The Missing Rampaging Hordes In New Orleans
Finally, we are seeing articles about how the numerous stories of rape, indiscriminant looting, and murder in New Orleans were actually a bunch of malarky. Certainly there were stories of criminal behavior that were credible as witnessed by the interview with Charmaine Neville where she talked about rape, yet she also talked about how if anyone was going to be prosecuted for taking a vehicle without permission, then it was she they needed to prosecute, because she knew it was her duty to save the people she had taken under her protection even if it meant "stealing" a van. Indeed, Neville's action can be compared favorably to that of Paul Rusesabagina, the hero of Hotel Rwanda, who also broke the law to save the people who looked to him for protection.
The stories of rampant lawlessness that filled the world's press were untrue and even worse, these stories resulted in significant delays in actually rescuing people from New Orleans. In fact, the evacuation of the Superdome was suspended midweek because of the fear of the "lawlessness" of those left in New Orleans.
Atrios posted Rick Perlstein's oped which shows that the drowned city of New Orleans was less a problem of a civil insurrection than a maligned and smeared population that was simply forced to wait for someone to either let them out of the city or who would come help them find a refuge. Which version should you believe? Well, here's what one rescuer said when asked about how lawless and scary the people of New Orleans were when he and his troops showed up:
General Honoré also says help should have come sooner. First responders hesitated, he says, because they were "afraid of big crowds of poor people." It was a case of "people believing the movie." But the city was not out of control, he concluded after delivering food and seeing the streets for himself. The subsequent forays by government forces may have reassured outsiders desperate that help get into the deluged city, but, says Honoré, they "just pissed off people inside the city. Imagine being rescued and having a fellow American point a gun at you. These are Americans. This is not Iraq."
Bush is running around talking about how the military has to be given more authority for going in to communities during disasters irregardless of the state and local authorities. But his excuse is also a lie. He could have sent the military in without any problem as long as they were not acting as a national police force. Bush seems to be setting up a situation where he declares he will only respond to national problems if he can declare a state of martial law so he has total control. One question that should be asked is whether the reason aid was delayed from reaching New Orleans was because Bush didn't get the power he demanded before he would act. The answer will say whether his government's actions were malicious or merely incompetent.