Saturday, September 01, 2007

In which a bishop lays into a king (well, a President...)


AP Photo

Though I'm an Episcopalian Christian, I'm also a normal individualistic resident of the contemporary United States: I don't usually expect to get my moral guidance from the clergy -- they just get a hearing, as do other moral exemplars.

So I'm moved to read the challenge Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana laid down to our ostensibly pious chief executive on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina:

Recognizing our vulnerability, not to terrorism, but to the deadly force of severe weather, I would like to ask the President how he plans to clearly demonstrate his calculation of our people’s worth and his government’s commitment to our safety? The question is one that Providence has put to this President, and it is one of those tests all human beings dread – the kind that determines who you really are....

We already know who faith-based America has proven to be. These volunteers have not sacrificed for the “safe” above-sea-level neighborhoods or the economically secure residents of this city. They have not given their time, talent, and hard-earned dollars to the recovery of communities that rest securely on higher ground.

The volunteers of this country are still coming in larger numbers than ever to help heal the lives of their fellow Americans – the same vulnerable Americans we saw trapped, suffering and dying on our televisions two years ago this week. And those “looters,” “those people down there” as the President has called us, are proving to be some of the most courageous and resilient citizens of this land....

It means, Mr. President, that a huge number of Americans love their neighbor as themselves. Not in words alone but in actions. This segment of our society, a segment whose values you claim to represent and share, has already cast its vote in the referendum on New Orleans. We clearly do not believe any of New Orleans or its people are dispensable or undesirable. We stand together in our fight to recognize and cherish the dignity and worth of every citizen of this city, and we believe how the citizens of this city are treated says who we really are as a nation. ...

We can be reconciled, Mr. President. New Orleanians are a long-suffering and forgiving people. But to be so you must show us that you see and value our humanity before it is too late.

Emphasis mine. The full text of the statement is at this link.

Via a comment at The Wounded Bird -- Grandmere Mimi's digs -- where she also shares her own Katrina experience.

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