Josef Goebbels would have been happy with much of the mainstream media in the past few weeks since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Goebbels, for those of you too young to know, was Hitler’s propaganda minister. He is credited with creating the concept of The Big Lie. The idea was that if you tell a lie big enough often enough, people will believe it.
The big lie of the Hurricane Katrina story is that it reveals deep and hateful racism in America, that blacks were treated worse than other people because they were black, and that this shows the hypocrisy of this supposedly egalitarian nation.
Here’s the truth. Many black people were harmed by Katrina because of where they lived relative to the path of the hurricane and the location of their neighborhoods below sea level and their refusal or inability to obey the mandatory evacuation orders for New Orleans. This is not racism. This is a matter of geography, weather patterns, and poverty or confusion. It has nothing to do with purposeful mistreatment of blacks by whites. Poverty and confusion, certainly big factors here, were in no sense caused by white mistreatment of blacks unless it was white mistreatment of blacks that ended many decades ago.
As soon as the rescue effort started — and although it was tardy, it was just as tardy for whites and Hispanics as it was for blacks — the main story was whites by the thousands hurrying to New Orleans to rescue blacks from rooftops, from evacuation centers, from hospitals, from old folks’ homes. The rescue effort was totally and utterly colorblind. The idea that blacks in New Orleans were left to suffer while whites in Mississippi or Alabama were treated royally is simply fantasy. Whites suffered too, and yes, they were often helped by blacks.
When the relocations started, blacks by the hundreds and the thousands and the tens of thousands were welcomed into white communities far from New Orleans, into white churches, into white businesses, and also welcomed heartily by black churches, whose work has been magnificent. By the way, Wal-Mart went to relocation centers and offered jobs to anyone who had ever worked in any way for Wal-Mart before. No paperwork or documentation needed and they could start the next day. Wal-Mart, that supposed exploiter of the poor and the colored, was on hand to help before any government agency in Charlotte.
Oh, and also by the way, the nation’s churches and synagogues opened their hearts to the evacuees and the impoverished by Katrina. I did not see too many help centers run by the ACLU.
It is just plain evil to try to divide the nation — especially in time of war — with false cries of racism. The response to Katrina shows just the opposite of racism — a loving, compassionate response to victims without regard to race. One expects Al Sharpton to cry racism. He would not have a job without that phony cause. But for the media, who should know better, to try to paint such a wicked, dishonest picture — well, Goebbels would have been proud.
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