Friday, September 09, 2005

Also Also on Katrina

I can't remember how I came by Also Also. Whatever it was must have been good, because I grabbed it for the aggregator and have been looking at it for several months.

Also Also, a collaborative project between two who have not met, who do not share the same political persuasion, but who find themselves in the maddening position of agreeing with each other on a regular basis.

Torrid comes from the left and Zap from the right, but our whole purpose is to try to forget those broad political positionings and emphasize the shared experience--or at least to discuss our dissimilar ones in a civil and useful manner. [From the first post last December.]

This morning they point to a column in the Oregonian by Steve Duin, United we surf, divided we drown.
Love that title.

Also Also comments...

...I think it's wise to start thinking about the larger pictures. What did the disaster and its response say about us as a nation? What did it tell us about our prevailing views of government, and how did we react as people to the suffering and burgeoning outrage? How should we view other threats to our security and well being, in light of Katrina? What role did our media play, and was it an awakening of conscience or simply a nose for an obvious story? Some of the stories have been good, and obviously many others have not.

In the Oregonian this morning I realized that some folks are beginning to think along those lines, others have been thinking that way even before the hurricane--while still others have seemingly crawled even further into their confining boxes...'s not the horrible fact checking or the narrowly twisted arguments that bug me (for now), it's the immoral equivalency argument: because mistakes may likely have been made at ALL levels of government, the top layer and ultimately the person whereupon the buck stops are somehow exonerated from real criticism. When somebody starts a grill by dousing it in gasoline and lighting it, minimizing responsibility by blaming the person who left the propane on is extraordinarily weak. There's no shortage of blaming in Duin's column, it's true. But notice that he is not trying to distract from highlighting other parties who may share the blame; he's recognizing that in the end, this is less about a poor response to a major disaster, and more about the entire culture of government and how it prioritizes its responsibilities.

This is my kind of talking. I just hate it when someone goes crashing into a debate with some preconceived notion of where it should go. That is not a debate. That is not a discussion. That is nothing more than a yelling match.

I'm yelling myself, but more like a referee yelling at the contestants to quit fighting because the bell has rung. The round is over, folks. But the rest of the match is yet to come. Get a grip. Quit blaming and get busy trying to figure out what's gonna happen next. Mr. Duin frames the question well:

"And if we can't get this right, how are we going to handle a dirty bomb?"

Americans are still bitterly divided over whether what's at stake in Iraq is worth the toll in human lives. As the bodies are pulled from thediseased waters of New Orleans in the coming weeks, we'll find out whether this country believes those fatalities are the price you pay to maintain an anorexic bureaucracy that exists to serve the rich and privileged, rather than to protect and inspire the destitute.

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