09/18/2005 05:50 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Defending Those Who Know

When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do ~ William Blake

To think that the catastrophe in New Orleans is not about race and class is either truly naïve or simply the latest inversion of reality in which pretense and myth replace honesty and substance.

Apparently some Americans are more than happy to disbelieve their own senses and reason and instead – as good little consumers do – buy the latest trend of fact, the most recent color of truth, and the best packaged version of hope.

In the last five years we have witnessed many such inverted reality conversions, including, for example, the notion that placing a black woman in a top level cabinet position should somehow deflect from her role as part of the Chevron leadership and its involvement in the slaughter of Nigerian villagers.

Perhaps Condi would have made a more timely cameo in New Orleans had a Chevron tanker caught fire. Jane Crow seems to be just as willing as old Jim was.

Is it really that difficult to believe that race and class contributed greatly to the Katrina tragedy? Those that might claim that race and class had nothing to do with this catastrophe might want to revisit a few recent events in American history.

The non-racist, non-classist elections:

During the 2000 election cycle, large numbers of African American citizens in the state of Florida were added to a phony felon list by “accident.” This oddity was proclaimed a "glitch", a "fluke" even, and "no one could have imagined" was trotted out for the spinners’ horse and pony show. Of course the local police stopping black voters in “some areas” for “random” searches was also a glitch, a human miscommunication issue, a blunder someone made at some local precinct perhaps.

Oddly enough the election mess of 2000 occurred in such a way as to benefit one political party over another. In the state of Florida felons cannot vote, and black voters tend to generally vote for Democrats. In the state of Florida, as in most states, most people vote after work and most working class people also vote Democratic.

One law suit by the NAACP and four years should have been enough to fix the felon glitch permanently. We have, after all, mastered nuclear physics. One would think that having an accurate felon list would be a simple task. One can also hope that the human error of non-random, ethnically skewed police selection would have been resolved as well.

The 2004 election demonstrated America’s commitment to voting rights for minorities, well sort of anyway. Cuban Americans in Florida were discharged from the felon list in large numbers, even actual felons. Yet in another non-random glitch, Cuban Americans in Florida tend to vote Republican.

Many African American voters still remained felons even four years later, oddly enough, including some of the same innocent people. But even with documented proof of the RNC’s racist Florida "caging list" many Americans dozed in front of a better choreographed reality, one with a remote control even, so that unwanted knowledge can simply be surfed away.

In Ohio, during this same election cycle, African Americans waited in line for up to 11 hours in order to simply cast their vote, while their counterparts in the wealthier, whiter parts of the state got the quickie vote-and-go service, waiting as little as half an hour to cast their ballot.

Presiding over this large anomaly of non-random selection was Kenneth J. Blackwell, who could never be accused of racism given his own ethnicity.

In America, being deprived of the right to vote, it seems, is not racism or classism, it is glitch-ism and error-ism.

White woman’s weight in political gold:

Terri Schiavo, even in her brain liquefied state, had no problem getting an audience with the President and the GOP leadership, including a house call from Dr. Frist himself, who along with many others witnessed all sorts of miracle-like activities by Ms. Schiavo. Some say she walked around the room, begging for her life, others claimed that she was able to tell humorous stories.

Despite the legal decision of over 10 judges, based on extensive testimony from dozens of medical specialists, and against the wishes of both the court appointed guardian and the husband of this lifeless woman, Congress held an emergency session to pass a law just for Terri. Millionaires and good Christian souls from around the country poured money into “Save Terri” stickers, lawyers, and hired talk show guests.

But six month old Sun Hudson, born to an African American mother who could not continue to pay for her son’s medical care, was put to death without so much as a whimper from anyone. Despite his mother’s wishes to keep him alive, the hospital in question pulled the plug on a child who may have survived with additional treatment. His mother, however, was too poor to pay the hospital and no other hospital would take him. None of the good “Save Terri” souls offered a dime to help save the life of this child, perhaps because a black baby, a poor black baby even, is not worth as much politically as a white woman. Or does such unconscionable hypocrisy occur in non-random glitches as well?

A Moment of Silence:

As governor of Texas, Bush presided over the largest body of executions in state history, any state history even, topping off at 150. It need not bother a soul that some of these walking dead may have not actually been guilty or even mentally competent, or may even had their rights violated by their own attorneys. Texas executions, as approved and delivered, seemed to favor minorities, the mentally retarded, and the poor. Yet another anomaly to avoid, ignore, “not see coming.”

If one were to do even a small analysis of the Bush family doctrine in particular and the Republican policy in general toward minorities and the poor, one would find the height of racism, callousness, even loathing.

Is it pure indifference?

Is it a scheduling issue?

Is this a geographical issue?

The Promise of a Promise of a Promise:

The Bush speech to Katrina survivors was equally as offensive as it was laughable. How can one make promises that have already been broken?

If local workers will be given the opportunity to rebuild their communities, for example, then why have Bechtel and Halliburton been given contracts already?

How can anyone take seriously any project geared toward minorities when the person tapped to head the funding for the project is one of the most racist and opportunistic senior administration officials?

The very same Karl Rove who made it a point to play up election campaigns to the KKK base of the RNC is now to lead the effort to help minorities?

Silence is not an option:

The right wing spin machine will no doubt dub anyone not intoning the official “non-racist” mantra as a “race-baiter.” Yet the very same people using such a label do not seem to realize how racist such jargon is and perhaps they imagine no one else will notice either. To argue that ethnic minorities could be “baited,” as though they were savage beasts only in need of a prodding stick to react, is astonishingly ugly.

Most decent and honest people will realize that anyone who spins “race-baiter” is not only doing so to silence honest discourse, but is also identifying themselves as a racist quite overtly.