Posted by: Kevin | September 1, 2006

Hurricane Katrina

I watched Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke” last night.  Still can’t decide what to make of it.  Was it over the top?  Did it try too hard to paint African Americans as victims?  Was it a righteous condemnation of the government?  Was it too graphic?  Should I have felt guilty as I watched, because I have been spared that kind of pain?  I don’t know.  Spike Lee did his job well though, because just as thoughts of Katrina begin to fade this indelibly stamps them in my mind.

It left me with one particularly nagging question though.  In all the justified anger at government bungling, insurance company greed and the cruelty of nature, I didn’t see one person saying, “I could have done things differently.”  Maybe it’s all the guilt trips my parents put me through when I was a kid, maybe it’s Catholic guilt, I don’t know.  It’s just that my first question whenever shit happens to me is “where did I fuck up”.  My second question is usually, “who else fucked up?” 

I’m being unfair though, because a lot of the people in that movie did the right thing; they got the hell out of dodge.  Then the got back and the bullshit began.  So many things in this documentary were shocking, but the icing on the cake was the insurance guy how actually justified screwing these people on camera.  How do you go to work if that’s your job?  Hell, I’m a bean counter at a big company and I’d rather drown in diarrhea than have to give someone the news that they’re getting screwed by their insurance company.

So what am I left with?  A sense of loss mostly.  Katrina did more to strip away the myth of America than all the other bullshit that’s gone on since September 11th.  Our utter failure to protect the people of New Orleans means more to me than the slow erosion of our civil liberties or the botched occupation of Iraq.  Where is the limitless industrial might?  Where was the American ingenuity?  Are we just a paper tiger now waiting the Huns and Vandals to come finish us off?  I still say no, but I was a hell of a lot more confident before August 29th, 2005.

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