Friday, September 02, 2005

Blaming the Victims

choice n.
  1. The act of choosing; selection.
  2. The power, right, or liberty to choose; option.
  3. One that is chosen.
  4. A number or variety from which to choose
  5. The best or most preferable part.
  6. Care in choosing.
  7. An alternative.

The news story is from

A Conversation at FEMA:

"What's another way to say, 'It's not our fault?'"
"We didn't know?"
"No good, we kinda did see it coming."
"It's the locals fault?"
"Yea, that's it-- it's local government and local individuals' fault. Plus, that message is consistent with fundamentalist republicanism and a lot of our base will buy into it."
"I know, let's talk about the CHOICE people had to leave, and how their CHOICE "not to heed warnings" led to their deaths."
"That's awesome, with the added benefit of fitting into our use of the word choice as a code word for death, so it's consistent."

(CNN) -- The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday those New Orleans residents who chose not to heed warnings to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina bear some responsibility for their fates.
"Let's bury it by making it clear that the local folks said that bad news first."
"We're going to have to get around to saying the true death toll soon anyway, let's use this opportunity to bury the first pronouncement that changes the likely number from hundred[s] to thousands."

Michael Brown also agreed with other public officials that the death toll in the city could reach into the thousands.

"Slam hard on the idea that people could have saved themselves if only they'd listened (like the children they are)."

"Unfortunately, that's going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings," Brown told CNN.

"Make sure not to suggest that poverty, physical and mental illness, hospitalizations, mobility challenges, and not having a car weren't the cause of staying in these areas. Leave room for the assumption that this CHOICE people made was one that involved ACTUAL OPTIONS."
"Yea, let's not mention that drug addicts are going to become desperate quickly without a supply of drugs, or that when people run out of their prescription drugs for blood pressure, mental illness, or diabetes, their thinking will become disordered."
"Oh crap, that disordered thinking happens when people get dehydrated too, doesn't it? Yea, best keep the subject to their individual choices. That's a nice American image--individuality, bootstraps, and cowboyism."

I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, " he said.

"But make sure to show that you feel bad for these poor people. Don't let it seem like you don't care."
"Make sure to emphasize that the hurricane and the evacuation was a local issue, not a federal one until after the catastrophe itself."
"Don't suggest that having 4 days to prepare meant that the federal government could have, say, started that hospital ship going in the general direction of, um, south."
"Yea, and give the appearance of sticking up for the Mayor while you distance the federal govt from responsibility."

"And to find people still there is just heart-wrenching to me because, you know, the mayor did everything he could to get them out of there.
"Hit again the idea that poor people have options that they choose not to exercise."
"It's got to be spun like welfare reform... If we're going to have to be helping these people for months, which no way we'll pay for, then we've got to start blaming them for their plight now."
"But end on a nice strong note of helping out, looking like a good guy."

"So, we've got to figure out some way to convince people that whenever warnings go out it's for their own good," Brown said. "Now, I don't want to second guess why they did that. My job now is to get relief to them."

I just imagined this conversation, right?

1 comment:

Michelle Murrain said...

Cindy, you always get it right. The story might not have happened exactly this way, but it's true.