Monday, December 22, 2008
E eloquently weighs in on The Nation's recent article on Algiers Point after 8-29-05 and the Color of Change's demand for justice:
What we need is an independent federal investigation into all of it: All of the vigilante killings, all of NOPD's desertions, all of Nagin's mistakes, all of Brownie's incompetence, all of Bush's neglect, and the Army Corps of Engineers for the failure of the federal levee systems. We need the truth and we need accountability, but what we really need is healing. Color of Change's call, even if it succeeds in precipitating an investigation into what happened in Algiers, is just as likely to salt our civic wounds as it is to sanitize them.
We needed it starting in late 2005 and we still need it today. Color of Change isn't going nearly far enough. They're flailing in Bobby Jindal's direction in reaction to the Thompson piece instead of actually putting forth a proposal that might help usher New Orleanians toward some sort of closure.
But again, I don't just want to call out Thompson and Color of Change. This instance is emblematic of the larger role that Katrina and New Orleans play in national political discourse.
For the nation, the federal response Katrina signalled a final deathblow to President Bush and conservative governing philosophy. Polls demonstrate that the public pretty much turned on the GOP for good as a result of the Katrina saga. The PR battle that took place between the parties was one in which the Right blamed Nagin and the natives for their lack of "personal responsibility," while the Left (and the vast vast majority of the country) blamed Bush and his henchmen for their inexplicable and inexcusable inability to respond to an entirely predictable catastrophe in a major American city.
Since then, national analysis of New Orleans is through these lenses, not just the lens of 'Katrina' but the lenses of were was the immediate partisan reactions to Katrina.
The Left, during Katrina, was justifiably incensed over the way that African Americans were labeled "looters" while whites just looking for food. That's why it is unsurprising to see the lions of the liberal netroots (HuffPo, Think Progress, Color of Change) seize upon this story - it scores points in that old front against racist right wing media portrayal.
Katrina is an eternally smoldering political fire, that actual people live here New Orleans is an abstraction that most don't, can't, and won't think about in the midst of the constant drone of the 24 hour news cycle. That the story of New Orleans continues, that it takes on new twists and turns, that its existence continues to be tenuously propped up on a three-legged stool of racism, corruption, and incompetence seems lost on much of the progressive netroots, on thinkers who I respect greatly and read every day.
The most frustrating thing to me is that the progressive netroots really can be of great assistance in this city, without really sacrificing the opportunity to score those political points.
Sign the Color of Change petition here, and keep in mind that it is a call for a beginning into an investigation of one of many things that went wrong during that terrible time over three years ago.