To give you some idea of the climate in which it could be politically acceptable to use the people of New Orleans as hostages - pawns in some bigger game of corruption played by Bush and his cronies - read the cover story in this month's Harpers, "Still Separate, Still Unequal: America's Educational Apartheid" by Jonathan Kozol. The significant progress made in race relations in the 1960's and 1970's has completely collapsed under the onslaught of Reagan-Bush politics, and that collapse is reflected in the fact that the United States now has two completely separate education systems, one well-funded one for whites, and one much less well-funded one for everybody else. The annual Human Development Report of the United Nations has just come out and states that parts of the United States are as poor as the Third World, and America's black children are twice as likely as white children to die before their first birthday. The way that the people of New Orleans have been treated is just a reflection of how they are treated trying to survive in today's America. The only difference is that the obvious injustice of it all received a little publicity from the journalists down to cover what they thought was a telegenic storm.
If most of the victims weren't black, it simply wouldn't be possible to do what Bush is now doing to New Orleans. I've written about the ethnic cleansing of New Orleans, and some people laugh. Here is a report from the Wall Street Journal on the plans of the white elites of New Orleans for the rebuilding (my emphasis in bold; we all know what he means by 'poor people'):
"The power elite of New Orleans - whether they are still in the city or have moved temporarily to enclaves such as Destin, Fla., and Vail, Colo. - insist the remade city won't simply restore the old order. New Orleans before the flood was burdened by a teeming underclass, substandard schools and a high crime rate. The city has few corporate headquarters.
The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. 'Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically,' he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."
The plan is to use the ethnic cleansing to return the city to Republican party control. Remember these rebuilding plans when you keep hearing how 'uninhabitable' the city will be. Apparently, it will only be uninhabitable for blacks. With all the money that is going to be pouring into the pockets of local bigwigs to realize their grandiose white plans, it should be possible for the government to fund the return of all displaced residents. As Glen Ford states:
"Displacement based on race is a form of genocide, as recognized under the Geneva Conventions. Destruction of a people's culture, by official action or depraved inaction, is an offense against humanity, under international law. New Orleans – the whole city, and its people – is an indispensable component of African American culture and history. It is clear that the displaced people of New Orleans are being outsourced – to everywhere, and nowhere. They are not nowhere people. They are citizens of the United States, which is obligated to right the wrongs of the Bush regime, and its unnatural disaster. Charity is fine. Rights are better. The people of New Orleans have the Right to Return – on Uncle Sam's tab."
It would be a real shame if, on top of all the corruption, negligence, stupidity and malfeasance, the Bush regime also got away with destroying the culture of New Orleans in order to ethnically cleanse it into a Dixieland theme park that votes Republican. The Right of Return is not only for Palestinians!