Monday, September 05, 2005


George Bush doesn’t care about black people

That’s what rapper Kanye West said on the NBC hurricane benefit concert Friday night. This was a departure from the approved script, and his comments were axed from the west coast broadcast, but to anyone who wasn’t stranded on a desert island last week, or similarly insulated from reality, like, say, by being the homeland security secretary or the Director of FEMA, West was only stating the obvious. It was interesting to watch the national conversation evolve during the week. First no one mentioned the fact that the people abandoned in New Orleans were overwhelmingly African-American. Then gradually there was an acknowledgment that class was a factor—people were stranded because they had no cars or other resources to get out of town. Then by the end of the week, race started being mentioned openly in the mainstream media. I haven’t been able to bring myself to monitor Fox News, but Frank Rich reports that even Bill O’Reilly was forced to acknowledge the truth by Thursday night. Unfortunately, we can’t blame this horrific social collapse solely on George Bush. We live in a deeply racist society, and openly acknowledging that fact is the first step toward changing it. I know we all have quantum-particle-sized attention spans these days, but I don’t think the Republicans will manage to sweep the shameful Katrina fallout under the rug anytime soon. Not even with Bush’s ridiculous distraction ploy of nominating of John Roberts for chief justice.
You raise some excellent points, Alison. Keep up the good work.
And then there's this, which very clearly and directly answers the "don't politicize the problem" line:
I dunno, I sort of felt a sinking feeling when I heard Kayne's comment in that "Oh great, now the right wing talking heads have a straw man to deflect any criticism" way. It certainly is an issue that needs to be discussed, I'm just dreading the inevitable stupidity on the right; "A rapper said the president hates black people! This surely negates ANY debate about race and class in this!"
For some incredible firsthand accounts about racism, the National Guard, and the hurricane, go to This American Life's website ( and download the "After the Flood" show. It's free.

The cruelty of people never ceases to amaze me.

Anonymous wrote, "... I sort of felt a sinking feeling when I heard Kayne's comment in that 'Oh great, now the right wing talking heads have a straw man to deflect any criticism' way."

Reading that made me sort of feel a sinking feeling. They can only do that if we let them. And unfortunately, we've been letting them get away with it for too damn long. Part of the blame lies with the corporate media, who make sure that they show only the most limited and range of opinions. It's to Kayne's credit that he managed to get past their censorship.

But much of the blame lies with liberals who back down immediately whenever someone utters the truth too bluntly. But then it might be necessary to deal with white liberal racism too. Oops, just crawl back under your shell, it's safer there.
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