Sunday, September 03, 2006

For Shame

I keep hearing from people a certain note of despair, unsolicited. I hear this refrain, "I keep thinking it can't get any worse than this, and it gets worse!" This country I live in has invaded countries, has decimated its own constitution, and has failed its own cities, yet there are still too many people who will not call the kettle black.

I just watched Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke. All Americans who have HBO should see this, and they should make sure their friends who don't have HBO get a chance to see it. I knew FEMA, Homeland Security, and Bush mishandled the devastation from Katrina, but I didn't know the degree. It's four hours long because Lee pulls out most of the threads that add up to this tragedy. There's the historical poverty and lack of support for New Orleans. The levees that weren't really levees were allowed to suffice when it was known they could not withstand a category 3 hurricane, something that was not common knowledge for the residents. There's the racism, the classism, the bodies left for weeks, homes marked as searched but not, the incredible delay of temporary trailers from FEMA. The only government agency that shined was the Coast Guard, who went above and beyond.

And four hours was still too short. There was not a mention of the prisoners simply left behind in locked cells. ACLU has photos of a few here. There was just a little mention that some in New Orleans hoped that certain element would not come back to New Orleans, that is, the poor black element. Just a little mention that developers are drooling over the properties of the 9th Ward, and hmmm, that sure is taking a long time to clean up. Not really a mention that hordes of volunteers have been doing the cleanup work that should have been done weeks and months before by FEMA.

Over and over the righteously angry citizens of New Orleans asked how this could happen in a country as wealthy as the USA. One man said he could not understand how there were people who still could not see George Bush for what he is. What Kanye West said was true, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," but it is also pretty clear he doesn't care about the people, period. He's one of those sociopaths that flutter around religion like a moth to a light. That sort of person knows the power they can wield with religion, and people ignore reality because he's "right with God".

I dread what the next two years bring. Democrats are working hard to take back Congress. I have little hope that they will make a difference if they do, but at least more of them will speak up against the atrocities. Even though we are already devastated economically with two major military actions still going on, and with the after-effects of Katrina still affecting whole regions due to gas prices, I fear some Wag the Dog occurrence will cause that war on Iran. And it will still get worse.

More people are asking, "What can I do?" and that is good. I hope they follow up and do what they can, but they shouldn't expect too much. After all, millions of people marching in the streets were dismissed as a "focus group" and we went to war based on lies anyway. If we can find our own small way to put a wrench in the works, perhaps the force of the people can take this country back. Whether it's volunteering for the GI Rights Hotline, or joining the ACLU, or living true to yourself in spite of the loss of our civil liberties, or speaking up when someone regurgitates untrue propaganda, there are many little ways in which we can change the course. Or at least live with ourselves.

I have been quite happy lately. I feel lucky that I have the life I have, the friends I have, the lovers I have. I enjoy the sweetness that I have, but I know it will not last. I don't cling to it, but I savor it, and if I have such good fortune and love, how can I not share it? I know if fate had placed me in New Orleans, I would not be so fortunate or happy right now. If I have something to give, how can I not give it? People thank me for the good work I do for peace, but I feel like I'm still just a dabbler. And really, I feel better and happier for doing it.

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