Sunday, May 27, 2007

When The Levees Broke

This is a movie directed by Spike Lee; he interviews countless people regarding Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The movie has four acts; I watched Acts 3 and 4.

The people interviewed in this movie were very angry- and perhaps rightly so. They experienced a tremendous national disaster that devastated their homes and families. However, I take issue with some of the complaints that they have.

For example, one woman went on and on about having to go through so many steps to prove that she owned her house. Since most of the documentation that she had was destroyed in the hurricane, she had to go to the clerk of court to get proof that she had owned her house, she had to get old utility bills showing that she had paid for utilities for the house, etc. As much as this must be immensely frustrating for her, it is necessary. There are so many people who used Hurricane Katrina as an opportunity to defraud many victims and the government. If the government did not take such steps as listed above to ensure that the rightful owners got their property back, there would be an outrage in the media.

I think that the disaster a whole simply proves the conservative point that the private sector is the group best served to deal with providing social services and relief to disadvantaged people. The United States government, simply by its nature, is so large - and the bureaucracy so bulky and inefficient - that it is almost a given that the government's response to the disaster was slow and cumbersome. The government almost always acts slowly in issues of social services.

I also take issue with the complaints in the movie that so much money was going to Iraq. The reason the response was slow was that government by its own nature struggles to do things efficiently. Our government has had many difficulties in Iraq; it is not as if the government has had no trouble dealing with social concerns in Iraq.

Also, many New Orleans residents commented on the fact that the city would not be the same without black people and their culture. My question is: if a white person had stated that white people were an integral part of New Orleans and that a city without white people would be an abomination, wouldn't there be a social backlash with calls of racism? Does this not once again demonstrate the double standard in our society for what black people can say versus what white people can say?