Hurricane Katrina: Blaming the Victims
- 1 Homeland Security & FEMA: Chertoff & Brown
- 2 Congress: Santorum & Kyl
- 3 Divine Reminders: God's punishment?
- 4 Former First Lady Bush: Evacuees in Houston
- 5 Racial Profiling
- 6 Photographs
- 7 Related SourceWatch Resources: Hurricane Katrina: List of related pages
- 8 External links
Homeland Security & FEMA: Chertoff & Brown
"The public did not learn that the levee breach meant New Orleans would drown, but we learned that our gas prices would go up. We did not learn that the breaches guaranteed a catastrophic death toll, but we heard that losing the casino tax revenue would be devastating.
"The people who remained in the city were referred to as looters more often than victims. Instead of pondering why there was no emergency evacuation for those without means, the [news] anchors pontificated about why people would be so foolish and stubborn as to stay." 
On September 1, 2005, Chertoff said on NBC's Today program:
- "The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster, ... Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."
- "Well, I think the death toll may go into the thousands. And unfortunately, that's going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the evacuation warnings. And I don't make judgments about why people choose not to evacuate.
- "But, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. And to find people still there is just heart wrenching to me because the mayor did everything he could to get them out of there. And so we've got to figure out some way to convince people that when evacuation warnings go out, it's for their own good."
However, it was reported on August 27, 2005, with the information then at hand, New Orleans' Mayor C. Ray Nagin had already expressed concern about those who could not evacuate before the hurricane struck:
- "Making matters worse, at least 100,000 people in the city lack the transportation to get out of town. Nagin said the Superdome might be used as a shelter of last resort for people who have no cars, with city bus pick-up points around New Orleans."
On September 2, 2005, "Brian Wolshon, an engineering professor at Louisiana State University who served as a consultant on the state's evacuation plan, said little attention was paid to moving out New Orleans's 'low-mobility' population - the elderly, the infirm and the poor without cars or other means of fleeing the city, about 100,000 people."
Congress: Santorum & Kyl
Senator Rick Santorum, while "criticizing the government's emergency response to hurricane victims" on September 4, 2005, was "also criticizing the ones who chose to ride out the storm." --Video, WTAE-TV CH 4 (ABC) Pittsburgh.
- "I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."
Arizona talk show host Barry Young was "on the air with U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl talking about the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina about the exact moment the Big Easy was drowning under 20 feet of water. Young was in favor of a strong national response to help the disaster-stricken area, ... 
- Kyl: "Because the question is if people know year after year after year a natural disaster occurs in a particular place and people continue to build there and want to live there, should they bear the responsibility of buying insurance or should everyone else bear the responsibility?"
Divine Reminders: God's punishment?
A Reuters story reported that some Christian fundamentalists were interpreting the devastating impact on New Orleans as God's retribution on a sinful city.
Michael Marcavage, the director of the Philadelphia-based group Repent America said "we must not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long. May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits." 
One participant in an online discussion on the Christian Broadcasting Network website attributed the hurricane to U.S. support for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza settlements. "Whenever this country encourages Israel to give up any part of their rightful God-given land we have suffered the consequences," they wrote. 
"Rick Scarborough of Vision America and the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration has stepped up to the plate, blaming Katrina on gay marriage, man-on-horse sex, and Israel for evacuating a portion of the Messiah's planned landing strip," Max Blumenthal reported September 5, 2005, in the Huffington Post.
- On his September 12, 2005, Christian Broadcasting Network 700 Club program, Pat Robertson, "founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former Republican presidential candidate, linked Hurricane Katrina and terrorist attacks to legalized abortion." Additionally, on his September 1, 2005, broadcast, Robertson said that President Bush's Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, Jr. "can 'be thankful that a tragedy has brought him some good,' inasmuch as Democratic senators may be less likely to question him aggressively." 
- On the September 9, 2005, broadcast of the Trinity Broadcasting Network's International Intelligence Briefing, Hal Lindsey said "It seems clear that the prophetic times I have been expecting for decades have finally arrived. And even worse, it appears that the judgment of America has begun." 
- "On the September 12  broadcast of his BreakPoint radio program, former Nixon special counsel-turned-Christian radio commentator Charles Colson speculated that God allowed Hurricane Katrina as a reminder to the United States of the importance of winning the 'war on terror'." 
Former First Lady Bush: Evacuees in Houston
In a fine example of the prejudice inherent within privilege, First Mom and Former First Lady Barbara Bush, while "[a]ccompanying her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston," said September 5, 2005, "referring to the poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, 'This is working very well for them.'"
- "In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: 'Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to Houston.
- "Then she added: 'What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.
- "'And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.'"
- "Under the circumstances, to say, as Steve Sailer does, that African Americans 'tend to possess poorer native judgment than members of better-educated groups,' and 'need stricter moral guidance from society' does not seem to me very outrageous." --John Derbyshire, "Justice and Guidance," National Review, September 4, 2005.
- Associated Press photos can be viewed on The Times-Picayune website.
- Quick Facts: New Orleans, U.S. Census Bureau: Before Katrina, 28% of City of New Orleans Lived in Poverty.
- "Katrina's Ground Zero victims unlike rest of America, Census analysis shows," Associated Press (ABC 2 News), September 4, 2005: 20% of Victims Had No Cars to Evacuate. According to the Associated Press, "Two in 10 households in the disaster area had no car, compared with 1 in 10 in nationwide."
Articles & Commentary
- "This Is The Storm New Orleans Has Feared These Many Years," KOMOTV.com (Seattle, Tacoma), August 27, 2005.
- Gwen Filosa, "At least 10,000 find refuge at the Superdome," The Times-Picayune, August 29, 2005.
- Ed Anderson, "Evacuation scramble puts contraflow system to the test. Westbound traffic clogs escape routes," The Times-Picayune, August 29, 2005.
- "Some who stayed put may not live to regret it. 'I'm expecting ... some people who are die-hards will die hard,' official says," MSNBC, August 30, 2005.
- "FEMA chief: Victims bear some responsibility. Brown pleased with effort: 'Things are going relatively well'," CNN, September 1, 2005.
- Wolf Blitzer, Transcript: "FEMA Director: Focus is on Life-Saving Efforts; Critically Injured Airlifted from Superdome," CNN, September 1, 2005.
- "Jesse Jackson hits out at Bush, suggests race behind New Orleans' plight," Agence France Presse (Yahoo! News), September 2, 2005.
- George Neumayr, "Masques of Death," The American Spectator, September 2, 2005.
- "Race in New Orleans: Shaping the Response to Katrina?" Democracy Now!, September 2, 2005.
- Sam Coates and Dan Eggen, "A City of Despair and Lawlessness. Thousands Stranded in New Orleans; Troops Pour In," Washington Post, September 2, 2005.
- "New Orleans mayor lashes out at feds. Nagin: 'They are spinning and people are dying'," CNN, September 2, 2005.
- Scott Shane and Eric Lipton, "Government Saw Flood Risk but Not Levee Failure," New York Times, September 2, 2005.
- "The big disconnect on New Orleans. The official version; then there's the in-the-trenches version," CNN, September 2, 2005.
- David Gonzalez, "From Margins of Society to Center of the Tragedy," New York Times, September 2, 2005.
- "Kanye West: 'George Bush doesn't care about black people," Croos and Liars September 2, 2005. WMP and QT links with article.
- Mary Foster, "Guardsmen Evacuate Refugees From Superdome," Associated Press (Yahoo! News), September 3, 2005.
Hurricane is God's work: Christian extremists]", Sydney Morning Herald, September 3, 2005. (This is a Reuters story).
- Jason DeParle, "What Happens to a Race Deferred," New York Times, September 3, 2005.
- Wil Haygood, "Living Paycheck to Paycheck Made Leaving Impossible," Washington Post, September 4, 2005.
- "Storm’s victims unlike most Americans. Census analysis shows how demographics of poverty contributed to disaster," Associated Press (MSNBC), September 4, 2005.
- Dan Simpson, "The rich, white-guy approach to world poverty programs," Toledo Blade, September 7, 2005: "It is horrible to say, but the Bush Administration’s slow, inadequate, insensitive response to the tragedy in New Orleans makes what Mr. Bolton is doing in New York very clear: These people don’t care about poor, non-white, sick, helpless people anywhere, not even in the United States. ... So how could anyone ever imagine that they would care about poor, non-white, sick, helpless people in the rest of the world?"
- Charles Babington, "Some GOP Legislators Hit Jarring Notes in Addressing Katrina," Washington Post, September 10, 2005.