10 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

Biloxi Blues

Author: Helen

If it keeps on raining, levee’s gonna break
If it keeps on raining, levee’s gonna break
When the levee breaks, got no place to stay.
Led Zeppelin

For anyone with access to a computer anywhere, the blogosphere is alive with interconnected information about the New Orleans disaster. Blogs like Making Light, Barista, Respectful of Otters and Lan Downunder, which link to information sources such as this wiki and counterspin from hundreds of sources. (The wonderful Majikthise is actually down there volunteering.) I’m not even scratching the surface of what’s available. I’d like to thank these people, from the rest of us who try simply to keep up with the slew of happenings and comment.

Two things I’ve noticed in the past two weeks. One is that conservative bloggers/commentators have claimed that we have no right to criticise the Bush government, and that looking to institutional factors such as tax cuts and the privatisation of FEMA for explanations for the scope of the tragedy are either unjustified, or even anti-american (that letter writer can’t have been reading American blogs!)

People pushing this line really did have selective vision. choosing to ignore all the right-wing discussion points flying around: The people who were left behind chose to stay, because they were feckless and waiting for a handout. (“”These people,” as we keep hearing them called with disdain”.)And the people who were left behind were not deserving of our sympathy because they were criminals and looters. Or the destruction of New Orleans was deserved, as a latter day Sodom or Gomorrah. Or just simple ignorant, insulting comments from the US elite. The media whoring.

There doesn’t seem to have been a gag on this kind of media commentary, and the US bloggers have been right on top of it from the start. So why complain about comments which single out Bush and the US administration? (Sure, Bush isn’t personally responsible for everything that happens, but he didn’t exactly respond with alacrity.)

Perhaps it’s because “liberal” bloggers and writers are pointing out to the institutionalised problem of privatisation, outsourcing and its relationship with the administration, as well as the inability of privatised systems to respond to as disaster of this magnitude. it’s also because they turn the microscope on the entrenched social inequality that a laissez-faire, Tax-cuts, low-wage economy has generated, as well as a lot of ugly racism.

It’s one thing to criticise the powerless, another thing to criticise the system that keeps “us” (the ones earning more than the minimum wage, or welfare) all rich.

You might like to read Teresa Neilsen Hayden on the politics of the word “looting”; and Almeida on what he might do in that situation. Sometimes we can make pronouncements on a topic without really doing the thought experiment on what we might do ourselves, faced with the prospect of no food, water and medical supplies for our vulnerable small children.

If you haven’t seen it already, go and read Get off the Fucking Freeway, via Nick Possum.

All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
Thinkiní íbout me baby and my happy home.
Going, goíní to chicago,
Goíní to chicago,
Sorry but I canít take you.

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.