Monday, July 28, 2008

Begging the question

A somewhat relevant post from Dangerblond, subbing for the Rude Pundit.

Earlier this evening I went for a little sump'n sump'n at an international coffee concern which shall remain nameless. When I got there I saw a man who used to be the boss on one of my campus jobs when I was in college. He was sitting and chatting with a friend of his. Now my old boss is black, and his friend is white. This may or may not be relevant, as far as their respective viewpoints go. Use your best judgment.

Now the conversation turned to natural disasters. The friend was comparing the responses of New Orleans during and after Katrina with the upper Midwest during the Iowa flood this year. According to him the upper Mississippi river folk got together and defended their homes with sandbags and hard work, while the New Orleanians let their city fall apart, then waited for the federal government to bail them out.

Had to eventually get away from this, and not just because I was trying to read the Angela Carter book I got from the library.

I don't want to overload the straw here. Some of the things he said may be true, about Mayor Nagin not knowing what he was doing. But this kind of "all hail the mighty market" conservatism that puts the blame right back on the poor? There are times when you should at least step back and question it. Or at least wonder if you'd see things differently if you were more involved with the Katrina aftermath than with the morning word jumble.

I've only been to the Big Easy once, mostly in the French Quarter, with some travel through the poorer sections. Since then I've talked to a couple of displaced natives. My impression is that the people still down there, or returning, are doing a lot of things in the hopes of saving themselves and their homes. Waiting for a handout is not at the top of the list. This does not mean they don't need help.

My old boss is from Jamaica, originally. There's a good chance he's seen deep poverty in the islands. He may also be a Republican, for all I know. But he seemed to have a more complex vantage point on the problem. If he was able to get that across, more power to him.

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