Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Orwell v. 2005

File this story right next to the one about the CIA selling crack in the ghetto,a missile striking the Pentagon, and Jews staying home from the World Trade Center on September 11:


I can understand why some people would want to peddle a story like this. It gets them a microphone and a camera in their face; it gets their picture in the paper. The attempt is to portray one's own group as victims of a nefarious conspiracy. The effect is to cloud any honest investigation of what actually went wrong.

What I can't understand is why a supposedly reputable news organization like MSNBC would want to give a pulpit to such fringe groups as are peddling these fantasies. Likewise I can't understand why the United States Congress would want to humor such dangerous fantasies.

They do a grave disservice to many of those most harmed by Hurricane Katrina. It absolves those involved from any reflection on their own role during the disaster. It hurts precisely those victimized the most.

Take Spike Lee (please). “I don't find it too far-fetched,” Lee said in a recent television interview, “that they try to displace all the black people out of New Orleans.” Now were I the one interviewing Spike Lee my next question would be a simple one: why? Frankly, statements like these exaggerate the importance of race.

Of course, I haven't conducted in-depth research on the attitudes and motives of the white community of New Orleans. Nevertheless (as Katherine Hepburn tells Humphrey Bogart in "The African Queen"), I feel confident in asserting that white people in New Orleans did not displace black people out of New Orleans. What possible motive would they have for doing so? It's absurd, plain and simple.

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