from American Renaissance,
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which blasted the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, the entire world has seen images that leave no doubt that what is repeatedly called the sole remaining superpower can be reduced to squalor and chaos nearly as gruesome as anything found in the Third World. The weather—a Category 4 hurricane—certainly had something to do with it, but the most serious damage was done not by nature but by man.
Much has been and will be written about why the levees that are supposed to keep the water out of below-sea-level New Orleans failed. There will be bitter recrimination about whether the federal rescue effort could have been launched sooner. Commissions will be set up to ask questions and lessons will no doubt be learned. But there was another human failing that was far more ominous and intractable. No commissions will be set up to study it, and official America will refuse to learn any lessons from it. In the orgy of finger-pointing that is coming, it will be all but forgotten. That human failing—vastly more significant than the ones the commissions will investigate—is the barbaric behavior of the people of New Orleans.
New Orleans is 67 percent black, and about half the blacks are poor. Of the city’s 480,000 people, all but an estimated 80 to 100 thousand left before the hurricane struck. This meant that aside from patients in hospitals and eccentrics in the French Quarter, most of the people who stayed behind were not just blacks, but lower-class blacks without the means or foresight to leave.
Violence of all kinds quickly spread through the paralyzed city, where robbery, rape and even murder became routine. There were still thousands of people trapped on rooftops and in attics, but on Sept. 1, Mayor Ray Nagin called the entire police force off of rescue work and ordered it to secure the city. The response form the force? An estimated 200 officers just walked off the job. “They indicated that they had lost everything and didn’t feel that it was worth them going back to take fire from looters and losing their lives,” explained Henry Whitehorn, chief of the Louisiana State Police. Many disappeared without a word. Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans also said his men were deserting. “They want to be with their families,” he said. “Well, I want to be with my family too, but you don’t quit in the middle of a crisis.”
Two police officers, including the department’s official spokesman Paul Accardo committed suicide by shooting themselves in the head. The London Times estimated that one in five officers refused to work, and some of those who stayed in uniform were useless. When Debbie Durso, a tourist from Washington, Michigan, asked a policeman for help he told her “Go to hell—it’s every man for himself.”
The collapse of security made rescue and relief nearly impossible. “No one anticipated the disintegration or the erosion of the civilian police force in New Orleans,” explained Lieutenant General Steven Blum of the National Guard. He said the city was operating on only one third of its pre-storm strength of 1,500 officers, and that the guard had to switch from rescue to law enforcement: “And that’s when we started flowing military police into the theater.”
New Orleans has had only black mayors since 1978, and has spent decades making the police force as black as possible. It established a city-residency requirement for officers to keep suburban whites from applying for jobs, and lowered recruitment standards so blacks could pass them. Katrina blew away any pretence that the force was competent.
New Orleans has a high crime rate at the best of times—it is usually in top contention for the American city with the highest murder rate—and looted and stolen firearms spilled into the street. Some blacks fired on any symbol of authority, blazing away at rescue helicopters and Coast Guard vessels. Several days after the hurricane, with desperate people still waving for help from rooftops, FEMA said conditions were too dangerous to attempt rescues.
On Wednesday, along one stretch of Highway 10, hundreds of volunteer firefighters, auxiliary coastguards and citizens with small boats were anxious to reach people, but could not set out because of sniper fire. “We are trying to do our job here but we can’t if they are shooting at us,” explained Major Joey Broussard of the Louisiana State Fisheries and Wildlife Division. “We don’t know who and we don’t know why, but we don’t want to get in a situation of having to return fire out there,” he said.A group of about 30 British students were among the very small number of whites in the stadium, where they spent four harrowing days. Jamie Trout, 22, an economics major, wrote that the scene “was like something out of Lord of the Flies,” with “people shouting racial abuse about us being white.” One night, word came that the power was failing, and that there was only ten minutes’ worth of gas for the generators. Zoe Smith, 21, from Hull, said they all feared for their lives: “All us girls sat in the middle while the boys sat on the outside, with chairs as protection,” she said. “We were absolutely terrified, the situation had descended into chaos, people were very hostile and the living conditions were horrendous.” She said that even during the day, “when we offered to help with the cleaning, the locals gave us abuse.”
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