[Masthead] Fog/Mist ~ 43°F  
High: 56°F ~ Low: 39°F
Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Gray Matter: Tread lightly when assigning blame

Monday, September 19, 2005

In these "post-hurricane" times I face a dilemma.  I am not certain my musings will add to, or subtract from, anything that's already been said. 

On the other hand, going on as though nothing unusual has happened, isn't feasible, either.  I do want to assure those of you who have been kindly concerned, that my Louisiana relatives were far enough from the coast that they were not directly affected.  However, indirect effects are coming with 5,000 displaced "neighbors" moving into their city from the coast.

My major problem arises from statements being made by poorly informed folks who seem compelled to assess blame.  One of  the most blatant was from an individual who wrote, as though it were fact, that "If congress and the administration hadn't looted the flood prevention program for Louisiana in order to back a criminal war, we would not have lost New Orleans and the thousands of deaths it sustained". 

I only hope that train of thought is not widely shared.  I know nothing about the denial of funds to the gulf area programs, but if such a proposal were vetoed, I strongly suspect it was due to the refreshing, but relatively rare, conviction  that simply furnishing funds is not the answer to most of our nation's problems.

Although we seem to prefer to look the other way and hope for the best, the appalling neglect of our infrastructure is surfacing everywhere.  Hurricane Katrina just brought that neglect, through the destruction of wetlands, erosion of barrier islands, etc.  jarringly to our attention.

Anyone who has looked a bit beneath the surface knows that New Orleans, from its earliest history, was built precariously on unsuitable land.  Add to that, the very idea of constructing a major city well below sea level and one realizes it has truly been the so-called "disaster waiting to happen." 

Within the past week I read an account of all this, sounding very much like the assessments we are seeing today from a number of reliable  sources.  At the conclusion, the piece was attributed to  Mark Twain in an assessment he had  made of the city's situation in 1873 !  Obviously there is enough blame to go around and many years over which to spread it.

This leads me to a final conclusion.  If we let our cultural infrastructure deteriorate to the point that we base our "learned" opinions on sound-bytes and sensational headlines, our society is headed for its own destruction, as frightening to contemplate as any Category 5 Hurricane.