Saturday, September 03, 2005

"Let's do something and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country"

But thousands of people are feared dead and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said he was furious at the lack of help his historic city had received.

"I need reinforcements. I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man," he said in a radio interview. "Now get off your asses and fix this. Let's do something and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country."

- Reuters

When this is all said and done, Ray Nagin will be remembered as the man who watched the Big Easy collapse. He and the other elected representatives from Louisiana have every right to be angry. Louisianans have every right to be angry.

And this morning, I'm so fucking embarrassed to call myself an American.

I can't sleep I'm so angry. I haven't eaten much in the last two days I'm so angry.

There are now gangs raping and pillaging across New Orleans. I've gotten reports -- rumors from the refugee camps in Baton Rouge (lets quit using goddamned euphemisms at this point - evacuees seems to imply that the American public somehow cares enough about its own people to do something) -- that there's break-ins, locals exploiting their guests, people being asked to stay indoors after dark, and underequipped recovery workers screaming everywhere for help from everywhere.

And I'm wondering who's listening?

Every day, an American state falls deeper into a heart of darkness, deeper into something more similar to to Mogadeshu, Baghdad, Darfur. There is talk of dyptheria, malaria, cholera outbreaks.

Certainly not the majority of Americans, I'm starting to believe.

Here in Oxford, I've heard more "Oh, that's too bad"s and "wish I could help, but..."s coming from people's mouths lately that I'm starting to prefer hearing nothing at all. The only sincere expressions of concern I've heard recently have, well, come from my colleagues. I had a woman from another department swing by and ask how I was doing. I told her, well, that I was just glad to be alive.

I've even heard guys make jokes about the whole thing - "No more Girls Gone Wild Videos, huh?" and "Cell Phones? They can't read in Louisiana, why would they have cell phones?"

The last joke, by the way, came from a skinny-ass mop-topped kid in some real fine designer duds. If he'd been a little older, and I was in the mindset I had when I was younger, I would've easily whooped the Abercrombie & Fitch out of him in front of his girlfriend.

Instead, I simply walked it off, reminding myself of the old rule of turning the other cheek - it is better to walk the road of peace and to swing by a church and ask for the strength to walk a righteous path than to accept the shallowness of violence.

I realized tonight that I'm not the only one angry with the way the U.S. has responded, the sheer apathy and rag-tag recovery efforts that are a result of a decade's worth of being a generally self-absorbed, materialistic, and gluttonous nation.

When this is all said and done, Ray Nagin won't be remembered as the man who watched the Big Easy collapse or stood by while the Gulf Coast bloated like a corpse in the South's steamy September.

If things don't improve, the only persons responsible for a state's brutal collapse...will be us.

All of us.

Failure to act is the worst form of cowardice.

God help us all.



Smurf said...

I totally agree J. I dont watch tv or listen to much radio.. so besides what i heard from you... I had no clue what was going on until yesterday.. bodies just being covered up, bodies floating in the water with sewage lines broken and backed up.. oil spill... brother shooting sister over taking a drink of his water bottle, ppl shooting at the helicopters and ambulances coming to help... omg, omg, omg.. this is CRAZY.. SAD...HORRIBLE... omg. Is it true that Bush refused money from certain countries offering assistance?!? OMG!!! J, I am so sorry.. you lived there for quite a while... I can't even imagine how real and devasting this is to you.. it is to me, but I have never been there first hand, so I know even though I am sad and frusterated and scared... it can't be anything compared to you!

I love you. (Still haven't gotten word from my uncle.. no word if he, his wife or their kids are safe or alive.... still praying about this whole tragedy!) Thanks for the updates!

Blessings and hugs,

Smurf said...

J!!! I didn't know it was the lake that caused the flooding in NEW ORLEANS!!! My uncle lived right next to the lake. :(

zydeco fish said...

I am amazed that there are people making jokes. No one made jokes after 9/11, at least I didn't know of any. I find that to be very disturbing. Who are these people?

Smurf said...

Jason...My dad got hold of Russ and he is ok. Suzi's daughter and friend are staying with Russ, he went back to his house and had some one do roof repairs,so he will still be able to sell house when power is restored. (He was in the middle of moving from LA to FL.) Just thought I would tell you.


Smurf said...

Also, sorry I was SOOOO out of it when you called. I have been on brain and emotional overload. Please forgive me! ;) Thanks again for calling. I appreciate it! It was also fun to hear the voices you do I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy just sitting and listening to you sing, talk, impersonate or tell stories! Love ya, Shirley

G said...

Worst form of cowardice ... or of incompetence?

I maintain: had this been a terrorist attack that took out the levees, we'd be seeing a whole different level of support.

But a natural disaster? If it's not terror, it's as if the admin just doesn't care.

Kara said...

You are the first person I thought about when I heard...I hope your family is okay and I admire all that you are doing. As for all ingnorant peeps here at MU that talk about things that they don't understand, well, I feel sorry for them! Attending classes with them is bad enough, but being subjected to their self centered bubbles is even harder when one works so hard to serve them. You, your family, and all people suffering from this disaster have been and will continue to be in my prayers. I am sorry for the delayed response...Unfortunately, I also get stuck in my own bubble sometimes. In fact, I didn't even realize what happened until Friday night....anyway, again, I am sorry. If you need someone to listen (anytime) have my digits. Please take care of yourself, and God Bless!

Smurf said...

HOw are things on the home front? Hope things are well.

Luv ya,

Anonymous said...

zydeco fish said...
I am amazed that there are people making jokes. No one made jokes after 9/11, at least I didn't know of any. I find that to be very disturbing. Who are these people?

Miami students. My guess, at least. Heard a couple of idiots make jokes here myself.

-A senior.