New Orleans one year later: still drowning in the toxic stew of indifference


This and a host of other jarring images sicken and enrage me.  I can’t shake them and they are the fuel for my rage against the political establishments of Washington, Louisiana, and New Orleans. 

Municipal officials performed Hurricane exercises and conducted studies with federal money which told them that more than 100,000 people, a quarter of New Orleans would not evacuate because of a lack of resources with which to do so. 

Photo of Ray Nagin.Ray Nagin, the corporate-cable-executive-turned-politician, had the frontline responsiblity for coming up with a plan to save his city’s indigent.  His solution: DVD’s of Hurricane planning tips. 

I didn’t notice during the 24/7 media coverage anybody riding on those DVD’s through floodwaters to safety.  The only meaningful advice I heard from the city was for people to purchase an Axe so they could cut their way through their rooftops to safety after the city abandons them to drown when the levies fail.

Adolph Reed, a professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania writes that “the fetish of “efficient” government-code for public policy that is designed to serve the narrow interests of business and the affluent-is the ultimate cause of the city’s devastation…the notion that government services are wasteful and unnecessary-the neoliberal idolatry that the market can take care of everything that needs to be taken care of-got exposed for the flim-flam that it is.”

The city of New Orleans and surrounding parishes had no plan for the orderly and safe evacuation of area jails, hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes. These indigent human beings were last on the list or completely forgotten. 

Apparently, there was no plan in place for the operation of vital emergency services of any kind.  The police, fire, sewer, sanitation, parks, and levy boards all were working on an ad-hoc basis at cross purposes unable to effectively communicate, coordinate or plan anything with any degree of efficiency.

This is all bad enough until the realization dawns on you that federal, state, and municipal officials knew that a catastrophic event of epic proportions in the gulf coast was going to happen sooner or later and that they were totally unprepared for it.

Then, of course, there was the State and the Feds whose slow, uncoordinated, and underwhelming response made the fall of Saigon look like an orderly, democratic transfer of power.

If the aforementioned photo was any relative of mine I have every confidence that I would have lost any remaining sanity and commenced to killing those persons I felt responsible.  There are just no words or excuses that explain this to me in a manner I find acceptable.

Again, Ray Nagin, the corporate executive and establishment servant is at the vortex of this morass and was construed to be a black savior for promising to rebuild and maintain a “chocolate city.”  I guess he meant white chocolate because he had no concern for the dark chocolate that was left to drown in their own homes and decompose in a putrid, toxic stew of water, chemicals, and raw sewage.

Again, Professor Reed writes that, ” Nagin speaks emphatically of his support for all displaced New Orleanians’ right to return, but that support is hollow in a context in which only property owners are seen as stakeholders…The developers are winning, and renters have no effective voice…with each passing day, a crucially significant political distinction in New Orleans gets clearer and clearer:property owners are able to assert their interests in the polity, while non owners are nearly invisible in civic life now as in the early eighteenth century. Among other things, the travesty in New Orleans reminds us that capitalism enshrines the perogatives of property owners-and the bigger the holdings, the more substantial the voice.”

Professor Reed also makes clear that the new order in New Orleans will include people of color, but only those with means. The rest, the “soap opera watchers”as desribed by Black City Council President Oliver Thomas, shouldn’t be allowed to return.

In my estimation, because of his manifold sins against the black working class, Nagin, like Bush, doesn’t care about (poor)black people.



3 thoughts on “New Orleans one year later: still drowning in the toxic stew of indifference

Comments are closed.