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September 7, 2005

An Unnatural Disaster

A most unsettling analysis of the events in New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina. For me the looting was not all that unnatural if you consider that some of the "looting" was really people looking for food, water and emeregency supplies. On the other hand, the shooting at rescuers made no sense at all. New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin explained it by saying that New Orleans had a very large population of heroin addicts. Even so, the events in New Orleans were not what I would expect of Americans whom I consider self reliant and blessed with lots of "Yankee ingenuity."

Now I have read a most unsettling analysis of the fundamental causes of the criminal behavior in New Orleans:

An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State
by Robert Tracinski, Editor
The Intellectual Activist

An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State

It took four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't blame them, because it also took me four long days to figure out what was going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.

If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city's infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.

Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists—myself included—did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.

But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.


Denny Schlesinger
Caracas - Venezuela

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