Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Katrina Fatigue

Foxessa takes advantage of a New York Times article about post-Katrina documentaries to discuss the phenomena of "Katrina fatigue." I'm reminded of having to read Kierkegaard in a philosophy class. Old Soren is tough sledding to say the least, and the class was restive. The professor asked how many of us thought that Kierkegaard was unimportant and would just as soon move on to something else. Almost everyone in the class raised his or her hand. The professor sat back, crossed his arms, and told that Kierkegaard was important and that he was going to talk about Kierkegaard until we agreed.

Well, damn it, Katrina is important. You can bet that every one of our fellow Americans who lived through it are more fatigued than the rest of us are, but they can't escape it. It may seem odd that a blogger in the Pacific Northwest who has never lived in New Orleans keeps ragging on it. Hell, sometimes it seems odd to me. But what happened in New Orleans has meaning to us all, as does what continues to happen and not happen. 

Katrina represents a complete and abject failure of the decades-long federal policy of paying for a defense establishment at the expense of our own crumbling infrastructure

Katrina represents a complete and abject failure of the philosophy of letting the states handle everything so that wealthy conservatives can give themselves a tax rebate. 

Katrina represents the complete and abject failure of the Army Corps of Engineers, entrusted with damn and levee maintenance all over the country.

Katrina represents a complete and abject failure of the notion that this country is above the problems of class. 

Katrina represents a complete and abject failure of the claim that we have moved beyond the problems of race. 

Above all, Katrina represents a complete and abject failure of the operative definition of freedom in this country, which has devolved to the concept that freedom means acquiring as much as you can and doing whatever you want to with it while avoiding any responsibility for the common welfare.

Katrina also represents an institutional disdain for the history of our country. New Orleans is fantastically important in that regard. a point that one rarely sees mentioned in any article about Katrina. New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in America, filled with architectural treasures. The music you listen to and the recipes you consume likely have roots in New Orleans. It's a part of us whether we know it or not.

Katrina could represent a triumph of local, state, and federal coordination and action. 

Katrina could represent a triumph of leadership.

Katrina could represent a triumph of community, the community of Americans unwilling to permit the loss of a great city.

It's a long way from representing any of those things and it likely never will. It definitely won't happen if we cave into Katrina fatigue and still our voices...

There is some good news...

The Lost Shall Be Found Dept: When you've written as much as Bob Dylan has, you can be expected to forget about a poem or two or three...


Bill said...

There's something wrong with whatever enters the dates of your posts. Yesterday and today the posts have said that it's Sunday.

K. said...

Good catch! I've fixed it.

Scrumpy's Baker said...

Come on, those people were poor. They deserved it, right? The government is only responsible when I am in trouble, not other people, right?

I have been so up on my soap box about politics and our general regression of social thought in this county, it has been keeping me up at night. Where do the compassionate, thoughtful people live in this world? I want to go there.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

so many excellent points which illustrate the reasons continue to PAY ATTENTION to the lessons of katrina.

looking forward to the sneak of the lost manuscript and photos that the new yorker promises and the forthcoming book!!!!! had a good laugh when the article said something like well course bob forgot about some of these, it was the 60s....hey, I forgot what we had for dinner on thursday night when I was talking with a friend earlier today about one of the great restaurants we ate at in nyc.

Renegade Eye said...

The Katrina remarks was one of your best posts.

K. said...

SB: Stay on the soapbox! It can feel a bit exposed there, but be heard!

Mouse, Ren: Thanks so much.

Polly said...

This is a wonderful post! So passionate, so full of life and truth (isn't that what's been missing these last eight years??)
"Brownie" and George Bush should be hung at the gallows for what they ignored and denied.
Shame on the Bush administration. A total bunch of LOSERS! I hope to God they get back what they put out.

Premium T. said...

Renegade Eye: ditto. Citizen K. deserves a greater readership.
(Okay, I admit to a slight bias
seeing that he is my husband....)

Darlene said...

Excellent post, Citizen K. You have succinctly captured the abject failure of the government in it's ineptness.

Just curious - did the class ever agree that Kierkegaard was important?

Gram said...

They still are not fixing the levees the right way. The next big storm and it happens all over again. I know this administration has a very short-term memory, but this is ridiculous!!

K. said...

Good question, Darlene! I kind of doubt it, although we understood what was going better once we watched Bergman's The Seventh Seal. The character of the knight in that movie was inspired by Bergman's reading of Kierkegaard.