Since the hurricane came hurtling into the Gulf area on Monday , my feelings of despair and doom have not abated and they have proven to be right once again.
Almost simultaneously we got these news from Iraq ( amid the usual grim dispatches from there this was even more terrible). But as it has been established that Iraq is in a huge mess which has finally 'officially' escalated to sectarian war and must therefore run its natural course, so I'll leave this specific story alone for today as this post is mostly about the natural disaster and its unfolding drama in the USA.
In my eyes the aftermath of Katrina's trail of destruction is worse than 9/11, because 9/11 was a sudden and unnatural tragedy. Katrina, on the other hand was expected and announced. I will not talk about the defensive measures not undertaken, nor about the levee system , the federal budget or the alleged ineptitude of the governement. It is not my place to criticize especially in these hard times while people are dying, suffering, starving and have lost everything , and especially that I am ignorant in basic economics.
As an Arab and an African I think that stories of disasters and violent deaths have become the norm in my part of the world and after while your senses become dulled. But though you feel pain and cry in your soul nothing really shocks you anymore. However, watching the unfolding stories about the state of affairs in New Orleans and the rapid descent into chaos is unbelievable : anarchy ? urban warfare? looting ? and even shooting at rescue helicopters?
I cannot fathom that this is actually happening in the USA; these scenes are straight from Africa and Asia -from the so called Third World countries....I think that is why we are all so shocked. In only a couple of days we have discovered that people can suffer even in America.
So here am I in my little corner of the world, crying with the desperate devastated city , gropping at the proverbial straw and praying for their safety and feeling relief at some miracles also as reported from there by blogger Loki de Carabas .
This tragedy and ensuing looting of the city has brought to my mind another looting of another ancient city Baghdad . In April 2003, I felt shame that Iraqis were supposedly looting their own country and though there were many rumours and reports that the looters were Kurds protected by the Kurdish militia and that some of them were even brought in from Kuwait. I was still angry that the US army stood by and only protected the ministry of oil. Although I' m not Iraqi I felt ashamed at the pictures of the looting even of Saddam's palaces which were beamed into every household worldwide. While not Iraqi, I had to face the dilemna that I felt ashamed that an Arab (or Kurd they are the same to me by the way) would be looting ...Stealing food if you are hungry I could understand , but museums, palaces and national treasures I could not, even if I was into conspiracy theory mood . But today I have come to terms with this feeling , it is allright people will be people everywhere in the world, there are good and there are bad, tragedies have a way of bringing out these feelings in us and some will be heros while others become evil. Katrina has provided me at least with this closure , I do not have to feel ashamed when an Iraqi was looting in his own country after being invaded by the strongest ( currently) military force on earth.
It was also eerily comforting to find out that after last year's Tsunami there was looting in Sri lanka and strangely enough looting even took place in European homes of Tsunami swedish victims. This I thought was very callous because even the supposedly terrorist Free Aceh Movement in Indonesia has ordered a ceasefire to facilitate aid reaching the victims in Aceh.
This stranded blogger cobalt green suggests (today - it seems to be already Saturday in New Orleans) the following solution to get quicker help in the city :
"OK everyone... we must think outside the box to get help into our city! Here's what I propose we do to get a government response faster:
1. Announce they are giving late term abortions down at the Convention Center
2. Spread the rumor that they're thinking about disconnecting the feeding tube of a (white) woman in a coma at one of the hospitals still standing.
3. Ask a calm, mourning, middle aged woman to camp out for peace along Canal Street.
(PS... I already dread hearing Bush's BS after his visit today!) "
I'm glad to say there is still a sense of humour in desperate times. For more of live input from survivors go to this blog Katricanacanes Friends and follow the links to other live journals.
So Katrina has thought me several lessons about humanity, one of them is that even the strongest nation on earth cannot always cope. There are no superheros. I am left wondering as to why is it that the poorest part of America is suffering so much? and why are the majority of victims I see on TV African-Americans? Is it just a question of the demography of the area ? I'm truly asking questions because I am ignorant of so much and willing to learn. I don't wish to be bogged down by political issues of who did what when or whose fault it was. I want to think about going forward and finding solutions to alleviate this pain to Nola which has obviously become a dependent society.