Saturday, September 10, 2005

It's Jim Crow All Over Again

Political events in Louisiana have people reading Robert Penn Warren's classic "All The Kings Men." My copy is hiding in one of boxes in storage. This book provides a great deal of insight in political machines.

I suspect that we will find political failures from start to finish in the New Orleans calamity. I can't help but wander to what extent the levees were used in games of political intrigue.

Last night, I watched a talking head on the news. One of the talking heads brought up the observation that New Orleans was 67% black, while many of the outlying towns hit by Katrina were majority white. George W. Bush got the water out of the these white towns, but let the water stay in New Orleans. Clearly, the US has not changed an iota since the days of Jim Crow.

Looking at the 2004 election map. New Oreans is the only island of blue in a sea of red. New Orleans voted 78% to 22% in favor of Kerry. Dagnabbit, these results make it clear why Bush filled New Orleans with water while Bush cleared waters out of other hurricane effect towns.

The gravity of it all is suspect.

There actually are many good complaints about the response to Katrina. Apparently groups like Fox News showed black looters and white rescuers. A "balanced" news agency would be going out of its way to show a more acceptable mix of white looters and black rescuers. News has many, many, many biases.

FEMA and rescuers did an okay job responding to a hurricane. They failed miserably responding to the flood.

Rescue efforts go well in small towns where the rescuers really dominate during the rescue. They fail in a climate of big city with big city political machines, big city press and big city politicians with big egos.

The one thing I really don't like is that the press applauded politicians who simply live on action and reaction, and belittled those who stepped back and took time to deliberate before action. Diliberation looks like inaction...however I think it is the most valuable of all action. VIPs that know when to step back are often more effective than those that immediately jump into the fray.

Anyway, I suspect that this interplay of different leadership styles, political motives and personalities that Katrina brought to light will generate a great deal of intriguing stories and music. While the human suffering is tragic, the colorful personalities of the area might add to the great literature of the south.

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