It seemed obvious to me that it was the article that didn’t belong.
What article? “Lots of blame for delay to go around” written by Henry Precht in the September 8th Bridgton News.
That edition’s front page carried articles about Arden Stitzell and Dr. Monique Kramer. We learned that Arden is a displaced Tulane University student who is eager to go back to New Orleans and help any way she can. Dr. Kramer, on the other hand, was part of an effort to empty animal shelters in Georgia so that animals from the Katrina-effected areas would have a place to be. Bravo to the two of them! And I’m sure that there are others in this area that also made significant contributions immediately and others who will before long.
That’s why I suggest that Mr. Precht’s article is out of place. His first response to the disaster is to blame someone for it. He finds no room for any expression of compassion. His entire intent is to pin the blame for Katrina on someone and, as we have come to expect from Mr. Precht, the culprit has to be George Bush. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 13% of the people polled share Mr. Precht’s opinion. Obviously his slant is an unpopular one to just about everyone!
You’d think that the President would have better things to do than to send hurricanes into the Gulf Coast! Just kidding, even Mr. Precht won’t go quite that far!
But no question, according to Mr. Precht, most of what happened to the Gulf Coast is the President’s fault. After all, the President knew that global warming is the cause of all the hurricanes and has done nothing about it. Wrong. The impact of global warming is highly debatable.
Maybe the President is listening to Roger Pielke Jr (Director of the University of Colorado’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research). Mr. Pielke has done extensive research on the damage caused by hurricanes that have affected the US since 1900. He recently told the Rocky Mountain News: “I don’t think you could find any hurricane scientist that would be willing to make the statement that the hurricanes of last year or Katrina are caused by global warming.”
Next we learn that insufficient funds were sent to New Orleans to protect them from a possible hurricane. But the levees were in place. They weren’t underfunded. They were designed to withstand a Category Three storm. Are you suggesting, Mr. Precht, that President Bush knew that a Category Five storm was coming and wouldn’t send the money to build better levees? In this country the local and state governments have a say in what’s done in their neighborhoods. If we can have the Big Dig in Boston they certainly had a chance at the Big Levee in New Orleans if they wanted it.
And then as expected Mr. Precht wanders into familiar territory connecting the Katrina situation to our efforts to bring freedom to the Iraqi people. This time he informs us that our Iraq efforts slowed down our military’s response in the Gulf Coast. Sorry, that just isn’t so. The head of the National Guard (Lt. General Steve Blum) said he had 40,000 guardsmen ready to go to the Gulf Coast immediately and could get another 40,000 if needed. We also had several large naval ships in the area that could have desalinized water and provided beds for the needy.
The most appalling part of Mr. Precht’s attempt to place blame was his use of the race card. To suggest that because the blacks and poor don’t traditionally vote Republican caused the President to let them suffer is preposterous. Please, Mr. Precht, you should be ashamed to even suggest such a thing!
I think that the days ahead will show that the majority of the people in this country are good-hearted and will rally to help where they can. Instead of waiting for the government to take care of things people have stepped up and met needs where they could. Someone’s homeless? Curt Schilling of the Red Sox takes people into his home. People need to be evacuated? Al Gore sent a bus down to bring some out. Short of supplies? Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers sent a plane load. The list of these types of grassroots actions is enormous and continues to grow.
Mr. Precht, it’s way too early to be even thinking about placing blame. Now is the time to encourage the relief effort and help where you can.
Let me close with a quote from Tony Snow: “In the manner of New Yorkers after Sept. 11, the folks who form our national heart and soul will bury the dead, care for the living and build upon ruined soil the foundations of a revived civilization – chastened by the big storm, educated by the failures of a culture that spawned looters and cheats, and inspired by the opportunity to say to the large and deadly storm, “Nice try, but you picked on the wrong country.”
( Appeared in the Bridgton News – September 15, 2005 )