Sunday, September 11, 2005


The Gentle Art Of Skull-Stacking

James Wolcott points out something I'd suspected since we got the first NWS weather report warnings of what would happen to New Orleans if the levees were breached by Katrina. What he notes is that, should Katrina's official death toll exceed that of 9/11, then suddenly this removes a potent symbolic tool from the hands of the folks who have been using 9/11 as a justification for every stupid, murderous, criminal and downright silly action imaginable. That's why much is being made by the righties of the possibility that the official death toll may not be as high as the 40,000 feared by some authorities, or the 10,000 predicted by New Orleans' mayor in his city alone. But what the righties don't want to admit is that the 9/11 toll was itself radically scaled down from what was first feared. Early on, it was thought that upwards of 6,000, and perhaps as many as 50,000, people died in the Twin Towers, since at least that many persons worked there and upwards of 70,000 persons visited the Towers each day. That estimate kept going down as the days progressed. The other thing is that the 9/11 strikes, while deadly, didn't even come close to destroying either New York City or Washington, D.C. Life went on in both places -- not always well, especially at first, but it went on. If you were twenty blocks away from either one, and working in a well-insulated modern office building, you may not have even heard the blasts when the planes hit. But Katrina not only devastated New Orleans, she ripped up Biloxi, Gulfport, and pretty much any and every town on the Gulf Coast from the Texas border to Alabama. And the blame for Katrina -- both in the fact that she was so strong in the first place (global warming, plus loss of the wetland buffers that protected the Gulf Coast), and in the fact that Bush did nothing, before or after, to mitigate her effects -- cannot be dumped into the laps of brown people living overseas. (Though the cons, with their racist blame-the-victim stance, are sure trying to blame the brown people who live on the Gulf Coast.)

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