Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Why did the snipers, snipe?

Michael Neumann says it could have been to destroy the image that the early charade of helicopters pathetically picking up dying, critically ill hospice and hospital patients while leaving thousands of formerly well people who needed just as much help stranded in an environment that threatened their life.


What actually happened? The rescue professionals found themselves utterly incapable of saving everyone. As all their training requires, they decided to practice that favorite of hospital shows, triage. Normally, triage means saving the very worst off first, and hoping to save the others later. In this case, it turned out to mean leaving the others die, and saving some of the very worst off: there were likely others, dying in attics, unknown and unheard, just as badly off. It meant saving, for instance, critically ill hospital patients, people whose condition and location were known, and who had to be among the worst off. The rescuers workers could feel they were doing good, but their efforts were not solving the problem. That you can't make a serious attempt to help 80,000 victims with a few helicopters, winching up one person at a time, this was nothing the rescuers could affect; it was not worth thinking about.

But the other people, the ones the helicopters had to pass over, the abandoned, I'll bet they were thinking about it. Maybe - oh, very likely - they were wondering what to do.

So, again, what actually happened? Because there was shooting, the hospital patients could not be evacuated. Though the efforts of the rescuers were heroic, the scale of the rescue was pathetic, and on the way to becoming more pathetic still. One thing, I think, was certain and obvious. The people who really could help, the Federal Government and Bush's bureaucrats, at least some of those people with their formal requests and their triage procedures and their professionalism, and some of the rich, some of the powerful - these people wanted the helicopter evacuations to work. This half-ass effort was their only demonstration of compassionate competence. If the rescues failed, those responsible would have nothing, not one little bit of success, to show the world. There would be no containing the outrage, no damage control. The humanitarian disaster would produce a political disaster.

Now suppose you were a pissed-off thug living in filthy water, with the dead floating by, with crying, dying, frightened, hopeless victims all around you. You might fire on a helicopter just to make it clear that being left to rot was not acceptable. Or, if you were calm enough to think things through, you might ask yourself: what leverage do I have? What do those who have power over thousands of helicopters and rescue craft, over hundreds of thousands of rescuers - those smug assholes asleep at the wheel - what do they want that I can deny them?

Just one thing, to me anyway, comes to mind: the snipers could deny Bush and his minions their face-saving operation, their little bit of success, their triage. The federal authorities would do anything to save some people. They would even get off their asses and send in troops, massive military convoys, not fast, because it was too late for that, but finally. And with those convoys would come - this too was clear, wasn't it? - massive aid, massive rescues, a massive effort to save, not a few victims, not the cosmetic cases, but everyone. Or at least, from the standpoint of an ignored victim, blocking the helicopter evacuations was the only thing that might bring this result. If there was anything any lone thug up to his knees in filthy water could do, this would be it. Let the helicopter evacuations proceed, useful to a very few, and what could reasonably be expected? That real massive help would take much longer to come, because there would be less outrage, less desperation, from the comfortable people deciding who should live or die.
The choice of the Bush administration was to save a few, to keep their own peculiar sense of proportion: moving heaven and earth to kill Arabs is one thing, moving heaven and earth to save a bunch of welfare cases is quite another.


Do you think that Neumann is far off the mark on the reasonings of the laggard relief rescue effort for New Orleans? Food water, and porta-potties couldn't be delivered to the Superdome or the Convention Center for 4 days? Bodies couldn't be collected for 4 days endangering the health of the masses of people in those locations? Do you really think that a compassionate government would allow those conditions to occur, a government with the resources that the US government still has even though it has wasted so much on killing people in the Middle East?

Then you were not visiting forums where the Karl Rove talking points people were on the day that the hurricane struck. The Rovians were laughing with glee and unsuppressed hatred at the people of New Orleans. I was visiting mixed forums aghast at the Rove repeaters that were chortling about the masses of poor who would die.

This was before 1 loaf of bread was looted. Before one shot fired!

Before the now discredited rumors of rape and murder of children in the Superdome and Convention center.

This was just them and their hatred of the poor of the inner cities.

I know Bush's right hand man feels this way. I suspect he does too.

And whether or not New Orleans is ever rebuilt where it is or on higher ground, the crushing lack of help, did it's job, to make the people of New Orleans accept the horrible Dispora of their people to places where racism and hypercritism will help quell their spirits, which is the only way to advance the worker slavery so desired by the neocons of the world. Some articles claim that the poor have to be brought back to work the oil fields and the kitchens in the area. I hope that, by now, that their authors got the message of bringing the Mexican army in to help with the rescue. Not one American job is safe.

Another explanation for the few shots near rescue units that happened may come from a well known singer in the area,Charmaine Neville, who says the people in her area who shot only shot to try to attract attention of passing rescuers thinking that possibly they just weren't being seen. The shots she knew of seems from what she said to be just "we are here, please help" shots and were never intended to threaten airships or people on board them. Maybe that was the reasoning for all of them.

The effect seems to have been though as Neumann surmised above. The pathetic rescue was curtailed so the large scale rescue had to begin. Many people might owe their lives to the snipers.

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