New Orleans 4 Years Later
“The stark and tragic images of human suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina reminded us, yet again, that civil rights and equal rights are still the great unfinished business of America.”
–Senator Edward Kennedy
This weekend marks the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s hit on the Gulf Coast, and today the 4th anniversary of New Orleans’ awakening, in spite of being spared a direct hit, to being flooded by the effects of waters surging up the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. And this week marks the 4th year since the startling “Third World” images were broadcast across our airwaves from one of our nation’s most beloved cities. It’s all been overshadowed in the news, of course, by the death and funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy.
I was heartened to hear the above quote this week from Sen. Kennedy, which told me that he understood the significance of what happened in New Orleans. He understood it in a way that the administration in power at the time completely failed to, and that many Americans still fail to understand.
I am reminded, in thinking about this, of a dinner party I attended a few months back. One of the other guests was a woman who had immigrated to the U.S. from Russia. Somehow the discussion right away got on to political matters, and she made the statement that there was no corruption in the U.S. Now granted, it’s most likely not a fair comparison between Russia and the U.S. when it comes to corruption, but as you probably suspect, I heartily disagreed. And though I don’t remember the segue, she then uttered the phrase “well, except for slavery” in referring to American history, and our lack of corruption. Well, that just floored me. It’s beyond me how anyone can discuss America at all and discount slavery – and its effects which still reverberate throughout every aspect of our lives. Not just slavery, which some people may dismiss by saying it happened a long time ago, but the Civil War over slavery, the Reconstruction period following the war, the Jim Crow period following that, the fight for civil rights which grew out of Jim Crow, right into today’s so called “post racial America” of President Barack Obama with its “birther” movement, and tea bag parties.
I said many times during our past Presidential race, that it was my belief that the candidacy and eventual Presidency of Obama, gave this country the opportunity to heal, in a way we’ve never had before, the deep wound of slavery that is so central to our history and national psyche.
If one is alert at all, and honest, the images of post-Katrina New Orleans should have reminded us, that we can never say, “except for slavery” when discussing American history, nor that there is no corruption in America. It’s once again time, to grab the opportunity, and renew our commitment to the dream of an America where there is liberty and justice for all.
P.S. New Orleans still needs our help. Here is a link where you will find actions that you can take now to help. Katrina Action Network