The color of tragedy

This article from The Independent paints a frightening picture of the state of New Orleans -- it also makes the point about race/poverty I made in an earlier post, but in far more powerful terms:

The prospect of an ugly, elemental battle for survival in New Orleans was made worse by the fact that even before Hurricane Katrina it was the poorest urban area in the United States. The ghastly spectacle of overwhelmingly black residents caged in an unsanitary sports stadium and left almost entirely to their own devices could not but evoke memories of the darkest days of segregation and overtly racist Jim Crow laws in the American South. The potential for racial conflict has been quietly side-stepped in much of the US media coverage to date, but it is also impossible to ignore. ...
The prospect of a major societal breakdown was not restricted to the disaster area. As the first evacuees were welcomed to their new temporary home, the Astrodome in Houston, officials felt obliged to deny that the dispossessed were being held in prison-like conditions. The Astrodome was "not a jail", the chief executive of Harris County, which encompasses Houston, insisted at a news conference.
Officials from President Bush down to Marc Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans, said the impact of Katrina was worse than that of the 11 September attacks on New York, and so required an even more energetic response. "So many of the people who did not evacuate could not evacuate, for whatever reason," said Mr Morial. "They are people who are African-American, mostly but not completely, and people who were of little or limited economic means. They are the folks, we've got to get them out of there." [LINK]
P.S. Here's a highly offensive Peggy Noonan column in the Wall Street Journal where she not only rants at length about the "tragic piggism" of the folks who are "stealing flat screen TVs and jewelry, guns and CD players," but also hopes they will be shot. It's one thing for bloggers to carry on in this fashion, but this is a well-respected GOP consultant writing in one of the nation's leading newspapers.

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