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Monday, September 05, 2005


After hurricane Ivan just missed nailing New Orleans last year, Mike Davis (author of Ecology of Fear) wrote this:
The evacuation of New Orleans in the face of Hurricane Ivan looked sinisterly like Strom Thurmond's version of the Rapture. Affluent white people fled the Big Easy in their SUVs, while the old and car-less -- mainly Black -- were left behind in their below-sea-level shotgun shacks and aging tenements to face the watery wrath.

New Orleans had spent decades preparing for inevitable submersion by the storm surge of a class-five hurricane. Civil defense officials conceded they had ten thousand body bags on hand to deal with the worst-case scenario. But no one seemed to have bothered to devise a plan to evacuate the city's poorest or most infirm residents. The day before the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast, New Orlean's daily, the Times-Picayune, ran an alarming story about the "large groupůmostly concentrated in poorer neighborhoods" who wanted to evacuate but couldn't.
Over the last generation, City Hall and its entourage of powerful developers have relentlessly attempted to push the poorest segment of the population -- blamed for the city's high crime rates -- across the Mississippi river. Historic Black public-housing projects have been razed to make room for upper-income townhouses and a Wal-Mart. In other housing projects, residents are routinely evicted for offenses as trivial as their children's curfew violations. The ultimate goal seems to be a tourist theme-park New Orleans -- one big Garden District -- with chronic poverty hidden away in bayous, trailer parks and prisons outside the city limits.
Jonathan at Past Peak points out that several officials are already claiming that New Orleans is "completely destroyed," and I saw on NBC tonight that they intend to forcibly remove anyone trying to stay in his or her house. Jonathan comments:
Yes, it sounds too evil to be true, but we appear to be looking at a deliberate program of ethnic cleansing. Wait and watch. A lot of people with ties to the administration are going to make a ton of money on the contracts to clear and rebuild a Disney-fied version of what was one of the world's great cities.
And while it's not in New Orleans, Halliburton already has its first Katrina contract.