I’ve been spending a good part of this week on The Map Room, posting links to maps and satellite photos of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. While my focus has been on the view from the sky, it’s the reports from the ground that disturb me. From all accounts, New Orleans has descended into anarchy; the wide-scale suffering beggars belief and fills me with fury. More so when bureaucrats and politicians seemed utterly unaware of the problem and completely tone-deaf to compassion. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s anger and frustration is all too evident in this radio interview (3.2 MB MP3), and all too understandable; you simply must listen to it (via MetaFilter).
It angers me that the U.S. has done such a piss-poor job of handling a city-wide disaster; how would this have been any different if terrorists had set off a small nuclear bomb? It angers me that “homeland security” has more to do with token security measures at airports, the systematic stripping away of civil liberties, and generating a politically useful climate of fear than it does with disaster readiness. It angers me that the reason, I suspect, that so little was done for people on the ground on New Orleans was because they’re mainly poor and black. And it angers me that arrogant twerps — from the Speaker of the House on down — have been blaming the residents for living where they do. (As though other places aren’t vulnerable to disasters.) Blaming the victims — for being poor, or infirm, or living in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Or it’s because God is punishing them for their wickedness. Oy.)
The inhumanity this week extends far beyond the looters and bandits in the flooded areas.