Submitted by Jim Aune on September 10, 2005 - 10:22pm
I used to live in New Orleans. My first teaching job was at Tulane; I didn't stay very long, partly for professional reasons, but by the time I left I finally had gotten used to the climate and the culture, even though New Orleans was to my home state of Minnesota a kind of "antitype," like Sparta and Athens, to use a wildly inappropriate analogy.
This past week was the hardest week I have spent teaching at Texas A&M. In my honors class on Tuesday, the vast majority of the students appeared to believe that the events after the hurricane were the residents' fault, and were very close to saying "those people" during the discussion. No one spoke up to criticize the Supreme Leader or his crony "Brownie." Everyone seemed to seize on the rapper's comment that "Bush doesn't care about black people." An African-American colleague of mine was about ready to resign last week or at least give up trying to teach Aggies anything.
Once again, we not only live in "two nations," in terms of values, but also in terms of facts. Global warming (the Gulf is 2 degrees warmer than normal, so expect more hurricanes); the lack of experience (and lies on his resume) of Brownie; the outright lies by the Bushies about the levees and about requests from the state and local government; the statement by the Baton Rouge legislator that "We've been trying to do something about public housing in New Orleans for years--now God has done it for us"; the list goes on.
One bit of news that hasn't gotten covered has been the origins of the SuperDome itself. It once had been a vibrant working-class neighorhood that was torn down to built the stadium. The "natives" were herded into the public housing projects that have been become so dangerous. Here's a good article from Monthly Review's new "zine": http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/dunbarortiz070905.html
Just as the storm hit, I had finished reading the first novel of a new trilogy on global warming by my favorite sci-fi novelist Kim Stanley Robinson--Forty Signs of Rain. The book explains the science behind the New Orleans events (and more to come) very well.
Texas A&M has taken about 200 "refugees" into Reed Arena, our basketball stadium. The email our (former head of the CIA) president sent out is a masterpiece of bureaucratic language, emphasizing to his Aggie audience the security conditions under which the refugees will be held. Yesterday a transgendered person was arrested in Reed Arena for using the "wrong" bathroom.
It's hard to frame the fitting (to prepon) rhetorical response; I again feel like I don't live in America anymore. 36% of the public would still love Bush even if he ate their children. What will the rest do?
This photo, captured from TV, says a lot: