Monday, September 05, 2005

Melancholy Monday: No, OUTRAGED Monday

I don't have to search very far for inspiration for today's Melancholy Monday post. I cannot think of a more traumatic week. Sure, many will say that September 11th and the weeks following it were unbearable. And, certainly I am not interested in getting into a game of "what week was worse." However, I cannot remember when I felt so horrified in my life.

I have tried to have a "cool" head in this blog, engage people without recriminations or inflammatory rhetoric. And, I was criticized in private for yesterday's blog, which referred to what others were writing, entries that I wholeheartedly agree with. If there was ever a time in my life to show me the limitations of the "fair minded" civil discourse approach that Philosophy encourages, it was this week. Call it what it is: a national failure. Moreover, this failure is the result of the takeover of our government by those interested only in protecting the rich and mighty.

I am ashamed of this country. I am ashamed that we, through a combination of incompetence and cruel selfishness, have left thousands of our citizens to die in the Gulf region. I cannot fathom any excuse for our failure to get water, food, and medical supplies to those trapped in New Orleans. Watch this video of Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard and tell me that we are not an utter embarrassment of a country right now.

I have admired Shakespeare's Sister's blog for months, this entry is particularly admirable. I have admired her courage to call things what they are and speak the truth. I now see myself as an exercise in cowardice, trying to avoid the judgment and wrath of Conservatives out there who have crusaded to redefine and rename everything good and just (that I stand for) into what they perceive is most base. Enough. The "conservative" ideals of this administration, the policies that give tax breaks to the wealthy, and strive to dismantle all of the safety nets and social supports in our goverment, like FEMA are CRIMINAL.

This conservative world view is responsible for thousands of deaths. It makes me sick. It makes me even sicker to watch the pundits start shift the blame of this disaster onto the state and local governments in the Gulf region.

I am digusted by libertarians at this point. I have no capacity to comprehend their selfish and solipsistic worldview, which leaves our vulnerable dying in attics and nursing homes because it is "moral hazard" to have a government provide for its citizens when they find themselves in crisis.

What is even worse than the libertarians, in my book, is the "Christians" who smugly count this natural disaster as due justice for a lawless and licentious city. Even if (which is unfathomable to me) God used this natural disaster to punish or cleanse a city, explain to me how the utter human failures in its aftermath are part of a divine plan. Explain to me why a God, especially a Christian God of love and compassion, would allow babies and the elderly to die for others sins. What explains this evil? If there is a God, why didn't he save this city?

When I entered into my Ancient Philosophy class today, I asked my students how they were doing. What did they think of the aftermath of Katrina? I couldn't fathom jumping into a discussion of Heraclitus without at least acknowledging what was happening. While many of my students were thoughtful and concerned, an equal number were totally ignorant to what was going on. And, among those who were ignorant, their only comments were to reflect on the thug-like criminal behavior of the citizens abandoned in the city.

I wanted to throw up.

The only stories that they shared with me were ones of folks stealing guns to shoot at rescue helicopters. Rather than show me one shred of compassion, they showed me their indignant outrage at the minority of folks in an utterly chaotic situation. I asked then what their news sources were, and yes, you guessed it FOX news. (I am not exaggerating or making this up to lend some sort of emotional force to what I am writing, this is what they said).

And isn't that what they have been taught: use examples of a few bad apples who take advantage of TANF, or Medicare to discredit the entire system. Shit, why don't we then discredit all of the private industry and its operating principles by taking Enron or Worldcom as exemplary for all private industry. I am also sickened that if I express my outrage at their assessment of this tragedy, I will have the Conservative anti-free speech squad mobilizing to muzzle me.

How can anyone, anyone with basic humanity, hold their tongue?

You know, this is not a melancholy monday. I am just too angered to be depressed. The depression will come later, when we hand the Supreme Court over to these same nefarious forces. When we lose our basic right to privacy. And, the depression will come when I realize that the majority of my students didn't even care enough to pay attention to what was happening, nor get involved to stop it.

Note: Only 2 students out of 32, in my Introduction to Philosophy class, knew who John Roberts was.

UPDATE: Listen to this. Read Twisty's reflections on the First Lady's comments.