Monday, September 12, 2005

This Post Brought to You by Sidelines

Thanks to Manderson for giving me permission to reprint my column on my blog. Don't forget, kids, I don't own my brain - Sidelines does! Also, Manda wrote the headline, if anybody cares.

Evacuees not just victims, but people; Finger-pointing, blame unneccesary

After the disastrous Hurricane Katrina has left, people have started attempting a new life. This, of course, means that government officials have been touring the wreckage, saying all sorts of stupid things. has listed such quotations, begging the question, "Why are these people in charge?" It really puts the whole disaster thing into perspective.

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." This one belongs to none other than our commander in chief, George W. Bush. This, of course, is laughable. Granted, the notion that Bush is somehow responsible for the hurricane is far-fetched at best, but warnings came. Do a simple Google search of "levee warnings Katrina," and the faithful search engine returns about 214,000 hits. But nobody anticipated it.

"What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this [insert chuckle here] - this is working very well for them."

The chuckle really gets me. This was former first lady Barbara Bush, and normally I'd be inclined to leave her out of this, but I couldn't ignore this one. I highly doubt evacuees are actually thinking, 'That cardboard box wasn't work well for us - let's just live in the Astrodome!' This is why rich people should never be in charge of anything that involves people who aren't rolling in money. They just don't have the capacity to understand or even attempt to fathom the horrors that these people deal with on a daily basis. It's nice that Texas has opened its doors to those in need, but I'd hardly consider being uprooted to the Astrodome because your city has just been obliterated to be "working very well."

"Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well." Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown gave us these words of wisdom. So, yes, aside from the death, destruction and mayhem, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. By the way, Brown also said that residents who didn't evacuate bore some responsibility for their fate. That's right, folks, if you don't listen to government warnings, your fate is a watery grave.

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." This was Bush to Brown. How cute. He has a nickname for him. Pardon me for not rushing to pat him on the back. I'm a little distracted by all the cadavers.

"There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving." Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said. There are penalties for those who didn't evacuate - they lost pretty much everything, if not everything. I think they've learned their lesson. Get them help and quit pointing fingers.

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." Rep. Richard Baker, a Republican from Louisiana, said, though I can't imagine what would make him think it was a good idea. That's right, kids, the hurricane was just God's way of cleaning up New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina brought about the kind of devastation we are not used to dealing with, and perhaps that's what led to all the ridiculous quotations. However, it seems far more likely that the people in charge just don't want to get their feet wet or get their hands dirty.

Helping people varies by the individual, but huge governments ought to do more than discuss legislation, point blame and tell the press how sad they are that New Orleans will never be the same again.

If there ever was a time that was completely inappropriate for PR spin, this is it. This isn't about trying to make one group look good and one group look bad. It's hard to come out on top when everything is under water. But genuine compassion goes a long way. Taking time to play with children in the Astrodome would probably mean more to them than a robotic government action of forcing canned goods and grief counselors upon them. The victims of Hurricane Katrina aren't just victims - they're people.

CNN's Anderson Cooper probably put it best with this response to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), after she went on thanking politicians for encouraging words and harping about Congress "going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill."

Cooper's response: "I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other ... it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here?"

Precisely my point.

Check it out online here.

I got a comment from a reader. Naturally, he criticized the headline (something many readers do), which, as I mentioned before, I didn't write. My favorite part is how he thinks I'm married and keeps referring to me as "Mrs."


theogeo said...

Man, Wendy, your columns sure are "bi-polar." How can he tell you to get your facts straight when he's calling your column bi-polar? My brain hurts.

TVonthefritz said...

Kara ( is gunnin' for you.

Wong Online PoKér Hu said...

More than anything else, evacuees are human beings. They are not object of publicity, but subject of care and affection. These people deserve more than what they are getting.