Feature

Katrina

What’s race got to do with it?

America deserves better than this, said Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe. For nearly three weeks now, Jesse Jackson and the nation's race hustlers have been peddling the notion that the government was too slow to respond to Hurricane Katrina simply because most of the victims were black. A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that two-thirds of black Americans believe this 'œsickening slander''”and why wouldn't they? The media has repeated it day after day, 'œnot in the spirit of constructive criticism, but to inflame racial bitterness toward American society generally and toward the Bush administration in particular.' Most of the people stranded in New Orleans were indeed black, but that's because two-thirds of the city's residents are black. And if America is a racist nation, why then have Americans given nearly $1 billion in charitable donations to the hurricane's victims? With this unprecedented outpouring of generosity, Americans are proving once again 'œthat racism is dead as a force in mainstream American life.'

Were it only so, said Marilou Johanek in The Toledo Blade. The kind of racism that left so many poor African-Americans stranded for days in New Orleans wasn't the overt hatred of old. 'œWhat left them to their own sparse devices was elitism.' Bush, the trust-fund baby who was able to 'œplay at life until age 40,' cannot possibly relate to people who have no cars and who live check to check. As president, he has dedicated himself to improving the lot of 'œthe corporate money changers' and the wealthiest families. The number of Americans living in poverty, meanwhile, has increased every year of the Bush presidency, and now totals a shameful 37 million. No wonder Bush forgot to rescue all those people trapped in the flooded city'”he never even knew they existed.

Richard Cohen

The Washington Post

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