Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Monday, September 05, 2005

On Katrina and Accountability

Everybody else with a blog is writing about this too, and I generally accept the fact that other bloggers handle current events with far more savvy than I ever could and therefore keep my mouth shut. But the Katrina aftermath is different, I think. It's obsessing me: I can't stop reading about it, no matter how much work I have to do and no matter how much it hurts to keep reading. I think this is telling us something about who we are. And some of what it's telling us is positive (the heroics of people like Jabbar Gibson come to mind), but a lot of what it's tellling us is not just negative--it's terrifying.

So I'm going to be even more self-indulgent than usual by adapting a comment I made over at Bitch.Ph.D into a full-grown post here, not because others haven't already done it better, but because I feel it's my responsibility to say something, somewhere.


I'm in complete agreement with those who've already said that figuring out who's responsible and why things went so horrifically wrong is part of our national responsibility--and, by extension, part of our individual responsibility as concerned members of a democracy. It's not only the best way to keep this kind of thing from happening again: it's the best thing we can possibly do to honor the dead in the weeks and months to come.

I have a hard time believing that Bush actually wants to prove a political point or wipe out an undesirable portion of the constituency by denying aid to areas hit by Katrina. I can't imagine how, even in his little pea-sized brain, he'd think that the fallout would be worth making the point, even if he genuinely didn't care about thousands of people's lives. And there are other people in the Bush Administration who have more functional gray matter than he does and would surely be able to foresee the PR disaster such behavior would induce, even if they didn't have an ounce of compassion.

I do hear what folks have said elsewhere about how recent disaster relief efforts in Florida moved so much more quickly and smoothly, and I'll admit that I wonder whether there wasn't a certain--ah--callous indifference at play in the slow response to NOLA's plight. But I really think a lot more of what happened was about plain old incompetence, nepotism, and stupidity.

I think this is what happens when a nation allows itself to elect a total idiot as its leader, then buys into the cynical manipulations of his handlers by allowing him to convert the horror of a terrorist attack into dedicating vast portions of the nation's resources to a war that's really a family vendetta, meanwhile hiring unqualified family friends to run major branches of the government and slowly strangling social programs and public safety services to death in the name of States' Rights and private enterprise.

Here's the thing: If we'd been more aware, less frightened, and more on the ball as a citizenry before, I don't think the NOLA nightmare would've happened in the first place.

Remember the rallying cry of "Don't let the terrorists win?" Well, honestly, I think they won this round. They scared us into re-electing a dangerous incompetent during our time of need because he looks convincing in a flight suit and can reduce complex issues to the comforting, easy dichotomies of melodrama. What happened in NOLA is only part of the fallout.

We can't afford not to pay attention to what this government is doing anymore. It hasn't proven itself worthy of our trust, and we need to hold it to account. Because we're accountable, too: we elected it.