“There have been a lot of failures at a lot of levels — local, state and federal,” Powell said in an ABC interview for the “20/20” program to be broadcast on Friday evening.
. . . “There was more than enough warning over time about the dangers to New Orleans. Not enough was done. I don’t think advantage was taken of the time that was available to us, and I just don’t know why,” Powell said in excerpts on ABC’s Web site.
He said he did not think that race was a factor in the slow response, but that many of those unable to leave New Orleans in time were trapped by poverty which disproportionately affects blacks.
First lady Laura Bush on Thursday denounced critics who say race played a role in the federal government’s slow response to victims of Hurricane Katrina, calling the accusations “disgusting.”
However, she noted that poor people were most vulnerable to the devastation and said that the disaster’s aftermath is a “wake-up call” for the nation to address the issue.
Black people comprise about two-thirds of the population of New Orleans, and many lived below the poverty line.
. . . The first lady also said: “I do think — and we all saw this — was that poor people were more vulnerable. They live in poor neighborhoods; their neighborhoods were the ones that were more likely to flood, as we saw in New Orleans.
“Their housing was more vulnerable, and that’s what we saw and that’s what we want to address in our country.”
If I hear this right, Powell says that the response was inexcusably and unexplainably slow (something that Laura Bush doesn’t address — at least in this article’s quotations of her), but both are quick to say that race isn’t a factor but class was a factor (at least in how the storm affected people).
Very, very interesting. It does seem interesting to me that both of them are quick to denounce the idea that the response was based on racism (because that is politically unacceptable these days), but seemed to accept and agree that poverty was a serious factor in how folks were able to make it in this disaster.
I’m glad that Laura thinks that this is a serious issue that America needs to work on, but why, why, why is there no criticism of how this country has dumped on poor people in the very recent past (who in large part happen to be black)?
Why did America pass the BARF (a/k/a – Bankruptcy Abuse Reform Fiasco), that if left in place will lead to many of those in New Orleans being in massive debt (since they will still owe the mortgages for the homes that no longer are standing) that will be impossible in many cases to shed in bankruptcy thanks to BARF?
Why did the feds slash funding for the levees in recent years?
Why did the feds spend billions of dollars to supposedly liberate the people of Iraq (to say nothing of the lost lives), while our own people are suffering so much?
I do hope that Laura Bush’s statement reflects a change of heart for our nation’s leadership, but for now I have to say that our government does not care much about poor people (or black people either). Our government can say all it wants and issue all of the platitudes in the world, but the proof of intention is our nation’s actions.
I have to say that increasingly I am drawn to the truth of this statement from the preamble of the IWW constitution:
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.
Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.
(The only thing I would add is that I think this should be a nonviolent struggle.)