There has been a lot of talk about whether race was a factor in the FUBAR Katrina relief efforts. Dubya pulled a good sound-byte out of his butt with, “The storm didn’t discriminate, and neither will the recovery effort. When those Coast Guard choppers were pulling people off roofs, they didn’t check the color of a person’s skin. They wanted to save lives.”
, and found the following:
Six in 10 blacks say the fact that most hurricane victims were poor and black was one factor behind the failure of the federal government to come to their rescue quickly. Nearly nine in 10 non-Hispanic whites say those weren’t factors.
Most of my black friends do honestly believe that race was a factor. My white friends are a lot more split that the survey indicates, though.
To be clear, I have seen no clear-cut evidence of racism, so I’ll not pronounce my verdict on this situation, yet. But I’d like to ask a few questions to be pondered:
- (from the article) “If it had been a 17-year-old white cheerleader who was caught in the water, [would] somebody would have tried to get there faster[?]
- For a variety of reasons, the lowest lying areas in New Orleans were primarily inhabited by the poor and the black. Was instutional or societal racism involved?
- Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge was overheard telling lobbyists: “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”
- Could it be that race was not an issue, but systemic problems occurred because the most serious of the victims (of all colors) were from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder?
- Post 9/11 relief efforts were considerably less FUBAR. However, the typical Manhattan resident or Pentagon employee has a much greater level of political access than the victims in the SE. Because 9/11 victims tended to better connected, did the authorities place a greater emphasis after that tragedy?
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