Editor’s Page
Guest Editorial
By Ed Lusch
Blaming the Victims

     Last month’s issue of EI Ojo del Lago carried an article entitled “Hurricane Katrina—Another Viewpoint.” In this absurdly illogical, incredibly insensitive piece, the author claims that Hurricane Katrina was not a natural disaster. “It was a man-made disaster. The man-made disaster is the welfare state.”
     Say what? If a Class 4 hurricane packing 140 mph winds slams into three states, causing tens of billions of dollars in damage and the loss of almost 1,000 lives is not a natural disaster, then the term should be stricken from the English language.
     The author insists the welfare state alone caused the destruction, death and devastation of a huge chunk of the Gulf States. This argument as obviously irrational as it is, needs no rebuttal. It shines brightly as a beacon of irrefutable inanity.
     And, following this opening salvo of bullying claptrap, the article describes the streets of New Orleans after Katrina hit as, “Trash-strewn and lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people.” Didn’t these people just go through a nightmarish hurricane? Didn’t they lose their apartments, homes, livelihoods and loved ones? They are not rabble, they are not squalid, they are downtrodden and demoralized human beings.
     But this mean-spiritedness seems to have no bounds as the writer goes on to compare the victims (or as he calls them “wards of the welfare state”) with criminals. “...and people selected over decades for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness.”
     Self-induced helplessness? Were they the ones responsible for eliminating funding intended to strengthen and elevate the levies, “pork” as the Bush administration labeled it. Was it their fault they had no means to get out of the city and government that at all levels failed to provide timely evacuation plans? Did they plead with FEMA to delay shipments of food, water and medical supplies until after Katrina struck? I think not. The horror that tens of thousands of hurricane Katrina victims went through was self-induced?
     The real story the author says is not about wind and flooding but about rape, murder and looting. The welfare recipients used “the chaos of disaster to prey on their fellow men.” Wrong. The vast majority of people on welfare are decent, law-abiding citizens. Their “crime” as the author sees it is that they are poor. If jobs were available, the vast majority would take work immediately; being out of work is not their intention.
     Further, it is now admitted by authorities and the press that the looting, murders and rapes were highly exaggerated. Those atrocious events which did occur were carried out by a small number of criminals and societal dregs and we all know the media’s tendency to sensationalize crime events and follow-up with the rest of the story, once it is clear.
     The author concludes “Hurricane Katrina—Another Viewpoint” with: “The welfare state and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages...explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans.” Not even close. The “moral ugliness” is contained within this article: prejudice, bigotry and intolerance, viciously aimed at victims of a natural disaster.