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The International Writers Magazine
: REALITY CHECK

THE BIG DESPERATE
•James Campion

New Orleans Drowns It’s Poor And Huddled Masses

You gentlemen who think you have a mission
To purge us of the seven deadly sins
Should first sort out the basic food position
Then start your preaching. - Bertolt Brecht

"What Keeps Mankind Alive?"
The Threepenny Opera

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re trying to wash us away.
- Randy Newman 'Louisiana 1927'

If you’ve gleaned anything from reading the mess I’ve sent to press for close to a decade, I hope you’ve learned this: If you are counting on anything or anyone in this life to keep you from harm’s way, or to get you ahead, or to make you happy or fulfilled or confident about the world at large besides your family and/or your wife/husband, you are insane. Period. Not mistaken or mislead or misinformed, insane; painfully so. This is not opinion or philosophy. It is truth. And if what happened in the greater Southeast these past weeks is not the saddest example of this fact, then there isn’t one. If one iota of the truth of this sinks into your skull for even a millisecond, then those poor souls would not have died in vain.

The central theme to the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, specifically in New Orleans, is money; not race, or politics, or region or whatever you may have heard regurgitated by the usual suspects. It’s money, fans. If you’ve got it, you’re not forced to live in a flood zone beneath weak levees, and when the shit storm comes, you have the means to get the hell out. Otherwise, you die. This is true if you believe in Jesus, Justice and The American Way or not. Without the funds, you’re screwed.

What those flood waters did, the way it happens in your basement, is dredge up the things you’ve ignored for sometime. Many of those things are not pretty. We ignore poverty in this country. It’s not pretty. We like to turn the other way, throw some money at it once in a while, make speeches and hold charity events, but for the most part, we ignore it. This is not to say we’re the only country to do this, just the most unseemly, when you consider the way we’re always offering up international advise on how to run things, that is when we’re not congratulating ourselves on being the best nation in the history of civilization. But who has time to face poverty, when you’re worrying about space programs, Paris Hilton and whether gays are marrying. Meanwhile, there are a frighteningly large number of people in the richest of all nations who are waiting out a death sentence. The number came up for thousands of them last week.

For the uninitiated, and consider yourself lucky you are, when the impoverished are trapped and flooded or burned or turned out of their homes and sent into chaos, they run amok. This is what desperation does to humans. This is when we learn how much like animals we are, when we’re pushed to the brink and have nothing to lose and are given a blank slate with no order. We commit violence, random and furious, and we loot, because we have nothing, and no one is stopping us. It is the same principle with the rich, but they do it in boardrooms and on stock floors and trade on land like a Monopoly board. But do not fool yourself, the rich are human too, and they are ruthless and care very little when the slate becomes blank and the rules no longer apply. See Enron for the latest and greatest example of this.

The other big deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and its historic devastation is this crazy idea that the state or federal governments should be spectacularly vilified for their inadequate, and at times, criminally inept behavior during the disaster. This is wrong. Who in their right mind thought the Louisiana Government, world famous for a legacy of corruption and stupidity going back to the murderous Old Bourbons and a demented megalomaniac by the name of Huey Long, America’s last profitable fascist, would rescue anyone? And what of this fancy federal government of ours, who has shown a spectacularly miserable effort in protecting its borders; did it have the track record in preparing for disaster?

Has no one paid attention to the recent past? I’ll tell you one thing, after 9/11, it is impossible for anyone who isn’t living in a red white and blue fantasyland to trust the federal government to do anything but wage war and make deals with large corporations and oil concerns. The fact is the federal government is distracted, in hock, and run by colossal buck passers and excuse makers, and if I were standing in a waterlogged shack on the banks of the Mississippi, the last thing I would expect is an army helicopter to swoop in and save the day.

This is a government that continues to pitch dumb about an attack on its soil and played innocent bumpkins all the way through this thing. Some dunderhead even advised our Boy President to publicly admit they had no idea the levees wouldn’t hold despite numerous engineering books on the subject published as early as 1981, and, of course, a rich history of Louisiana floods. Was this any different than eight years after the World Trade Center bombing well-paid people scratched their heads in disbelief over terrorist activity in the same place?

Here’s a final tidbit of useful wisdom; although humans can create, invent, conquer and reconstruct in the fields of science, religion and politics, we have never, and will never be able to stop the tides if they rise or the flames if they’re left to devour. Loads of water and unchecked fire wins every time. Nature is unforgiving, like human nature. So gain the high ground and batten down the hatches. You’re on our own.
© James Campion September 9th 2005
www.jamescampion.com
realitycheck@jamescampion.com

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