Members of the Louisiana Sheriffs Task Force go on patrol through the streets of the Uptown neighborhood north of downtown New Orleans. Chronicle photo by Michael Macor
Guess they've put down the insurgency, and retaken the city. A San Francisco Chronicle writer, Peter Fimrite, reports from under occupation:
Okay, so you have inexperienced part time troops on patrol in an eerie devastated city; naturally they are a little scared. Maybe they over reacted? After all "there are National Guard, police and Army checkpoints every few blocks. SWAT teams, soldiers and military squads from as far away as Puerto Rico patrol the downtown streets, stopping anyone they see."
No -- the armed posse was a New Orleans police department SWAT team. Fortunately, for Fimrite, the Chronicle had hired its own muscle: a squad of bodyguards led by Chris White, a former Navy SEAL, to protect the house and journalists, "presumably from looters, but also from arrest by police or the military."
I guess the disaster is properly militarized now.
The lawless disorder that makes a military response to disaster necessary is what you get when you fail to provide a civilian response. It is what you get when you fail to provide leadership, rescue, assistance. Militarization is what you need when you treat people as potential brutes to be controlled, as Bush's FEMA has done better than anything else.
People can be approached as potential heroes and heroines who will help themselves and those in need. The national and international outpouring of help, the thousands of medical workers who have flown in, these people show that disaster can evoke in the best in us as well as the worst. The country must get back to knowing "there is nothing to fear but fear itself" or we perish in our own toxic stew.