Color Outside the Lines

A Washington Post article on Monday alluded to the fact that Louisiana Governor Blanco was essentially in a position where she was struggling to keep her image in the face of federal government bullying just prior to Hurrican Katrina’s catastrophic landfall in New Orleans. I was having a conversation with a friend over lunch today about this very article, and the appearance that appropriate federal aid was delayed entering New Orleans in order for the Governor to protect her political image. Now, granted, that’s a pretty heavy assertion. But you have to admit, this is certainly what it looks like.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Katrina’s aftermath (there’s a phrase we’re sick of hearing) still held major time on CNN this morning. Many hurricane survivors were being given the mic in public forums, and they were, as they have over the past few weeks, accusing the powers-that-be of racism in delaying their response to help the disaster area.

Here we go again.

I will confess that I don’t know the exact demographics of New Orleans. I am certain, however, that there were Caucasians involved in the disaster. I would be willing to bet money that there were white people in the shelters as well as people of color. I have difficulty seeing officials in FEMA and the Bush administration setting around their desks saying, “hey, let’s stick it to black people.” I just seriously doubt that it went down that way.

So I guess what really jerks my chain here is this: why are we insistent upon being so juvenile as to create an issue here that doesn’t exist?

The survivors of Katrina went through hell, and I’m not saying that they didn’t. But there people of all different races and colors and backgrounds going through that hell, regardless of the primary demographic population of the Lower 9th. Whether or not the image battle that the Washington Post alluded to is true (I’d hope it’s not, but let’s face it, they are politicians), the fact is that the feds did screw this one up. But my point is that it was an equal opportunity screw-up, not a racially motivated one. To try to play the racist card in this situation is just wrong.

Should we be placing blame here? Absolutely, because lives were lost, many needlessly. We need to avoid that in the future. But let’s place the blame accurately. The feds let New Orleans down. The whole city. Not just one ethnic population. It was a poorly-managed trainwreck.

Let’s not make it out to be anything other than that.

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