Thursday, September 29, 2005

Inhuman, humans

What do "we" do with this knowledge? How do "we" make sense of "our" readiness to believe that thousands of stranded people, mostly black (an "undifferentiated difference" to quote Ruth gilmore) carried out acts reported to include the rape (of women, children, and babies), murder, intimidation, and in a few instances cannibalism.

My first reaction was to refuse this. Not to believe it was possible. And then, I wanted to acknowledge that no one inherently is above acts of desperation, acts of survival, acts of depravity, etc. To say that certain conditions produce unexpected and horrific as well as unexpected and generous behaviors. But then I couldn't, I couldn't really believe that these rapes of "babies" and children and women, and murders were happening with the tacit consent of thousands, THOUSANDS of people standing by and doing nothing. I couldn't believe that.

I know that people survived slavery and the death camps through all kinds of acts. And I couldn't, wouldn't, believe.

It's the standing by and watching. It's five days. It's fear and empathy. A few people, yes. But thousands? Who do you think these people are? To quote Gilmore again, they are the "inhuman human." Those to whom anything can be done, about whom anything can be said -- the abandoned.

Published: September 29, 2005
NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 25 - After the storm came the siege. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, terror from crimes seen and unseen, real and rumored, gripped New Orleans. The fears changed troop deployments, delayed medical evacuations, drove police officers to quit, grounded helicopters. Edwin P. Compass III, the police superintendent, said that tourists - the core of the city's economy - were being robbed and raped on streets that had slid into anarchy.
The mass misery in the city's two unlit and uncooled primary shelters, the convention center and the Superdome, was compounded, officials said, by gangs that were raping women and children.

A month later, a review of the available evidence now shows that some, though not all, of the most alarming stories that coursed through the city appear to be little more than figments of frightened imaginations, the product of chaotic circumstances that included no reliable communications, and perhaps the residue of the longstanding raw relations between some police officers and members of the public. Fear Exceeded Crime's Reality in New Orleans.


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