Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?"Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city." See, and here you thought that tens of thousands of people spent the last few days trapped in the Superdome or the Convention Center without food, water, medical care, electric power, or basic sanitation, in constant fear of violence, surrounded by the unburied corpses of their fellow victims, because they couldn't evacuate. But all this time, they've been there by choice. If they had a Red Cross station distributing fresh water and sandwiches, they'd choose to stay in their fetid, corpse-riddled, life-threatening, lawless swamp of a city indefinitely. You know what those people are like, always sitting around waiting for a handout. Humanitarian aid just encourages them.
- Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.
- The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.
Yes, clearly, it's far better to evacuate Katrina's victims than to leave them in place in New Orleans. But when you can't get them all out right away - and they haven't even been able to finish evacuating the hospitals, much less the lower-priority evacuees - you need to provide aid in place. Immediately, not five days later. To willfully withhold basic life support from tens of thousands of desperate people because you think it will discourage evacuation is - actually, I have no words strong enough for what it is. Unconscionable. Morally depraved. A crime against humanity. Nothing seems strong enough.
Meanwhile, the Administration's lapdogs rush to assure us that none of this is their fault:
[T]he administration's defenders noted that the waist-deep floodwaters -- not a lack of effort by the federal government -- kept relief convoys from arriving to help stranded residents in New Orleans.Yeah. If only the United States had, oh, I don't know, a branch of the military specializing in dangerous amphibious landings. Or, you know, boats. Think what they could have done then. But no, "the greatest country in the world" (as the conservatives never tire of assuring us) is utterly flummoxed by the insurmountable obstacle posed by waist-deep water.
"The problem is not a lack of resources, will or the organization to provide assistance," said James Jay Carafano, a senior research fellow in homeland security at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The problem is how to get it to the tens of thousands of people who need it."
That leaves me much more terrified than anything Osama Bin Laden ever did.
(Update: Superdome evacuations have stopped with thousands of people still stranded - but not before wealthy hotel guests were permitted to jump the line. Via Sisyphus Shrugged.)