Cap Against Race Affs—UMich 2013

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Root Cause

Racism is perpetuated by right-wing capitalist policy that cuts social aid—Katrina proves

Reed 05 (Adolph L., professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, “The Real Divide”, The Progressive, November 2005,

Everyone who reads The Progressive will know that the horror that has occurred in New Orleans was entirely preventable. For years, the New Orleans Times-Picayune annually had punctuated the hurricane season’s arrival with detailed articles warning that the levee system needed shoring up and quite possibly would not survive a category 4 or strong category 3 storm. As many readers know, similar articles in major newspapers and magazines around the country at one time or another had reported on the city’s precarious situation and described how much of it could be inundated in case of a storm-induced levee breach. Many will know also that in 2001 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) listed a major hurricane in New Orleans as one of the three most likely disasters in the United States. Most readers, therefore, will also know that when George W. Bush offered as an explanation for his continuing inaction nearly three days after the city began filling with water that no one could have anticipated that the levee would break, he was a lying sack of shit. But he was worse than that. He was an active agent in bringing this catastrophe about. Most Progressive readers will know already that the Bush Administration last year slashed funding for the levee project, in part to feed the war on Iraq. The cuts brought work on the project nearly to a standstill. The city of New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had all emphasized the imminent danger. Their entreaties fell on deaf ears; in fact, the Administration scuttled a Corps of Engineers study of how to protect the city. And this is not even to consider how Bush’s wetlands policy made New Orleans more vulnerable by speeding erosion. Bush finally proclaimed that he takes responsibility. Well, Mable and Salvatore Mangano, operators of St. Rita’s nursing home in St. Bernard Parish, were indicted for negligent homicide because thirty-four people died in their facility after the Manganos failed to evacuate them. Bush also should be indicted. Self-important nincompoop Michael Brown, the abominable former FEMA director and failed horse show lawyer, should be in the dock with him, as should Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary. They should spend the rest of their lives in jail. Of course, that won’t happen. That’s not the way things work in the United States. Bush, after all, was already a mass murderer in Iraq, to the tune of perhaps 100,000 Iraqi civilians and more than 1,900 American soldiers. But it’s considered over the top or politically irresponsible to say so plainly. In any official investigation of Katrina, impeachment for Bush and criminal trials for him, Brown, and Chertoff will never surface as a consideration. The investigation will no doubt focus in flamboyant meticulousness on who knew what when. There will be much back and forth about which agency or branch of government was responsible for which actions or inactions.The federal government’s unconscionable delay in response will be explained as an unfortunate circumstance, a concatenation of mistakes and miscommunications, and perhaps some incompetence. Maybe Brown will become a symbolic fall guy. Not that he’ll do any time, as he probably will follow his predecessor at FEMA and former college buddy Joseph Allbaugh into a lucrative lobbying/consulting career. I seriously doubt there will be any consideration of the role that the Bush Administration’s systematic hostility to government’s functions played in bringing about this catastrophe in the first place. That’s largely because Democratic liberals for the last twenty-five years have aided and abetted the right in shrinking and privatizing public functions. As Paul Krugman noted in The New York Times and Michael Parenti pointed out in Z, the travesty in New Orleans is the expression of the right’s essential contempt for any public institutions, for the idea of the public. Going back to Reagan, they’ve exhibited a thug’s approach to government. Remember how Reagan opened up the Department of Housing and Urban Development to wanton and rapacious plunder by cronies? They’ve made a regular practice of appointing agency and department heads who were on record as enemies of the departments and their functions, with a mandate to gut them. Parking utterly unqualified hacks and cronies in five of the eight senior-most posts in FEMA shows how flagrant and unmitigated their contempt for public responsibility actually is. The fact that Bush, Brown, and Chertoff sat on their hands for three days after word that the levee had burst was probably not the result of active malice. Their basic view of the world prevents them from recognizing the people who were imperiled on the Gulf Coast as forms of life equivalent to their own. Bush said as much when he could notice only Trent Lott’s fine old house as a casualty of the storm and reassured us all that he’d be sitting on Lott’s great porch again soon, when the only image of New Orleans he could muster was a nostalgic, loutish frat boy’s. And they genuinely do not believe that government can or should play an active role in protecting the general public in any way, other than by funding the police or invading another country. The Democrats’ critique of the Bush Administration will be wonkish and abstruse. They will cast as a problem of inadequate management what is fundamentally the product of a combined commitment to vicious, reactionary ideologies and plunder. They will give us at best a replay of their lame attempt at health care reform, which from the outset defined single-payer—the only adequate option, and the only one with any support—as “off the table,” primarily because of their commitments to the insurance industry and fear of seeming too different from the Republicans.

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