Is New Orleans a cursed city? The Katrina Report suggested there is still a deep and lingering discrimination against the ultimate revival of that important, Southern, American, core. Now we have reports from the field that disabled children are being discriminated against within the urban seawall.
The British Petroleum oil spill currently poisoning the Gulf of Mexico and saturating the American coastline with a thick, brown, three-inch, frosting of petroleum gunk, is both tragic and completely expected. When “Drill, Baby, Drill” becomes the hubristic political mantra of a radical wing, the end result of such an insane and insensitive notion is the punishment currently shattering the shores of Louisiana that will shame the previous, and preventable, Katrina damage by a magnitude of suffering humanity and rotting wildlife.
Amnesty International have put, not a period, but an exclamation mark on ongoing horrors in New Orleans post Katrina. The analysis is devastating and humiliating. Is New Orleans a city in the United States of America? If so, why is it still being treated like a third-world country?
We were disturbed to learn many faculty members at New Orleans universities were fired without due process:
tenured faculty were fired with scant notice, no meaningful due
process, no stated reasons, and no appeal save to the very
administrators who released them. Faculty were not consulted about
these actions or given an opportunity to suggest alternatives. Some
found out they had already been taken off payroll and health care.
Departments and programs were closed without appropriate review. While
a number of institutions had suffered serious damage from the
hurricane, we found no justification for this wholesale abandonment of
due process and shared governance. Indeed, as the report eloquently
declares, this is exactly the kind of challenge that requires wide
consultation and full participation by the faculty before drastic
actions are taken.
They collect bodies. They take DNA. They look for signs of murder. They are the Dead Collectors of Hurricane Katrina and they are a freelance band of volunteer “death experts” from around the country who helped process bodies. They are morticians, medical examiners and anthropologists. A good friend of mine returned from Katrina collecting with the horrors of her experience rotting in her mind. Katrina re-defined the meaning of gruesome for her and how callousness and disregard led dying lives into the dead.
People are shocked to learn in New Orleans gunshots are being fired at helicopter rescuers, cellular tower technicians and levee engineers. Why the shock? It all makes perfect human sense: There is profit in chaos. In a crisis, a grab for power can bring new life and tempt an old death. Right now those in power are those who best know the backwater streets and flooded alleyways.
Those who control the ground are required, as willful instruments of human impulse, to finally enforce their minority will on the majority with muscle and bullets. Those creating the chaos must perpetuate it with fear against those who wish for a quick return to law and order because there are riches buried in the Katrina rubble and restoring access and electricity and good people defeats the mission of those who seek to reap profit from death.