Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Thoughts from the Safety of My Home

Wow, so I am blown away by the Katrina coverage. I've been watching every day, and it just gets worse and worse, and I keep feeling I should do something. Yes, I'm going to purchase some needed items and donate them through Jay's work. But that just doesn't seem like enough. To quote Casablanca, paraphrased, my problems don't amount to a hill of beans compared to those of the survivors.

It has been made clear in the last day or two that they are hurt and resentful at being called "refugees," understandably so. They live here, they are not seeking refuge from another country. They are survivors.

This is America - things like this don't happen here. I mean things like looting and raping of children and people left to die in filth beyond the comprehension of most all of us, people who have nothing and know nothing and are hopeless and helpless. I have been hearing lots of people saying, would this have happened if the hurricane had hit in an affluent, predominately white area? I must confess I seriously doubt it. It seems to me that race and class have played a part here, though most of us don't want to acknowledge that, most importantly our government. On Oprah today, she was touring New Orleans and talking to the Chief of Police and the Mayor. The Chief was almost unable to speak while telling Oprah about small children who were being raped and even killed inside the Superdome, and telling her of one of his officers whom he had convinced to take a day off and who had gone home and killed himself. The Mayor is angry - many of you have probably seen or heard him on the news. Angry with the righteous anger on behalf of the people under his jurisdiction whom he is helpless to aid. I saw and heard stories on this Oprah episode that made me cry like none I've heard on network TV. Lisa Ling was walking the streets with a camera crew and came across a family just walking around hoping to find a place to sleep for the night. Dr. Oz, a regular Oprah guest, was at the airport trying to help ill people and also talking about the huge problem with dead bodies and why they pose such a health threat. He came upon a young woman on the side of the highway who was already getting bloated. He covered her with a shirt he found nearby because there was nothing else he could do to give her a bit of dignity.

Almost all of these people are black - 2/3 of the population of New Orleans is black, and a great number of them are poor and had no means to leave the city. I'm so tired of all the rhetoric on TV about blame, where the buck stops, etc. These people are dying, homeless, and separated from their families. I have been proud, though, to read that Texas has been praised for it's quick and efficient response, taking in over 200,000 people, though as the majority of the survivors are coming to Texas, at least first, our resources are quickly reaching their limits.

I am finding that this is more painful to watch than the 9-11 coverage. There, people were reaching out to help each other, not killing each other. These are are fellow Americans, not victims of terror, but now increasingly victims of other fellow Americans. This shakes me to my core. I feel it is just a taste of what could come, someday, in our country. We are only one disaster away from this very experience ourselves. I urge anyone who reads this to find a way to do something to help. Sorry for such a downer of an entry, but this is what's on my mind right now.

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