brown did in his last job.
> And, yeah, there are plenty of crooks in Louisiana too. It's not
> just Washington - but, boy, if Louisiana is your standard for good
> government then God help us all. You people in North Carolina
> should be terrified that Republicans in Washington have succeeded
> in making local government down here look like a bunch of brain
> surgeons. I never thought I would live to see government become
> something I would have to protect myself against on this scale.
> On a personal note as a landowner in Baton Rouge, I can't help
> feeling a little like Lex Luthor in that Superman movie when he
> tries to blow up California to turn his desert property into prime
> beach front real estate.
> If I get the time, I'll try to write a more thoughtful response to
> the non-secular elements of this tragedy.
> ** Coastal erosion is another reason Katrina was worse than
> previous storms and it's the usual mess of collective goods
> problems that a single state can't solve. It's not like the
> intercoastal waterway which contributed to the erosion was a state
> project or that Louisiana taxpayers built the levees in Missouri
> which have lowered the amount of silt coming down the Mississippi.
> Various acts also limit exactly what local government can do with
> flood control on their own and hand the task over to the feds.
> An archive of all list discussion is available at http://
> Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy
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