This week, I’ve watched hurricane coverage. Too much coverage, I suspect, for how many times do I want to see a desolate convention center, or a floating casino three hundred feet inland, or suffering people? New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, and the smaller less known towns of Mississippi effectively do not exist, when two weeks ago they were fully functioning. Like Speaker Hastert, I wonder about the brilliance of building a medium-sized city below sea level, surrounded by three bodies of water. Yet this is not the time to consider rebuilding; it’s a time of survival. It’s not even a time to consider reasons, even though this quote is telling, from the Washington Post: “God’s angry with New Orleans. It’s an evil city. The worst school system anywhere. Rampant crime. Corrupt politicians.”
The speaker of this quote is black, and struggling down there. Is it true, that as Kanye West suggested, things would be different if more trapped people were white? Or rich? Have you seen a white person in the convention center? The FEMA director said those who “chose not to leave” needed help. For those with no car, or not enough money to stay away for two months, the choice was quite forced. Where was the evacuation assistance? Where could they go? There are lots of links about disorganization. That’s frustrating, particularly since organization is one of my strengths, but not what I’m thinking about.
More immediate are the concerns about lawlessness. The term post-apocalyptic is very common in science fiction and role playing. I won’t say I never thought this could happen. After all, I’ve read many accounts and even written a little<. When applying for the Ph. D., my statement referred to a talk I heard on analyzing records to estimate the number of people murdered by a Central American government. I called the movie Hotel Rwanda too kind, for I at least vaguely remember the actual reports. There are other tales. Further, sometimes I've heard the White Man's Burden, "But not in America", when we read reports of tsunami victims or Haitian hurricane refugees. Between the stories of looting and armed gangs and gunfire, any confidence we had is shattered. I didn't expect it, but that may be the gravest lesson of this hurricane, that our natures are easily broken and fallen. I would not be surprised if the conservatives of Hate Radio started up about the "people", with subtle reminders of my last paragraph. It's too hard a lesson to learn, and there's still dissonance, when there should be shame. This BBC article, not biased with patriotism, asks the long question. It’s not a question for now, as immediate needs should come first. Maybe, though, the violence of the hurricane will force America to consider that question.
Hurricane Katrina, such a quiet name, dealt such violence. Interestingly, that’s what “Violence” means, according to my Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary: “swift and intense force; the violence of a storm.” The most common definition, physical force, appears second. That makes it easier for me to say that I am a violent man, for I am.