Monday, September 12, 2005

Candorville Asks for Katrina Accountability

Here we go... Today Candorville begins its look at the response to Hurricane Katrina -- the most pathetic response to a disaster I've witnessed in my lifetime. I was expecting the usual head-buried-in-sand responses to this week's strips, but so far I've only received one. Maybe the failures of our leaders this time were too obvious and irrefutable.

Monday: In today's strip, as the rest of the nation did two weeks ago, Lemont puts two and two together. A reader from Northbrook, IL had a problem with that:

"The assertion that many of the first responders from Lousiana were in Iraq is a lie. There is enough objective blame to be assigned, why throw up smoke screens?"
Now, I was expecting e-mails from people who simply don't think the Katrina disaster should be discussed on the comics page, or from people repeating the childish "blame game" retort (a weapon that those deserving of blame have always used whenever someone suggests they should be held accountable for their inept behavior). But I wasn't quite expecting an e-mail from someone who's been on Mars for the past two weeks and wasn't aware that large numbers of Gulf Coast National Guard troops are stationed in Iraq (with their equipment, which would have come in handy in New Orleans) and were unable to respond to the hurricane.

What's next, an e-mail saying "Hurricane? What hurricane? That whole thing is a lie. Why throw up smokescreens?"

I haven't even begun to talk about the racial aspects of the response, but the more first-hand accounts you read, the more clear it becomes that the racial element is very real, and very disgusting.

Tuesday:Today's strip comments on the two photos that have been making the rounds around the Internet. One shows a Black person wading through chest-deep water, carrying food. The Black person is called a "looter," while the White couple is depicted as "finding" the food. The other shows a White couple doing the same. A Chicago reader was offended by Candorville raising the issue:
"Liberals dislike George Bush because they say he never admits to a mistake. Yet when a substantial portion of the black community in New Orleans behaves abominably in the face of a natural disaster, liberals blame the media.

You have a thug in your strip for whom you cut no slack. Why make excuses for thugs in New Orleans?"

As Snopes points out, there were reasons for the different labels. But those reasons are immaterial, as far as I'm concerned. Here's my response:
"I'm sorry, but that's just ridiculous. Taking food in a situation like that is no crime. You know you'd do it too, and you'd be right to do it to feed yourself and your family. Taking TVs and stereos is wrong (and White people did that too, but for some reason we didn't see images of that on CNN), but a "substantial portion" of the Black community filled their bags with pampers and food, not with DVD players."

Has anyone seen a photo of a White person in New Orleans described as a "looter?" In two weeks of searching, I haven't found one. Surely they exist, but they're not easy to find.

Whatever the reason, Blacks were more likely to be called "looters" and Whites were more likely to "find" or "take" food (not just in those photos, but on coverage I witnessed with my own eyes on CNN). The Supreme Court long ago (in the area of voting rights, but it applies everywhere IMO) settled that discrimination of results is just as bad as discrimination of intent, and I agree with that. The news services should have taken into account the circumstances (a mostly poor Black area, no food for days, no way to get to an ATM machine, and no money obviously meant most of the people taking supplies would be Black). In light of the circumstances the Media should have refrained from calling ANYONE a "looter" if they were only taking what they needed to survive. I believe taking this sort of situation into account when establishing guidelines for reporting is the Media's responsibility, and in their coverage of that part of the tragedy, they came up short.


Anonymous said...

What a relief to see the race/class issue brought up in the comic strips. I don't see it mentioned on Fox News and the like - they just keep saying its all just a blame game and suggesting (like Bill O'Reilly did) that the people who were trapped deserved what they got.

MEC said...

"...when a substantial portion of the black community in New Orleans behaves abominably in the face of a natural disaster, liberals blame the media."

...A substantial portion of the black community in New Orleans behaves abominably? How many unwarranted assumptions can this clown cram into one sentence. Substantial portion? Uh, no. A "substantial portion" were either on the road or crammed into the Superdome. The clown also assumes that EVERYBODY who stayed in N.O. was looting. I don't think so. I suspect most of them were clinging to the rafters trying not to drown.

Maybe this guy hadn't heard that a lot of people were still in New Orleans because, when they tried to escape via the bridge to the neighboring community of Gretna, they were stopped at gunpoint by officers of the law who didn't want "those kind of people" invading their community. Or maybe he thinks taking what you need to survive is wrong, but refusing help to desperate people is justified.

tdc said...

The Sept 13th Candorville strip touched on the media labeling New Orleans blacks with food as "looters" and whites labeled as "finding food"

The Wall Street Journal investigated 2 of the pictures in question and discovered that the news services had established standards for the terms used to describe events. The common standard was that the photographers and reporters could only report on what the actually observed. In the case of the black individual being identified as a "looter" the photographer observed the individual taking food from a store. In the case of the white individual being identified as "finding food" the photographer observed the person in the street with food, but not in the act of obtaining it.

The reason for the different labels was not due to a racial conspiracy, or bias, but rather when the specific individuals were observed

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