Friday, September 02, 2005

The Katrina Blame Game

The situation with Hurricane Katrina is certainly one of the worst in US history. New Orleans has been tempting fate for decades, being situated in about as vulnerable a location as anywhere else. After the hurricane passed over the city and the levees broke, it seemed like the city would band together like New York did in the aftermath of September 11 or like Los Angeles did after the '94 Northwood earthquake or like the San Francisco Bay Area after the '91 quake. Instead, local officials perfected the blame game and roving bands of marauders are busy raping, looting, killing, and burning down the city. In short, nobody is stepping up. The federal government is on its way, and National Guard troops are in place, but with tens of thousands still in the city, it's not an easy job.
Of course, we have stories of how this whole thing is discriminatory. Yes, you heard it first in the NY Times that it's all because New Orleans is poor and black. The reasoning goes that this wouldn't have happened in Florida. What they don't note is that Katrina hit Florida as a Category 1 hurricane - nothing major. It was only in the 24 or so hours before it hit the city that the threat became apparent. Nevertheless, it's all about race.
It's all about global warming too. Yup, Katrina was caused by global warming. I don't know what caused Hurricane Camille in 1969 (a more powerful storm than Katrina), but the real reason for this is global warming. Never mind that El Nino played a part in this hurricane season, in addition to general hurricane trends and so forth.
The war in Iraq also caused this. "We can secure Baghdad, but not New Orleans" is the rallying cry I've heard, and the only good thing about this is that it's giving the Iraqis a rest from the 24 hour news cycle that reports on every little thing that goes wrong there.
Instead of blaming people for what did happen, let's focus our efforts on what we can do to help. Give money to the Red Cross or to one of the myriad organizations that are making a difference and put aside the petty carping. Chuck Rangel, Ray Nagin, Paul Krugman - I'm talking to you.