The Disgrace of New Orleans
Above, a photo of a New Orleanian prepared to fight for what's right. A pity the city doesn't have many more like him.
The hurricane and flood are a shame. The slow government response is unacceptable. But the wide, systematic looting, by large numbers of the city's residents is a criminal disgrace. This will scar the image of the city forever. And should.
But even worse is the downplaying of what has happened. Mayor Ray Nagin the other day gently crticized the looters but said that many of them were " just looking for food " or something like that. Oh yeah? Is that why I saw images of grinning looters with carts filled with Budweiser, Nikes and others with armfuls of jeans sloshing through the waters. That must be why they stole all the guns from a Wal-Mart, and why all the cars were stolen from a dealership. Because they needed food for the little babies.
I saw a comment from Sri Lanka yesterday, a place that is incomparably poorer and where the ( tsunami ) damage was much greater. The Sri Lankan said that she knew of no looting there, and that not one tourist was mugged when the tsunami hit. She said that " now we know who is civilized " or something to that effect. She is not wrong.
Mayor Nagin has been shooting his mouth off about the allegedly slow response of the Federal Govt. Well, that's his right, but its also our right to take a look at this guy and the performance of his people.
It has been reported that:
a) up to 1/3 of the New Orleans Police Department deserted their posts when the flood waters hit
b)NOPD officers stood by when the looters hit and there were several reports of NOPD officers participating in the looting
c) New Orleans sent refugees to the Convention Center, but did not advise FEMA or other agencies about it. ( Therefore, no FEMA aid went there in the early days )
d) Nagin and the city provided no vehicles to evacuate people without cars. ( The city had no vehicles at its disposal? Not one school bus? )
The disgraceful response of much of New Orleans' population was mirrored by the performance of a loudmouth mayor who blamed Bush and the Governor, but apparently had no idea that the mayor and his city government had some responsibility to act first. They're the ones who supposedly know the city best, they are the ones on the ground already.
Compare Nagin's performance to that of Guiliani on 9/11 and afterwards. With Giuliani, who very nearly died that morning, the work of recovery and social order began immediately and the buck stopped with him. Though aid was sought and given by the nation, there was never a question as to who was in charge, who was responsible. And because the City and the NYPD / FDNY responded so well from the beginning, the Federal reponse complemented if perfectly.
With Nagin, all responsibility is avoided, replaced by pointing the finger of blame wags at Baton Rouge and Washington and the media and whoever. Its a great New Orleans show, but it will kill his city.
In their hour of need, New York had a much better mayor than it deserved. And much of the New Orleans population now has --exactly--the mayor it deserves.