Bob Rue, owner of Oriental Rugs on St. Charles Ave in the Garden District of New Orleans, is hiding out in his shop, hoping authorities won't make him evacuate. The words on the front of his shop are meant to warn away looters. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Let's start with the awful stuff first. Katrina exposed our government's inability to perform its most basic function, enabling the people to survive and thrive, has been sabotaged by the ideologues of profit and privilege. Most of us are pissed.
So the right wingers have to deflect accountability for their failure. On one level, that just means Bushco will practice their usual stonewall. But additionally, their intellectual apologists rush to remind us that the real culprit is our underlying, nasty human nature. For conservatives, our main species characteristic is how bad we are. And our proper frame of mind is dread.
Here's Timothy Gorton Ash, of Oxford University and the Hoover Institution, warning today that we should expect to undergo "decivilization" in the coming century:
It is so convenient: if we are all naturally rotten, how can screwing up be anyone's fault? I assume Ash is a Brit, so it is probably not right to call him "un-American," but that sure seems an accurate label for the guy. At our best, this country has thrived on hope in human possibility, on asking the best of each other and getting a lot.
"Nothing to fear but fear itself" -- FDR's first inaugural address; "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." -- JFK Those are the sentiments that have carried this country through crisis, not the doom and gloom hand wringing contemporary conservatives indulge in.
On to some good reporting -- LA Times columnist Steve Lopez is in stricken New Orleans; he's has some suggestions how we might approach disaster that seem more in tune with the better aspects of the national character:
Take a look. Lopez is no polyanna; the column revolves around the theft of his laptop while he was observing the rescue. He reports bigotry and greed but he does not erase hope and possibility.
We can't allow the conservative apostles of doom to trap us in hopelessness. This country can do better than the Bush guys have done on the Gulf Coast.