They Are Dying at This Moment
By Brandy Baker
“Please, take my baby,” a woman stuck in New Orleans was reported saying as she gave her two-month-old child to a woman who was on a packed bus. The mother did not know this woman to whom she gave her baby and may never see again. This selfless act of saving her baby was reported on CNN: sandwiched between reports of “looters” and gunshots.
I am having a hard time believing that the richest country in the world with the strongest military ever known to the human race was not able to respond more quickly to the tragedy in New Orleans so that more lives could be saved. Oh wait, much of the military is in Iraq fighting an illegal war instead of saving lives here in New Orleans. Billions of dollars that we need for events like this are drained by an illegal occupation in a land that most Americans knew little to nothing of before 1991.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco is apparently “outraged” by the mayhem taking place. Obviously, it is important for her that people behave themselves as they are needlessly starving to death and dying while waiting for help that should have already came. Why would looting be a crime in this situation? Why would it be called looting? Why doesn’t the media call it “looting” when it is white professionals who happen upon medicine and bread?
TV anchors wonder aloud why people are so frustrated. Makes sense, since the TV anchors would have no idea what it is like to be abandoned by your own country in a natural disaster. Being poor sucks, but damned if they will ever have to find that out. When the poor are not being ignored, they are stepped on, spat on, and shit on. It has happened to them so often in everyday life that those in New Orleans see why they are still waiting on help. “There are poor people and old people that need help,” one man in a crowd of people waiting for food and water was saying.
“I don’t treat my dog like that,” 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the dead woman in the wheelchair. “I buried my dog.” He added: “You can do everything for other countries but you can’t do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can’t get them down here.”
Hugo Chavez has pledged financial support. The governor of Texas has agreed to take in thousands. The mayor of San Antonio, in a show of compassion, publicly empathized with the people in New Orleans by pointing out that their jobs, possessions, and dignity are all gone. He has pledged to help and “treat [these people] the way that we would want to be treated.” He has also promised that San Antonio would take in the school age children who survive this disaster. If our other politicians had this much compassion for the poor in this country, much of this disaster would be curtailed and I would not to be writing this article.
George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton are appearing together on CNN to ask for help. I turned off the TV right before they came on. I cannot stomach the image of watching these two corporate whores who were so hell-bent in crippling those who had the least when they were in the White House. They have asked for help for a situation for which they are partially responsible. Through war and sanctions on the Iraqi people, they paved the way for [Bush] Jr. to wreck havoc on the Iraqi people and drain our country of the resources that we need and do not have to alleviate this state of affairs.
“Help is coming,” the current thief-in-chief tells us. Well where is it you sorry son of a bitch? I hope that the help you are talking about is not the “help” that you are now giving to the Iraqi people.
The poor of New Orleans did not “choose” this: they did not choose to stay. The word “choice” often follows the word “poor” and “poverty” in our discourse. Having the privilege of personal choice (i.e. car, credit) is expensive. Not having it is costly. The residents of New Orleans are now paying a dear price.
Brandy Baker is a writer living in Baltimore.
—CounterPunch, September 5, 2005