Sunday, September 25, 2005

True Character

In a recent comment Billy passed along a link to this bit of ugliness. It reminded me of something I heard the other morning when I was flipping through radio dial and landed on a local fundamentalist Christian talk show. They were lamenting the "poisoning of our cities" by "demonic gang members" from New Orleans. Eventually they conceded that there were, in fact, some "decent folks" from New Orleans who should be treated with respect. I'm not sure how one distinguishes the demonic gang members from the decent folks, but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the color of their skin.

Disasters have a way of exposing peoples true character. Shortly after Katrina I talked about how wonderful people have been. Folks from all over have stepped up, putting aside their everyday concerns, and doing their best to help out in whatever way possible.

And yet there are some people, who have the exact opposite response, who choose this exact moment to indulge their basest instincts, to vent a bit of racist nastiness. Sometimes it's veiled. Sometimes it's blatant. I don't get it. And I've seen it in so many places - from politicians who can't quite hide their indifference, to the Gretna cops who wouldn't let folks over the bridge, to ignorant talk show callers, to diehard bigots from my own hometown talking about how they hope this "cleans up the city" once and for all.

When they say these things they're talking about my neighbors, good people. And it makes my blood boil.

1 comment:

  1. A cab driver in New York City asked me this weekend if I would confirm that people in New Orleans practiced "The Voodoo" and if Louisiana was (as he suspected) a "Satanic state." I am not lying.

    He then went on to comment that it "troubled him" to see that Louisianians were not praying and calling out to God during their time of need because "during 9/11, people had a connection with God."

    The comments are racist, classist, regionalist, but most of all, they are based in ignorance.

    (Also, total aside, why do people compare this with 9/11?)

    Rather than get out of the cab, I tried to use this as an opportunity to present a different perspective. Sadly, I don't think it sunk in for this man.

    Similarly, if another person says something so moronic as "What did the people of New Orleans do to deserve this?" I will scream. It is said (I hope) as a form of sympathy, but its inference is that of blame and accusation.

    No one deserves this. God has very little to do with blaming or punishing people, in my opinion. I wish people would stick to concrete things they can do to help rather than point fingers and air out feelings regarding something they know nothing about. Otherwise, if these folks are so religious, why don't they just shut their mouths and pray?