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September 06, 2005


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I agree with everything you've said. People are still dying. There will be plenty of time for finger-pointing later. Thanks for posting the links to charitable organizations. I know a lot of people read your blog and I hope some of them will be inspired to help in whatever way they can.

Queen of Ass

Here in Dallas, it's really been a community effort, and the strength and courage of these people is amazing! I wish everyone across the country could witness THIS part of it - our nation's brotherhood.

Busy Mom

We need so much more about the good things that are going on during the wake of this tragedy.


Thank you, MD. For pointing out that now is not the time to be assessing blame. It's the time for us to be helping our fellow citizens. I hope that everyone is doing the best they can.


I can't imagine that people would have the nerve to state how much they contributed to helping out others. You really have to question their motivation for giving. I guess that every bit counts and it's all for a good cause. It just seems so un-Christian!

Thanks for providing your usual interesting perspective.


Last night on McNeil Lehrer they showed a man who refused to leave New Orleans because he was burying his dead neighbors. He just said, "I want to help my neighbors. I didn't know what to do. The nuns told us to bury them." Then he waved the camera away as he continued digging with this bare hands and crying.

This makes the finger pointing and blame game seem even that much more trivial.


I know what you mean. I can't stop watching either. I think I've gone through 3 boxes of tissues in the past week.


The trouble is that we Americans have become fatalists - we shrug and accept the fact that horrible things happen and that it's God's/Nature's/Fate's will. "There was nothing we could have done" is the mantra of our age. We look to the feel-good stories to somehow put things in perspective - there's no greater example of this than the media's focus on the Sport Illustrated supermodel who saved herself by clinging to a tree during the tsunami. And when we get enough of those "feel good" stories, the pain subsides and we go on about our business until the next great tragedy.

As it turns out, there was PLENTY that could have been done; I've ranted about this on my site as have hundreds of others. I don't see this as partisanship, not when such notable Republicans as Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott are openly questioning the country's leadership (and in Lott's case calling for FEMA head Michael Brown's dismissal) in Katrina's wake. This was a failure of government on every conceivable level. Given that we now live in the 9/11 imposed Age of Security, when we've been reassured time and again by our leaders that we've applied the lessons learned from that horrific tragedy, what are we to think? Already we're getting the "We've turned a corner - things are looking brighter!" reports on CNN. That may be, and if so do we collectively roll over and go back to sleep? As we have so often in the past? To those who say that now is not the time to ask such questions, you may be right. The thousands of dead, after all, have eternity to wait for us to answer the simple question that may have been on their lips as the flood waters rolled over them: "Why?"


I agree that Katrina was a failure of government at every level. But at the same time, we're more interested in seeing how we can help out and take part in the healing.

For us, it's not simply watching the news cycle to see when the story turns around. It's about doing everything possible to help those more unfortunate than us. Here in Houston, my church members and my family have been working days and nights to gather food and clothing. We're even opening our houses to take in people. We can blame and point fingers later. Right now, let's save some lives and help our brothers and sisters.


Back during the time of 9/11, the one phrase that I always connected with was "we're all New Yorkers now." I feel the same way now in the wake of Katrina. This is the time when differences must be put aside and we focus ALL our efforts on helping those less fortunate. It's a lesson that we teach our kids and that we need to pay heed to ourselves.


What I can't fathom is the assumption that asking these hard questions equates to not doing one's part to help the victims; I can only speak for myself, but I'm capable of and am doing both. And as for now not being the time to look at the failings of local, state and Federal response efforts - NOAA tags the Atlantic hurricane season as lasting from June through November. And they are not painting a rosy picture: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2005/s2438.htm

JJ Daddy in Savannah's Baby Momma

Interesting concept about tribes. My favorite author, Neal Stephenson, has a way cool near-futuristic version of the tribe thing in his book, The Diamond Age.

The thing that gets me is 9/11 = no warning, Katrina = plenty of warning. What was everyone doing, for God's sake?


I was JUST talking to my husband about this tonight. We were discussing how despite the need to assess the government's absolute failure to protect its citizens, the sheer volume of finger pointing and blaming others is just so wrong. Wouldn't it be nice if people could start ACCEPTING responsibility instead?


As a fellow New Yorker, I wanted to let you know that the finger pointing in the aftermath of Katrina has even affected the NYC mayoral race!!! Have you been following that? Amazing, isn't it?


Here's another site you can go to. It's called Kits for Kidz and though the main focus is on the homeless students of the Chicago Public School system, I think it's a worthwhile cause; especially since Mayor Daley has announced that CPS will be waiving residency requirements so that the children displaced by the flooding can attend school up here. If you buy one of the school kits, you may end up buying one for one of them.


Could I have said it any better? No.


Excellent, Metrodad. Thank you. I'm sorry you lost a dear friend on 9/11.

And thanks for the link to the tribes article, which was just amazing.


I agree - the partisan bickering is frustrating and uncalled for. That said, I have to disagree with your sentiments as well as others that we, as a nation, need to put that aside in order to heal because at the end of the day, sadly, all we have left is partisan bickering. Even the most genuine of efforts to analyze and solve a problem get sucked into the vortex of "he said she said" partisanship. But without it, we have no political discourse and no record to leave future generations of how we struggled to "do the right thing." I don't have faith that politicians will ever stop saying things to serve their own interests, but I do have faith that future generations will be able to wade through their BS arguments in order to get at the heart of the issue...provided parents do their jobs in the way they're supposed to :)

Also, I think that there are fundamental differences in how the left says things to serve their political aims and how the right says things. There's a *huge* difference in values reflected in blaming the Army Corps of Engineers or Bush II's privatization of FEMA, and in blaming the victims of Hurricane Katrina for their fate. While they may both be disingenuous, we have to be careful not to clump them into the same category, if only for posterity's sake.


Thank-you. It is nice to hear someone say that money is not the only way to provide help and relief. Sometimes people get so caught up in being the hero that they belittle other people's contributions by saying that those people are not giving enough because they aren't giving as much as them (the "hero"), when in reality, those people are probably giving more because they are giving all they can without expecting anything (such as recognition as a hero) in return. You have a very good sense of logic, and I really appreciate it.


I think most comparisons between Katrina and 9/11 will prove to be fairly useless in the long run. As JJ Daddy said above, 9/11 was premeditated terrorism whereas the devastation of Katrina was a preventable clusterfuck. But your discussion of the two events is the most germane thing that I've read so far. The true similiariity is our nation's ability to put aside their individual needs and open their hearts to their fellow citizens. Like you, I'm so touched by all the random acts of kindness. Our nation's Judeo-Christian and democratic roots make us truly unique. That's not to say that other nations' citizens don't act the same way in the face of their own disasters. It's just that I've always found that America's citizens will always rise to the occasion. And seeing it not only confirms my belief in our way of life but also brings tears to my eyes.

Great post, MD.


So sorry that you lost your friend during 9/11. I can't even imagine what it must have been like to be in New York at that time. I just wanted to say that I thought that this was such a nice and heartwarming perspective on the terrible tragedy of Katrina.

As an Aussie, my heart goes out to all our friends in America. Although we're much disturbed by the actions of your president, we remain humbly impressed by your individual fortititude. Please know that you have our undying support and best wishes.


MD -- Thanks so much for providing the NYC perspective. I have to admit that I feel a definite difference in my reaction to the two events. With 9/11, there was a healthy dose of anger involved (along with absolute sympathy) since it was a calculated act of war, but with Katrina it's obviously different.

As a teacher, I've been impressed by how my students have responded. I skipped my usual first day routine last week and instead focused exclusively on Katrina, retelling stories I'd read and showing pictures of the devastation, since I figured most of my 8th grade students (Long Beach, CA) were probably only vaguely aware of what was going on.

Their reaction spoke volumes. Unlike most adults you speak to, not a single one of these kids asked why this wasn't prevented or were even concerned when I mentioned some of the criticisms being leveled. Instead -- and I can't tell you how unusual this is -- they asked how they could help, even before I pulled out the Sparkletts bottle I hoped to fill with donations. Three days later, they haven't stopped giving, and I actually have more dollar bills than coins, which is significant since my school is in a low socio-economic area.

I only share this because I think it points out that children sometimes see things as they should be seen, without the filter of politics or the bias of self-interest. A lesson we could all benefit from...

R. Gottleib

Well said, MD. The interesting thing about reading so many people blog about Katrina is seeing all the various responses and perspectives. I thought yours brought a very understanding and humanistic touch to all this chaos. And that link about the tribes was fascinating. Thanks!


Hey, Metro. I'm totally with you. As a new father, I'm trying to find ways to help the kids whose lives were turned upside down by Katrina. Thanks for the Feed the Children link. Here's another worthy cause for kids...



God, i could just kiss you for writing this. So right and exactly the kind of thing I needed to read today. Thank you.


I am cleaning out my closet and my husbands for one of my blog buddies who lost everything...it is so sad, she needs everything; clothes, toiletries...everything!


I put my contribution on that site. I didn't see it as a, "look at how much I gave and aren't I cool and superior," kind of thing. I kinda viewed it as a, "look how much is being done - we're not all a bunch of miserable selfish bastards - we don't have to sit around and armchair quarterback and point the finger at everyone else - things are being done - maybe we can generate some enthusiasm and get some people to get involved - even if we can't fly our 707 full of food to the disaster site like John Travolta - we can do something!" kind of thing. I guess there are those who are doing it for that reason, but it wasn't me. Even if it is for the wrong reasons, it's still money going to help people. By way of analogy, if you've just robbed a bank and during your getaway you run over a wanted serial killer in your 1971 Mustang Mach 1 (complete with racing stripe) - I mean - the money's insured. Even though you've committed a crime and are driving a really ugly car, you probably saved some lives. It's probably a net positive, don't you think? Maybe it's just a glass half full kind of thing. But apalled? I don't know. Not really.

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