31 August 2005

Got HDTV, Just Need Electricity

Ann Althouse has written on the looting in New Orleans, charges of racism, and the way media presents it all. There's some excellent commentary on these matters beneath Ann's post, and it demonstrates the value of the blogopshere because the sum of the parts is greater than the Dan, Peter, or Tom Shows. Here are some highlights:

Looters were stealing food and water at times, but others were stealing TVs and clothing. Disasters like this usually bring out the very core of a person. For many, it appears, their first impulse was compassionate, even to heroism. For others, their very first consideration was what can I steal?. I think we can (and should) judge here. Such looting is wrong. It's why looters are often shot.

There is no denying the editorial filter that influences the images of looting we see. Equally, however, there is no denying that the vast majority of those looting are black. But, where I sympathize with blacks (and whites) who grasped for food and water, I feel nothing but disgust for those who took this tragic opportunity to loot so indiscriminately!

Yahoo ran one photo of a young white couple swimming along with a loaf of bread and some drinks tucked underarm, in chest-high water, with the caption "couple finds bread and soft drinks in New Orleans grocery store", and another picture of a young black man in dreadlocks, with a loaf of bread underarm, in chest high water, captioned, "man walks with bread after looting New Orleans grocery store." That's your liberal media at work!

This is horrific enough as it is. But for the armed guys running around carjacking people trying to evacuate still, or shooting at cops, or breaking into hospitals and generally being thugs, well, that's what force is for.

Isn't giving a 'pass' to people who loot unneeded items, the same as giving terrorists a pass because of "what they have been through"? Sure, I would hate being photographed doing something so abhorrent, but it wouldn't be the photograph or the circumstances that would make me hate it as much as it would be the mirror it held up to my ego-- showing me and the world exactly who I was deep down.

I was in Manhattan both during 9/11 and the last blackout. In both cases the conditions for civil breakdown were present but the mass of citizens kept it together and rose above the situation. In fact, common courtesy and neighborliness actually increased, strangers helped one another and even made eye contact! This is apparently in contrast to the blackout in the 70's. I firmly believe that the cleaned up, orderly NY of Guliani led in large part to a much lower tolerance of crime and disorder on the part of even the poorest citizens, especially in our recent crisises. Confucius observed somewhere that true order is kept by observation of taboo rather than law; that is laws can and will be broken, but a taboo is so strong that only those beyond the pale will break them.

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