By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Michael Moore was called out for blubbering how Hurricane Gustav’s pummeling of the Gulf Coast is a great euphemism for the entire Bush Administration. That kind of rhetoric obviously causes harm. Yet, we cannot overlook how grateful we should be this morning that the current government is so incompetent that more than 3 years later, they are still in place cleaning up after the last storm. This time, all the necessary machinery and equipment is in place now specifically because of the incompetence of the past three years.
I can still remember Katrina and her aftermath. We saw exposed the festering national split along racial and economic lines. The anger that boiled in me as I saw the government and nation’s response is still on the surface.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Flood, we thought we had seen all the ugliness the nation had to offer. Violence erupted on the streets, inhumanity raped the Superdome, while police and government officials ignored the pleas of the dying. There were screams and cries that the death toll and destruction of the New Orleans Flood exposed the racism inherent in our culture and which was buried out of sight of Bourbon Street revelers. President Bush and Republicans have been accused of “not caring about Blacks.”
Many pundits and rabble rousers rushed in and made the catastrophe a ‘Black Thang’. All of this has turned our stomachs and saddened our hearts.
I am here to tell you they are wrong.
The malaise and malfeasance of New Orleans and beyond, including our own community, is not an issue of Black or White or Green or Brown. I am well convinced that but-for a minority of gray-matter deprived inbreds a` la Bill Colley, ours is a Nation that has for the most part, gotten beyond the question of Race.
I stand firm in my position that what we call racism is really a question of class. We are a nation of snobs, not racists. It is not that we dislike people because of their ethnicity, culture, race (if there is such a thing), or religion. Thanks to eleven years of Republican and Conservative drumbeating, we have become a nation of arrogant selfish judgmental snobs. Our once generous heart has hardened against those without money or who did not attend the right schools. If we are convinced to part with our money through tax or charity, we insist on controlling and judging how those monies are spent.
If you doubt, then I ask you to consider two stories coming out of the disaster zones down South. The first, and what I view as the most horrific and criminal, comes out of Gretna, Louisiana. Sitting across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, Gretna is joined to the City of New Orleans by a single bridge. “Three days after Hurricane Katrina hit, Gretna officers blocked the Mississippi River bridge that connects their city to New Orleans … [the] blockade remained in place into the Labor Day weekend.”
What we see here is an American City, through its police department, closing off a road which is part of the National Highway Grid, and preventing fellow Americans, fellow Louisianans, fellow human beings, from reaching safety. Police in Gretna stood there with weapons drawn ready to shoot any American seeking refuge.
If that was bad enough, now the Gretna City Council has passed a resolution sanctioning, defending, and condoning the police actions. The Gretna government has no problem with blocking roads to safety and causing suffering to other Americans.
The Town of Gretna, Louisiana intentionally and willfully, closed their doors and let Americans die. The government there thinks this is a good idea.
There is only one cure for this callous act: From this taxpaying American to the rest of the Nation, I call out for a message to be sent to Gretna and all other such arrogant and snobbish communities: NO MORE TAX DOLLARS for you. None.
I refuse to contribute to Gretna schools, Gretna roads, Gretna municipal services, or Gretna’s healthcare system. My tax dollars should not be spent on Gretna police, on Gretna courts, on Gretna public assistance, or Gretna’s post-hurricane reconstruction. Since Gretna wants to stand alone and cut off Americans, then America should respond in kind. Wall off Gretna. Put the National Guard on all roads in. Nobody from Gretna leaves. Nothing American comes in. Since Gretna wants to be an island unto itself, then Gretna should die by the very same sword they thrust into the heart of every American.
But the cruelty and bloodletting in the new War against the Poor does not stop at Gretna’s gates. Even those who open their hearts and wallets to help the poor now sit in judgment and vote on every dime spent.
There are retailers in America who are refusing to accept the Red Cross and FEMA cash cards being given to refugees. Newspapers are carrying stories nastily spinning tales of how individuals are opting to spend the grants of relief funds. Judgments are being made and police are investigating HOW American citizens are opting to spend their money.
Of all our cherished freedoms, the primary one is of privacy and individual rights to make choices as to how you live your life and spend your money. Our government and our neighbors have no right, have no claim, have no basis upon which they can stick their nose into our tent. Insisting on doing so and then passing public judgment on what they see offend every notion of what it means to be American.
Yes, I wince when I hear stories of how my hard earned dollars, gathered in conjunction with thousands more, earned in the process of dunking a reporter into Dinosaur barbeque sauce are being spent. I do not get the luxury of visiting strip clubs, I don’t have the luxury of buying my wife a Louis Vittan purse, or new jewely, or brand new appliances and clothes.
Money from the Hurricane victims has turned up at high end retailers all across the nation. Whether at stores in Atlanta or Illinois or in strip clubs and bars in Houston, retailers are starting to sit in judgment and deny services and goods to Katrina victims. The reason is the retailer’s attitude that they, the retailer, should decide how and upon what their fellow American should spend their money.
Folks, it is none of your damn business what people do with THEIR money. If we are a nation that gives charity, or gives whatever, … once we let it go, we have to ‘let it go’. If your home is gone and all your stuff is floating out in the Gulf of Mexico, throwing down your first few dollars on beer and pussy and a pretty new Xbox for your homeless kids is a damn good thing. Louis Vittan or Radio Shack products are just the kinds of things that both lift a spirit from the mud and serves as cornerstones for a new home and life.
I am just appalled at my fellow citizens. From doctors murdering patients in a hospital to police abandoning their posts to a total collapse of civil order, I have never in my 46 years in this Country or in anything I have learned in history, seen such callous indifference by one American to another. Soldiers have died in raids to rescue one American. Leaving no one behind was our battle cry. Black flags fly everywhere in this Country specifically because we do not turn our back on our citizens; ever.
What the answers are or where they are found is the chore of those smarter than am I. But if they or anyone is listening, I leave you with this. Though our bank accounts swell; we, as a nation, are dying. The bodies floating in New Orleans are nothing compared to what I fear is a future of dead and discarded lives left in the wake of individual greed and self interest.
No man is an island and I feel surrounded by a sea of enemies.
“If they make an inappropriate decision as to what to purchase, the whole issue of victims' rights comes into play … they have a right, I guess, to be inappropriate.” (Bill Hildebrandt, Chief Executive Officer of the Mid-South chapter of the Red Cross).
Horror, chaos, violence, and death stalked the streets of New Orleans. This situation did not rise from the Hurricane or the resulting storm surge. By the morning after, most of the City survived.
It was the broken levee and subsequent flood that drowned and erased much of New Orleans from view. Gross negligence by the experts, cheapskate and lazy politicians, penny-pinching government officials, and general malaise by the taxpayer all contributed to the breaking of the levee. From that, so much pain, misery, and suffering followed the flooding waters.
I thought lived in a nation where Americans treat Americans as brothers. At least that theory is what we sell in every Middlesex, village, and farm.
Of late, there has been of late a great “awakening” where the conservatives and Republicans have laid claim to the heart and soul (and wallet) of this nation. Life is so precious, property rights so inalienable, and morality so supreme, that everything else but war is cast aside.
We as a nation have faced some serious introspection and soul-searching as soldiers and rescue crews search out the dead in New Orleans. Exposed with receding flood waters has been the toxic ugly stink that has infected our collective conscience and soul. All wonderful theories, high fallutin` moralities, and dreams of perfection are about to come crashing down hard on us.
Where we stand as a people; who we are as a nation, and how we treat our fellow man is about to face its ugliest test yet. Remember Terry Schaivo? Frankly, her situation t’weren’t nothing compared to what is about to erupt. Perhaps someone should ask John Roberts about this.
According to the London Daily Mail, “ Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leaving them to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals.” The article goes on further to describe how, “with gangs of rapists and looters rampaging through wards in the flooded city, senior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive.”
“One New Orleans doctor told how she 'prayed for God to have mercy on her soul' after she ignored every tenet of medical ethics and ended the lives of patients she had earlier fought to save … Her heart-rending account has been corroborated by a hospital orderly and by local government officials. One emergency official, William 'Forest' McQueen, said: "Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die."
What the hell has happened to our Nation? This is NOT the United States of America. It is not the nation of my fathers and theirs. Ours is no longer a people United in cause and belief.
Mercy killing? When Terry Schaivo had to languish and suffer for so long. Bing bang boom; a quick shot of morphine, and a dark place to go ni-ni … that is how American doctors respond to suffering and helplessness of their patients. Kill the patient because it is easier than protecting and saving them? Cowards, all.
Reading of this tale makes this a very sad day in my life as an American citizen. I am ashamed of my Country. From hereon, I join with the crowd that believes in the new American doctrine of “each man for himself and the hell with the rest of you.”
A shame upon all of us. Lord save us should one of us now become a nuisance to a doctor or the taxpayer. Death shall be visited upon us.
So let the Republicans celebrate in the Twin Cities while Americans drown in the Gulf. What better way to bring together and show the world how the Republicans put Party and party ahead of country.