Created: Saturday, 16 May 2009 17:21
Written by Steve Palmer
Hurricane Katrina ripped the mask off the face of US imperialism, exposing the ugly, cruel, vicious, racist, exploitative nature of capitalism. The hurricane was an appalling destructive natural disaster. But for millions of Americans, overwhelmingly poor, US imperialism has turned it into a catastrophe. It shows the utter futility of capitalism, which, planless, riddled with corruption, putting private property before people, reacting after the event instead of preparing in advance, has nothing, absolutely nothing, to offer the poor and oppressed. US capitalism failed to evacuate everybody from the area in time, failed to rescue everyone afterwards, failed to bring relief in any kind of adequate and organised way and is preparing to turn reconstruction efforts into one big trough awash in billions of dollars for big corporations to guzzle down. Steve Palmer reports from the US.
A much-trumpeted evacuation plan for New Orleans turned out to be just hot air. The middle class fled in their SUVs. The hurricane hit, the levees (dykes) protecting the city burst, flooding the city. The city’s poor, who are overwhelmingly black, were without transport and were left behind to fend for themselves. The huge fleet of 700 school and transit buses, which might have evacuated thousands of people, were not used– and became flooded and useless.
Dramatic scenes were splashed across primetime television for days, with unceasing exposure of the plight of poor, predominantly black, New Orleaners trying to survive. The media quickly depicted black people the way they find most endearing: as helpless victims or congenital criminals, a pathetic yet anarchic mass. Wild unsubstantiated rumours of rape and murder were repeated as if fact, feeding racist fantasies. The madness reached its apogee when supposed ‘civil rights veteran’ Randall Robinson claimed that ‘black hurricane victims in New Orleans have begun eating corpses to survive’. Inevitably, conservative commentators were soon repeating Robinson’s stupid fabrication, describing the tired and hungry masses as ‘savages’, ‘animals’ and ‘cannibals’.
Two paramedics, Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Slonsky, who are shop stewards from San Francisco, recounted what really happened.
Far from being a passive begging mass:
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