Sunday, September 04, 2005

And Another Thing

Let's for a minute look straight on at the fact of the people in New Orleans who actually are committing acts of dreadful violence, against each other, their fellow citizens and/or the rescue personnel trying to save them. (NB: New Orleans police are in a separate category from these, constituting as they do an unofficial death squad and having been widely witnessed participating in the looting themselves; combat between armed citizens and Nawlins Filth might almost come under the Rules of War, Urban Guerilla Edition.)

So yes. There are, if widespread reports are true, a number of people committing rape, beatings and murder in New Orleans. Rumor has it that many of these are convicted criminals, who were haphazardly released from the jails because no more provision had been made for their evacuation than for any of the other souls deemed drownable in the emergency preparedness plan. This appears not to be the case; though depending on who you believe, a massive riot at Orleans Parish Prison either did or did not take place during the prison evacuation, which interestingly was apparently well underway by Wednesday night. (Is there anyone who wasn't escorted out of there before the poor grandmothers outside the Convention Center?)

So absent escaped prisoners, we seem to have the unavoidable fact of a bunch of civilians, numbers unknown, on the loose in the ruined city committing horrible crimes. Now, I'm not for a minute going to excuse those crimes. They are inexcusable. But I'm damned if I'm going to shy away from trying to understand them.

And you know, it's really not that hard. You take, for example, a bunch of young, impoverished black men who've spent their lives receiving the message from all sides that society values them approximately as much as dirt. Who've grown up learning the intricacies of brutality direct from the most corrupt, vicious police force you could hope to run for your life from down a back alley in the Ninth Ward. Then you put them in a situation where society finally just comes right out and says, 'Hey yo, dirt! FUCK YOU! Stay there and die!' Where the official instructions are 'Go to this central location and wait days for nonexistent buses without food, water or support of any kind, in conditions of unimaginable, inhuman hellishness, while your grandmother and your baby son die together in a wheelchair next to you.' Where food and water manifestly exist, within arm's and a baseball bat's reach, and they've been told--by those same instructive cops--they'll be jailed or worse, zero-tolerance, if they try to get some for their families and friends.

And you're surprised when they go mental? You're surprised when they feel the rules of society weren't exactly constructed with their comfort in mind, so maybe they'll just give the rules a big old miss? You are surprised when they don't greet the advent of armed National Guardsmen, troops sent in with the loud and clear mandate of maintaining order, not rescuing victims, with open arms and tears of grateful welcome?

Newsflash: when you fuck people up, the people duly become fucked up. No one is looking to justify crimes of violence, but it's incumbent on us to understand their roots if we hope to eliminate them. These criminals didn't just happen. They were made. And they were made, over the course of years and in the last few days, by the same corrupt, corrupting social conditions and actors that made this whole edifying spectacle the fathomless hell-visitation it's turned out to be. So please would the endless shocked liberal wittering about people 'not rising to the occasion' of the crisis just fucking stop? Get. A. Fucking. Analysis.

* * * * *

Now it's time to take a restorative mental-health break and attempt to focus on something other than New Orleans. Perhaps some light televisual entertainment? Ooh look, I'm in luck: TNT has returned to its longstanding policy of showing 'The Shawshank Redemption' to the exclusion of all other programming ever. I mean, who can ever get enough of that kind of spiritual uplift? However, bloggy friends, I'm in a Feel-Good Inspiration quandary--TBS is showing 'Pay It Forward' at the same time! How on earth to decide which load of Turner-sponsored unbearable mawktastic horseshite to shovel into my forebrain tonight?

I know, I'll watch episodes of 'The Shield' on DVD. That seems a bit more a propos.

Update: Silly, silly me. 'Resident Evil' is on SciFi. We have a winner.

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