Friday, September 02, 2005

That which you do to the least of my brothers...

That which you do to the least of my brothers....you do to me.
That was Master Jesus's words of course. And maybe it wasn't "done" maliciously
but one can help but wonder if the response would have been different if it were Kennebunkport, or Hamptons, or Martha's Vineyard, or Palm Beach. Ho Hum- most everybody evacuated anyways. Bothers me even more that I saw several authors on the news who researched this very scenario and laid out the warnings years ago. That if the levees were breeched- a very likely plausibility, and this major city evacuated, that the poor and disabled would be left behind. Apparently noone really cared that was a possibility as there was NO local, state or Federal plan to either help them evacuate, or worse, give them basic needs once tragedy struck.----Can't spend to much energy with the anger- its vicious. Trying to release it and send all those in pain and despair Light and calling on the Angels to wrap them in Glory.

By John Whitesides
Fri Sep 2, 5:07 PM ET



WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Black leaders on Friday condemned the slow response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and said poor and mostly black storm victims in New Orleans were bearing the brunt of the suffering.

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"We cannot allow it to be said by history that the difference between those who lived and those who died in this great storm and flood of 2005 was nothing more than poverty, age or skin color," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (news, bio, voting record), a Maryland Democrat and former head of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The overwhelming proportion of black people among the refugees, made clear to Americans by television coverage of huge black crowds pleading for water and food in New Orleans, has raised questions about the role of class and race in the response.

Blacks, frequent targets of discrimination since the days of slavery, account for about two-thirds of the nearly 500,000 residents of New Orleans, according to census figures.

About 28 percent of them live below the poverty line, more than double the national poverty rate.

"Many of these Americans who are struggling to survive are Americans of color," Cummings told a news conference. "Their cries for assistance confront America with a test of our moral compass as a nation."

Among those left behind in New Orleans were residents without access to their own cars or those who could not afford to heed official warnings and leave the area before the hurricane, they said.

"If these people hadn't been poor and black, they wouldn't have been left in New Orleans in the first place," Rep. William Jefferson (news, bio, voting record), a black Democrat who represents most of New Orleans, said on the MSNBC cable network.

"The response time and all of the rest of it -- I don't know if it has anything to do with the fact that people are black. It has to do with the fact that people are poor and desperate and left in a situation where they didn't have a way out," Jefferson said.

"It's an indictment of our whole society, that at the bottom of the rungs all the time are poor African-Americans."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino rejected any suggestion that race or class played a role in the hurricane's aftermath.

"We are concerned about rescuing and helping all people affected by the hurricane, regardless of race, color, or creed," she said.

Republican House Leader Tom DeLay of Texas said the critics were trying to score political points.

"To me that is just politics, those kind of statements," DeLay said. "We shouldn't be making those kinds of statements. We've got to be focused on the needs of people on the ground."

Congressional black leaders pleaded with President George W. Bush and federal disaster relief officials to speed aid and said they were stunned by the failure to feed and shelter refugees after the storm ripped through the region on Monday.

"In the last 140 or so hours we have witnessed something shockingly awful, and that is the lack of response, a quick response, from our government to those Americans who are suffering or dying," said Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., son of the civil rights leader.

"Shame, shame on America. We were put to the test, and we have failed," said Rep. Diane Watson (news, bio, voting record), a black Democrat from California.

Cummings noted Bush's comment on Friday that the relief effort so far was "unacceptable."

"Unacceptable here sadly means people are dying," he said. "Hopefully, he will, as I have said many times, synchronize his conduct with his conscience."

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell)

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