Friday, January 22, 2010

Political Roundup

Since my family is originally from New Orleans, we've taken something of a keen interest in that city's upcoming mayoral election. My dad, for his part, is furious at Mitch Landrieu for "splitting the white vote," apparently unaware of how astoundingly racist this seems to people not born in the Deep South. Anyway, it turns out, according to the excellent website The Lens, Mitch Landrieu has a commanding lead in the polls in all demographics, including both whites and blacks. Apparently my dad, who believes that white people should play a hegemonic role in determining the future of New Orleans since they're the only people smart enough and responsible enough to make informed decisions, is not only racist, but impervious to reality! Ha! Ha!

Personally, if I could vote in the election, and I admit I don't know a whole hell of a lot about all the candidates, I'd vote for John Georges, since he's pledged to reopen Charity hospital. In case you haven't heard, rather than reopen Charity, which provided free healthcare to citizens of New Orleans before the storm and has since remained closed, LSU is instead going to build a new research hospital in the middle of Mid-City, evicting 200 families from their homes. Criminal, in my mind.

Speaking of criminal and healthcare, the US military has reportedly diverted about a dozen or more planes carrying life-saving medical supplies from France, Brazil, Italy, and Doctors Without Borders from the airport in Port-au-Prince. Several organization have already lodged complaints about the increasing militarization of the relief effort, although at this point it's not really a "relief" effort so much as it is an "occupation."

Media outlets, writes Rebecca Solnit, have not helped the situation by running sensationalized stories about looting. Their "misrepresentation of what goes on in disaster often abets and justifies a second wave of disaster. I’m talking about the treatment of sufferers as criminals, both on the ground and in the news, and the endorsement of a shift of resources from rescue to property patrol." In the real world, she writes, there is usually precious little actual "looting" as such in the wake of natural disasters. "Survivors are almost invariably more altruistic and less attached to their own property, less concerned with the long-term questions of acquisition, status, wealth, and security, than just about anyone not in such situations imagines possible." What is portrayed in the media as larcenous behavior, is generally actually people scavenging for life-saving supplies in an environment where all infrastructure has ceased to exist.

But that's all depressing as hell. I'll try to end this post on a positive note:

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