Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We are all New Orleanians now

A hurricane is going to be in the Gulf by the weekend. So far, dead center of the "forecast cone" of where Gustav will make landfall is . . . guess where?

Yeah, there.

BY THAT TIME, forecasters say, Gustav might be -- probably will be -- a Category 3 storm. Unfortunately, a team of independent civil engineers have said that New Orleans levees may not be up to the task.

If Gustav is a strong as forecasters think it will be, and if it hits where early projections indicate it could hit, we well could end up with a replay of the horrors of 2005. Rod Dreher wrote a post Wednesday saying as much -- actually, a couple of posts saying as much -- on his Crunchy Con blog . . . and look what the hell happened:
* Perhaps God is reminding America of one reason we need to remove Republicans from office this fall.

* It was foolish to spend billions of tax dollars on repairing N.O. in the first place.

* Your friend's leaving? Bush must have had a really good policy to get him to evacuate this time. Good thing George Bush learned his lesson.

* Up here the joke was that Katrina was "just God's way of taking out the trash." So while the media will make a big deal out of it, no one else really gives a damn about a storm that happened three years ago.

* George Bush must be stopped! First, he made Katrina happen, then Fay, and now Gustav! Someone stop George Bush! When Obama is elected, he will put an end to natural disasters once and for all. Just like if Kerry had been elected, all disease would have disappeared, like John Edwards said.

* Instead of directing your anger to white people over the internet that you have never met, how about saving some for the black mayor who did nothing? You are not a smart man. Emotional, yes. Angry, yes. Scary, yes. But smart? No.
THIS IS AMERICA. With the specter of another catastrophe -- and the possible loss of a coastal city for good this time -- over the horizon and somewhere in the Caribbean, combox warriors do what Americans do these days.

They ramp up the partisan bickering, start playing "gotcha" and the blame game, with the inevitable joker cracking wise about "God's way of taking out the trash." There is no situation so dire, no prospect so tragic -- and so far, Gustav whacking New Orleans is just a days-away prospect -- that we can't use it as an excuse to continue our modern-day Civil War by Other Means.

To hell with human decency. New Orleanians (and other endangered coastal residents) be damned. What's their lives and property to us when there are "Heck of a job, Brownie" points to be racked up?

In the new millennium, it is the Chinese who make things and create wealth. That's what America used to be good at. Today, we're all about culture wars, political bloodbaths and all the other pissing matches of Dysfunctional Nation.

The blacks hate the whites, the whites say "Katrina was God's way of taking the trash out," and the Republicans and Democrats, the conservatives and liberals use the looming specter of yet more death and destruction from the sea as an excuse to ratchet up the rhetoric and spite

Yes, New Orleans was a damn mess before Katrina. It's a bigger one now.

No, the Louisiana state government isn't worth powder to blow to hell, either. But people think the feds have any damn room to talk?

If a Category 3 or 4 storm hits close enough to New Orleans next week, there's a real possibility we will witness an American city's final destruction. And this is people's response.

The problem with America, which Americans are too stupid to apprehend, is that New Orleans -- the "trash" that God had to take out, according to some -- is just a distilled and concentrated version of what the United States has come to as a whole.

Recently, Republican presidential candidate John McCain stupidly said that "We're all Georgians now," inexplicably wanting a militarily and financially overextended nation to stick its nose into a neighborhood fight. One far from its neighborhood.

No, we're not "all Georgians now." We're all New Orleanians now. Every awful thing we accuse them of being is the same awful thing we will be soon enough.

And as some of us bewail New Orleans having been built on low ground . . . on the Gulf coast . . . at risk of serial ruin from the stormy summertime sea, we issue our denunciations from atop the San Andreas fault, or from Tornado Alley, or maybe from Al Qaida's Favorite Target.

If this be divine judgment on New Orleans, can the Almighty's judgment on the rest of us be far behind, then?

Maybe that would be a profitable thing to consider . . . once people get off their g**damned high horses.

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