We Would Have Fought or Died

This post is inspired by one at Eschaton. What I’m about to share is both private and painful.

I don’t want to politicize Katrina – but there are too many Right wingers already doing that – so it’s time to speak up.

More than likely my family would not have survived, if we were in the same circumstances we were when I was a kid – and been in New Orleans the day Katrina hit.

I don’t talk much about growing up – my childhood – because many would not understand. Some would make incorrect judgments. Others would look down on me. Some would take pity. I’ve never wanted any of that. Never asked for any of that. And I am proud to have made it to where I am pulling up my own bootstraps.

But as a kid – me and my family lived Social Security check to Social Security check. It would get to us on the 1st of the month. Each month the 1st was a happy day. But as the month wore on – there would be less and less of everything – including food.

Katrina hit on the 29th. We would not have had cash to leave town. We would not have had cash for public transportation. We would not have had cash for food. We would not have had cash for water.

Since we moved so often, and knew no neighbors – our choice would be stark: to give up and die – or be among those foraging for food – “lootersâ€? to you hate mongers – and treking our way out of town. I think the later. Because we’re fighters.

My family survived the circumstances of our childhood poverty. But for those poor in Katrina’s wake – who the Right is vilifying with a broad brush – their nightmare goes on.

I hope no one in my family is upset I posted this. When I got reminded about the 29th of the month… I had to share. My heart is heavy for those who have been hit – and those who are fighting to survive.

Albert has a great set of charities for donations. Pick one and donate.

Oh, and as for the President, well I expect his approval ratings to jump back to normal when he lands in New Orleans. It won’t mean *anything* for those in the thick of it however. Won’t mean a damn thing.

17 thoughts on “We Would Have Fought or Died

  1. It’s important for people like you to tell your stories, it helps dispell the myth that people in poverty are lazy and that treating them as disposables instead of people is acceptable.

  2. Karl, it’s a terrible situation and nobody with half a heart blames people who are taking food and water from wherever they can get it. But there also people who are truly looting. And that is why some sort of order needs to be restored by whomever is qualified to do it. Your story is sad and sadly common, but a distinction needs to be made between the people stealing for their own survival and those stealing for their own profit.

  3. Thanks for the comment Cranky.

    Melissa – did I have anything to say about those trying to steal for profit? Of course those that are going about stealing TVs need some jail time.

    But the media has been doing a terrible job making that distinction. And there are those that are making political hay by saying the folks down there are getting what they deserve.

    And it disgusts me.

  4. Unfortunately along with all the people just trying to survive, there’s a significant criminal element, which probably includes the people stealing TVs and jewelry and the jerks who are firing guns on volunteer rescue boats. Everybody’s emotions are incredibly raw and this is just way too hard to deal with all around. I can’t fathom being in the situation, because it’s terribly difficult to watch from afar. I’ve actually been watching very good reports on Fox News (of all places). I’ve always liked Shepard Smith, and he’s done a wonderful job on his reporting. He said he’s from Mississippi, so I think he brings a hometown perspective to their broadcast. Anyway, I wasn’t trying to offend and I’m not minimizing your feelings.

  5. You’re not politicizing Katrina… you are just speaking the truth, which is always important. And why shouldn’t Katrina get politicized? Katrina has made it clear that there are still major socio-economic inequalities going on in this nation, and 40 years after the end of legally enforced segregation these socio-economic inequalities are still breaking down amongst racial lines. It’s important that this nation talk about this issue and confront our skeletons that we often pretend don’t exist. This isn’t about “politics”, this is about quality of life for all of our citizens.

  6. The Bridge to Nowhere

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  7. You’re not offending me Melissa. It is real hard to offend me 🙂

    I think an element to understand for survivors is there has been so few visible efforts of help and for hope.

    I would urge you to read around. Go to other news sources. Go to the newspapers of their towns like Nola – that you can do because of the miracle of the web.

    Because Fox is NOT the final word on the the story. By a long shot.

    And thanks Betty.

  8. Karl, I have been all over the internet reading this story. How could I not, it’s unavoidable. Of course Fox News has a conservative slant, I know that. But the particular show I’ve been watching has been extremely fair and sympathetic. Just because they’ve talked about some people walking off with TV sets, (the rest of the msm and print media has also) doesn’t mean they haven’t extensively covered the very bad situation of what’s been going on in the superdome and the people who’ve been desperately scrounging for food. I’m not defending Fox News as much as I’m defending my right to watch a very compassionate and well executed broadcast. Anyway, I’m in a clear minority here (I’m not sure what minority that is, the relatively liberal people who happen to like Shepard Smith, I guess) so I think I’ll just let my portion of the discussion die. See you later.

  9. Aww Melissa, I didn’t mean to offend you 🙂

    I have an allergic reaction to Fox. It’s a reflex… apologies 🙂

    You had a good point that we agreed on.

  10. OK, I lied. I’m back. Thanks for understanding Karl. I know we’re trying to keep our collective chins up as the situation (unbelievably) keeps getting worse. Have a nice holiday weekend.

  11. Thanks for the link, Karl. I knew it wasn’t just my imagination that he’s been doing a great job. 🙂 I worked late tonight and missed Shep’s coverage. Probably a good thing, it just makes me cry. Unfortunately, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of sadness for me to wallow in tomorrow. Try to have a nice weekend. Take a break from the news.

  12. It’s very hard to distinguish or think of people who choose to stay in New Orleans because of the potential of profiting off of looting.

    I think, in that situation, I might be walking out the door with clothes (some of them might be dry and they might fit me or someone near me) and tvs (lost my home, probably my job — because it no longer exists — and everything I own. In a few weeks, that tv might be $15).

  13. One element people tend to forget in this whole screwed up mess is something the Mayor of NO mentioned – the addicts. Anyone who knows how an addict behaves when they do not get a fix will begin to understand the situation a little bit more. These are people that desperation is not the word to use for them. They already act irrational, but when they start to withdraw and cannot find a fix, they go into a psychotic rage. So picking up a gun and firing at rescue workers and doctors is not surprising. Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoding it but I do understand what is happening. And of course, there are always going to be criminals to take advantage of a situation. Hell, it happens every normal day in the country. It has been happening at the gas pumps by the hour (you cannot tell me that X gas station who bought their fuel several days before the hurricane, had to raise their prices after the crisis beecause the price of fuel went up – this is where capitalism fails us – these people are making profit off of a terrible situation).
    Let us take the emphasis off of the “looters” and put more focus on the fact that our government failed the gulf coast. And now it is time for those people to pay.

  14. The last figure I heard was 150 arrested in New Orleans. I would have to think that at least some of these were the armed looters.

    This is not a significant portion of the population left behind.

    And it is in fact a bloody poor excuse for not bringing that city back to order when we have armed services that have boasted “We Own The Night.” 150 people, even scattered throughout that city, could not have been much for a couple of Blackhawk gunships with night vision and IR targeting. Don’t any of you recall Predators seeking out and killing *single people* in Afghanistan and Iraq (and I’m sure other mid-east countries). If anything, that such a small bunch could “rule” a city — an AMERICAN city — for even a day is another point of shame for this administration.

    And for all you jolly macho types, how many people are in your family? If *one* person came to your door with a gun, how soon would you surrender? How about immediately? And no one here would think less of you for it (except possibly your fellow jolly macho types).

    I offer no excuses for the thugs who broke in to finally pick up an iPod. But breaking in to get food, or boots, or something survival-related? Hey, that’s what insurance is supposed to cover. I damned well would have done that. And if a crisis hits around me, I’ll have no qualms doing it — especially now, seeing as we can no longer rely on our own damned employees (the politicians and their crony hires) for rescue.

    Karl: I grew up in similar financial circumstances. Bravo to you for bringing it up.

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