Saturday, September 03, 2005


(This post is safe to skip unless you enjoy rants, for rant I shall.)

Sri Lanka is offering aid to the survivors of hurricane Katrina. At least twenty other countries are offering aid to these survivors, including Cuba and Venezuela. Other American states have been offering aid, pleading, begging, praying to be allowed to offer aid. Nearly three hundred million dollars have been sent to the American Red Cross by ordinary people of all types.

Nobody knows how many have drowned in the filthy waters of Katrina's wake, how many have died of thirst, of hunger, of the absence of someone who knows how to help. Nobody knows how many have died of gunshot wounds, how many have been raped, how many have just been too tired to stand on tiptoe in their hot attics, in water up to their necks, hoping for aid.

Nobody knows who gave the orders that keeps aid agencies outside New Orleans, though we know that the reason for these orders is in Order itself: the god of rigidity, ranking and property. Let's not spread food and water around freely; people might not leave and others might come back. Chaos. That keeping order will result in neatly ordered tiers of corpses seems like a small price to pay.

Let's not let anyone out of the city on their own, either. That way lies chaos. Decide on a few collecting points and have people gather there for the purpose of being picked up by buses. But where are the collecting points, does anyone know? Do those know who are standing in the heat without water or food? Does the woman with untreated diabetes know? Or the old man in his attic? Or the family with all those crying children? At least there are collecting points, neatly marked in the planning files. So there is Order.

I'm a stupid goddess. The god of Order knows that help must be under control, under one capable director. Otherwise chaos results. It is good to ban aid from entering the ravaged city, good to ban pedestrians from leaving, good to ban other states or countries from helping, because we need one leader, one pyramid of operations, one voice telling us what to do.

And do we hear this voice? What is it telling the suffering people of New Orleans and Louisiana? Is it whispering? Why can't I hear anything? Something?

Wait a minute! I do hear something! Excuses and accusations, lots of spin. Masterful spin! Yes, someone is in charge who knows how to spin. What a relief. If only those pictures from the city would leave my retinas, if those voices of survivors, reporters and doctors in the stinking wrecks of hospitals would be silenced, if I could somehow stop finding more and more evidence of callous, uncaring, unthinking, unplanning greed and cowardice, then I could sleep.

Sleep in my clean bed, in my safe room, far away from those who can't sleep or don't have beds. Sleep like an innocent, like a corpse, like the members of this administration. Sleep like the city of New Orleans will, for months, if not for years. Sleep.