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Sunday, January 7, 2007

If I Weren't So Angry, I'd Cry

This morning when I checked my email I received something that has really got my blood pumping, and not in a good way. It was from someone I am very close to which is only of importance when you see my response. (I will keep the sender anonymous, except to say they are family and even with family there are times when I think it is important NOT to hold your tongue.)

So this email, or should I say forward (which my husband would immediately question why I read it in the first place because most of those things are trash, aside from a few that are truly humorous and some actually informative on occasions), and it started out quite harmlessly. It was apparently (or should I say supposedly) authored by a Denver, Colorado resident who spoke about the recent snowstorms:

"Up here, in the "Mile-Hi City", we just recovered from a Historic event--- may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions" --- with a historic blizzard of up to 44" inches of snow and winds to 90 MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10's of thousands."

OK. Seems harmless. Not really sure where this is going and then I got to the next paragraph. Now, I won't reprint this email in its entirety because I am so disgusted by it. I won't give the author the satisfaction, but I do want you to see what I'm reacting to so here are a few excerpts:

FYI: George Bush did not come.
FEMA did nothing.
No one howled for the government.
No one blamed the government.
No one even uttered an expletive on TV.
Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton did not visit.
Our Mayor did not blame Bush or anyone else.
No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House.
No one looted.

Obviously, this "person" is referring to the situation in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. There were a lot of things that went wrong there starting with not evacuating people who had no transportation to get out of the city themselves; Not having any adequate shelter to house and feed the people who were left in the city during the storm; And not having, at a city, state or federal level, an effective plan to get to those who were drowning in the great floods that resulted from ineffective levys that were supposed to prevent New Orleans from being drowned.

Anyway, the author of this email continued to illustrate how the great people of Denver simply picked themselves up by their bootstraps, unlike those "other" people who just complained and expected someone to come help them.

Local restaurants made food and the police and fire departments delivered it to the snowbound families.
Families took in the stranded people - total strangers.
We put on extra layers of clothes because up here it is "Work or Die".
We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for 'sittin at home' checks.
. . . I hope this gets passed on. Maybe SOME people will get the message. The world does Not owe you a living.

OK. I must stop here. I'm sure the people of New Orleans would have liked to do all of those things, but IT WAS ALL UNDER WATER!!!! It was never a question of simply "digging out." And I know I shouldn't let these things bother me, but I do. I seethe over them. I just can't believe that not only are there people out there that write this trash, but there are people out there that pass it on as "interesting," "something to think about," and so on. What it is is racist and I called it as much when I sent my reply back to the person who sent it to me:

RE: Thousands of folks in Denver weren't evacuated to a convention center without adequate food, water and bathroom facilities. They weren't then locked in the convention center and told they could not leave even though there were people who had died in the convention center and were now rotting on the floor. They were not stranded for days on their roofs because the water was so high it was the only chance they had to prevent drowning.

The government failed New Orleans by not providing the thousands of people living there without transportation a way out of the city BEFORE the disaster. And I haven't heard of how many died in this snow event of "biblical proportions" in Denver, but I'm pretty sure it's nowhere close to the more than 1,800 people who died in New Orleans as a direct result of Hurricane Katrina. And I'm pretty sure that Denver has dug out and people can use their cars and go to the grocery stores and go about their lives. New Orleans was underwater for weeks and there are still people who cannot go back to their homes because of the dangerous mold, sludge and sewer waste that covers their walls, floors and streets.

You're right, the government doesn't owe anyone a living. But they do owe us leadership in times of crisis, and in New Orleans they did not get that. They didn't get it before the storm when they were told it was safe to live there; that the levys would hold back the water and when the levys failed they didn't get it after the flood waters rose. Did you know that there were National Guard soldiers standing on a bridge that led out of the city, to places where the flood waters weren't so high, and they refused to let people cross due to the orders they were given? They should have been leading those people out to safety, and yet it was like trying to cross the border into another country without the proper papers - all within the borders of the United States of America, home of the free.

It was deplorable and I am ashamed of how the government (mis)handled the situation and continues to drag its feet. I don't pay taxes so the government can continue to make the rich richer (although in reality I do, that's not where I want my money going) - I pay taxes so that my fellow human beings have help when they need it; their children get an education; and as few people as possible have to go hungry and homeless. The people of New Orleans believed they had been abandoned and I don't blame them. Put yourself in their shoes for one day during that week of horror and you tell me that they don't have a right to be angry.

I'm glad that your friend in Denver fared well in the blizzard ... Maybe it has to do with snow being more manageable than water - they say water damage is the worst. Maybe Denver was just more prepared because they are used to heavy snowfall and there was a plan in place. Maybe Denver just has more money allotted for natural disaster cleanup - after all they certainly have more wealth.

What I do know is that Denver is a city of just under 2.5 million people where 80% of those people are white and the median family income is about $48,000 per year. New Orleans (Orleans Parish where the hurricane hit hardest) is a city of less than 500,000 with just over 70% being non-white (including African American, Hispanic, Asian, etc.) and the median income for a family was less than $33,000 per year ... Maybe that has nothing to do with it, but maybe it does. If you ask me, whoever wrote this email sounds like a racist and I won't be passing it along.

So, yes, while I agree that this is trash, that I shouldn't let it bother me, etc. etc. I also think that it's time to respond, to be vocal and let people know that we recognize trash when we see it and not leave it out on display as if it were not the toxic sludge that it is. Trash goes in a trash can (some things cannot be recycled), is incinerated and the energy produced should be used to heat someone's home or provide them with electricity - then, and only then, will this kind of sludge not be so hazardous.

My rant is now over.

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At 1/07/2007 04:40:00 PM, Blogger Em said...

I am SO in your corner on this one! Denver and New Orleans can not be compared. Not the people. Not the weather. Not the damage that was created. Not the actual need for assistance and leadership. Our government failed in New Orleans. A humiliating failure. Regardless of what happens in Denver or anyplace else, nothing changes how badly our government cared for the people of New Orleans!

Three cheers to you for voicing your feelings!

At 1/07/2007 05:14:00 PM, Blogger Linus said...

It seems so obvious, doesn't it? But who knows how many people are circulating this thing!! My guess is that it's not actually written by someone from Denver, but by someone with an agenda.

Well, if he/she wanted to rile people up - they sure got me!

At 1/08/2007 12:01:00 AM, Blogger Alex Elliot said...

I was horrified by that email! It bothered me on so many levels, most of which you already addressed. I have never gotten why people need to compare tragedies. It seems very common to do so in our society. It's terrible that there was a horrible snowstorm in Denver. I'm glad that they did not need the government's help. What exactly does that have to do with New Orlean's? Why does the writer need to compare the two? It's not supposed to be some sort of contest.

At 1/08/2007 11:08:00 AM, Blogger Linus said...

UPDATE: I received an email back from the person who sent the original. She point by point tried to counter my (emotional, I admit) retort.

Well, I couldn't take it lying down and went back and did the same thing, paragraph by paragraph. It's exhausting!

But the one thing that was not addressed was the idea that this original email and the ideas in it are racist. She didn't have an answer for that. Actually, she completely ignored it.

Wonder why that was? ;)

Thanks for the comment, Alex. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who was outraged. Seriously. What is wrong with people? Do they not see the message behind the words or do they not want to? Or is it that they believe the message?

Will it ever get any better?

At 1/09/2007 05:43:00 PM, Blogger Christina said...

That is one of the most disgusting things I've read lately. I can't believe someone has the nerve to send something like that around to others.

You can't compare natural disasters like that. The hurricane completely wiped out neighborhoods and due to the design of New Orleans (never a good design if you ask me, but I wasn't the city planner), it was nearly impossible to get everyone out safely without government help, which didn't arrive.

There's a big difference between sitting in your house with snow up to the top of your door and sitting in your house with water up to the top of your door. In the first case, you can survive with what you have in the house and wait it out. In the other case, you're under water and drowned.

At 1/10/2007 04:00:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

This is how I responded to my "friend" when they passed the email along....

Comparing the recent blizzard in Colorado and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans demeans and belittles the misery that the residents of New Orleans have endured, and are still enduring. It also shocks me that the true measure of your intelligence is so small that you would agree and forward this email, apart from the intellect of whomever sent you this email in the first place.

The differences between the storm in Colorado and the hurricane in New Orleans are so blindingly obvious, that it seems only a simpleton with no discernable awareness of even the basic news events of the last 24 months would endeavor to compare the two storms. But for those of you that live in a 5,000 square foot cave with brand new GE Profile Appliances and a 42 inch plasma TV that only broadcasts Fox News, let's review.


No, I’m not talking about Global Warming, Rush and Bill O, I’m talking about the levees. The disaster wasn't the hurricane. It was the levees breaking and flooding the city. Whose fault was that? You certainly can’t fault the folks living there. What’s that? I guess you can because they were “immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for ‘sittin’ at home’ checks”. If they’d gotten jobs or something, maybe they could have bought hurricane insurance to insure their homes against hurricane damage. But it turns out many of them did purchase this crucial insurance. However in a brilliant move to save themselves billions of dollars in claims, many of the nations largest insurance companies have deemed the disaster a flood, and not a hurricane, therefore denying thousands of claims for people that held hurricane insurance policies (a must have in New Orleans), but failed to insure against floods.


Thousands of people that FOLLOWED INSTRUCTIONS and evacuated the city before the Hurricane lost their homes completely. Yes, there were those that didn’t heed the warnings out of stubbornness, stupidity, or a lack of transportation out of the area, but far too many of them either drowned or were rescued from the roofs of their ruined homes, only to be taken to shelters that had no medical care, food or water. Nah, those people should have fended for themselves, just like the tough folks in Colorado had to.

How many people in Colorado lost their homes due to the blizzard? I believe the final number has topped out at zero. How many of them died? I think five or six deaths can be "attributed" directly to the two blizzards. You can be sure that if thousands were dead and hundreds of thousands were left homeless because of a Colorado snowstorm, Geraldo and Larry King would be there, and they’d be speculating on-air about when the tough folks of Colorado were going to get their $2,000 debit cards. And in case you didn’t have the plasma TV tuned in that morning, the storm was national news for at least three days straight.

There was and still are some aid operations going on for the tough, “work or die” folks in Colorado. The cattle that are stranded in Southern Colorado are receiving emergency food drops from the government. The Red Cross set up shelters for stranded travelers. And Governor Bill Owens declared emergencies twice during the two storms so that Colorado would be eligible and would receive FEDERAL aid. God forbid the people in New Orleans ask for a little help from the greatest country in the world, when they've lost what little they owned, are now homeless, jobless and are searching desperately for their own parents and their own children in the next state.

So in Colorado, the folks are tough? They just piled in their SUVs, filled the tanks up with three dollar a gallon gas and rushed out to stock their cupboards and stainless steel refrigerators with sparkling water, hot French bread and fresh shrimp cocktail, stopping at Park Meadows Mall to buy a new video game system for Hunter and Hailey so they would have something to do when they weren’t outside frolicking in the freshly fallen snow. Because “out here it’s work or die”. It must have been really rough. Good for you, people of Colorado - for not bothering the rest of the world with pleas for help. Good for you.

And to the author of the original email – it seems to me it is just a very thinly disguised racist rant – “I have noticed that once one gets north of about 48 degrees North Latitude, 90% of the world's social problems evaporate” - tell me that's not filth from the mouth of someone that has a problem with people that are of a different ethnic background. Maybe next time your Hummer is stuck in a drift, as you’re trying to get your car out of the Starbucks parking lot, may it be either myself or a displaced New Orleans resident that comes to offer aid, so that we can help you get your car out and then politely tell you to f**k off.


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