Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Say it loud, I'm Hurricane-American and I'm proud!

Unless you’ve been vacationing in Antarctica, you’ve seen or at least heard of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Thousands dead, thousands more displaced, billions in damages, blah, blah, blah. You can’t flick on the TV, radio, or fire up the ol’ computer without hours of footage from every possible angle. And just as the media buzzards seem to be running out of carrion to feed upon, out of left field comes Jack Shafer, some sort of editor at large of ultra-liberal Slate.com. In Mr. Shafer’s opinion, it’s not that the hurricane isn’t getting enough coverage, it’s that the victims aren’t being properly identified as “black victims”. Huh?

Read first, and I’ll be here when you get back…. Done? Ok, anyone want to tell me Jack’s point? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? Didn’t think so.

In the article itself, Jack mentions how 67% of New Orleans is black, and close to 30% is at the poverty level. And then he wonders why the TV news is showing so much footage of poor, black Hurricane survivors. Well? Do you think it might have anything to do with the raw statistical data that you just mentioned 11 seconds ago? Thought so.

He then goes on to reflect upon a question he’d like to posit to news anchors:

“"Can you explain to our viewers, who by now have surely noticed, why 99 percent of the New Orleans evacuees we're seeing are African-American? I suppose our viewers have noticed, too, that the provocative looting footage we're airing and re-airing seems to depict mostly African-Americans."

Are we to believe that Jack Shafer, an editor of such a prestigious website, an editor-AT LARGE, no less, is that ludicrously stupid? Or is there a hidden agenda? If you answered “Hidden Agenda,” you may already be a winner. Although the same is true if you answered “Ludicrously Stupid.”

See, Jack, the reason why there is so much TV coverage of poor, black hurricane survivors is because the vast majority of the people who were adversely affected by the hurricane are poor and black. Middle class and rich white people (as well as blacks in that socio-economic group) who had their homes carried away in a swirling torrent of muddy rain water simply check into a Holiday Inn. They have insurance, and liquid funds (if you’ll pardon the pun) with which to secure temporary lodging and other survival needs. It’s the poor blacks (and to a lesser extent, the poor whites) who don’t, and therefore need to be evacuated to the Superdome and Red Cross shelters. Simple, basic arithmetic.

As for the footage of the “black looters”, let’s all be honest with ourselves: TV cameramen would burn through six battery packs before they got any footage of middle class white families breaking into Wal-Mart and swiping diapers. Anyone who watched broadcasts of the Watts or LA Riots can attest to that “phenomenon”. I’m sure there were one or two or maybe even six-dozen white people looting, but when your population of blacks stands at 67%, you have a 67% chance of any looter being black. Somehow I doubt even the intrepid news personalities would brave rising floodwaters and fires just to balance out their broadcast with the 33% possibility of getting a few shots of white people ransacking the local 7-11. Plus there’s the fact that in 2003, there were 12,726 larcenies in New Orleans. That’s 34 a day. On a normal, non-hurricane day, 34 people are arrested for stealing things that belong to other people. Is anyone still shocked that news crews would happen to catch a few dozen black people looting in the streets?

People like Jack Shafer create controversy where there isn’t any, just to confirm his own self-importance. What he’s essentially saying is, “You mindless simpletons, can’t you see that there is a major class division in this country and poor blacks are suffering from it? It’s a good thing I, editor at large of Slate.com was here to point it out to all you cretins!” Thanks, because, we were unaware.

What you don’t see Jack doing is spending any time, energy or money to help any of the people he highlights in his piece; like most liberals, he shakes his head, clicks his teeth, and shuffles off to his duplex condo via a shiny new SUV. ALL disasters detrimentally affect more poor and disadvantaged people than their more wealthy counterparts, simply by virtue of the fact that they are poor and disadvantaged. If instead of a devastating hurricane, New Orleans was hit by a freak wave of rainbows and butterflies, 67% of the people would still be black, and 30% would still be living below the poverty line. And 34 a day would still be arrested for larceny.

Ah, but Jack leaves us with one final, haunting enigma, “Why are these African-Americans so poor to begin with?" And to that I answer: Who Cares? It’s irrelevant to the article and irrelevant to the hurricane coverage in general.

Even when multitudes of people are dying and / or having their lives decimated by tragedy, “intellectuals” like Jack Shafer are still pushing their social and political agendas. I’m sure the thousands of poor, now-homeless blacks affected by the disaster will sleep a little better tonight knowing that Jack Shafer is in their corner. Well, not literally. He’ll be at the Holiday Inn with the other rich, white people.

Sanctimonious Mortal.

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