You knew it was bound to happen.
First, Rev. Jesse Jackson played the race card on the response to Hurricane Katrina:
Civil Rights leader Jesse Jackson fired off a fierce attack on President George W. Bush over Hurricane Katrina and claimed black people were being locked out of top relief roles.
Jackson raised the sensitive issue of race, simmering below the surface in New Orleans, even before the hurricane tragedy, pointing out that many of those trapped in the city by the storm were poor and black.
"There is a historical indifference to the pain of poor people, and black people … we seem to adjust more easily to black pain."
Jackson spoke after leading a bus convoy into New Orleans to rescue 450 students trapped at Xavier University, and said he had been shocked by scenes of pain among refugees trying to flee the city.
"We reach out today for our president to lead from the ground, not the air," Jackson said, as Bush toured hurricane hit areas by foot and by helicopter after admitting government relief efforts so far were "not acceptable."
Jackson said 120,000 people in New Orleans make less than 8,000 dollars a year. "They are poor people, black people for the most part without private transportation, many of them are old and sick."
And he also criticized the role given to former presidents George Bush senior and Bill Clinton as coordinators for a fund raising effort following the Katrina tragedy, similar to their role as tsunami fund raisers.
"Why are there no African Americans in that circle?" Jackson asked.
And he’s not the only one doing it. Randall Robinson at the Huffington Post writes this unconfirmed report:
It is reported that black hurricane victims in New Orleans have begun eating corpses to survive. Four days after the storm, thousands of blacks in New Orleans are dying like dogs. No-one has come to help them.
I am a sixty-four year old African-American.
New Orleans marks the end of the America I strove for.
I am hopeless. I am sad. I am angry against my country for doing nothing when it mattered.
This is what we have come to. This defining watershed moment in America’s racial history. For all the world to witness. For those who’ve been caused to listen for a lifetime to America’s ceaseless hollow bleats about democracy. For Christians, Jews and Muslims at home and abroad. For rich and poor. For African-American soldiers fighting in Iraq. For African-Americans inside the halls of officialdom and out.
The Washington Post stirs the pot with this headline:
In that piece, Washington Post Staff writer Wil Haygood went on to write what appears to be an editorial masquerading as a straight news piece (emphasis added):
BATON ROUGE, La., Sept. 1 — It seemed a desperate echo of a bygone era, a mass of desperate-looking black folk on the run in the Deep South. Some without shoes.
It was high noon Thursday at a rest stop on the edge of Baton Rouge when several buses pulled in, fresh from the calamity of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Hundreds piled out, dragging themselves as if floating through some kind of thick liquid. They were exhausted, some crying.
"It was like going to hell and back," said Bernadette Washington, 38, a black homemaker from Orleans Parish who had slept under a bridge the night before with her five children and her husband. She sighed the familiar refrain, stinging as an old-time blues note: "All I have is the clothes on my back. And I been sleeping in them for three days."
While hundreds of thousands of people have been dislocated by Hurricane Katrina, the images that have filled the television screens have been mainly of black Americans — grieving, suffering, in some cases looting and desperately trying to leave New Orleans. Along with the intimate tales of family drama and survival being played out Thursday, there was no escaping that race had become a subtext to the unfolding drama of the hurricane’s aftermath.
"To me," said Bernadette Washington, "it just seems like black people are marked. We have so many troubles and problems."
And, via Drudge, rapper Kanye West – while on NBC’s nationally televised ‘A Concert for Hurricane Relief’ – had this to say:
KANYE WEST ON NBC FUNDRAISER: ‘GEORGE BUSH DOESN’T CARE ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE… They’re saying black families are looting and white families are just looking for food…they’re giving the (Army) permission to shoot us’… Actor Mike Myers asked people to donate… then Kanye West went on a tirade about Iraq… MORE…
Update: Here’s a non-Drudge link on the Kanye West comments for those who would like a more ‘official’ source on that quote.
More: Michelle Malkin has more links on Kanye West’s comments.
Update II: Via the Detroit News:
While speakers focused on the need to get aid to victims quickly and getting them out of life-threatening conditions, the issue of race and poverty repeatedly broke through the news conference. Many of the hurricane victims are black and poor, and were not able to evacuate before the hurricane the struck. One audience member demanded to know whether the slow federal response was "black genocide," while another woman cried out, "African Americans built this nation. Descendants of slaves are being allowed to die."
Similarly concerned that race may be affecting relief efforts, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings said "poverty, age and skin color" are determining who lives and dies.
"God cannot be pleased with our response," the Maryland Democrat said before admonishing President George Bush with a quotation from the Bible about the need to help the "least of these."
Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, blasted "disparate treatment" of Katrina victims, referring to reports of whites, not blacks, being able to flee in boats, as well as black mayors not hearing from federal relief officials.
The news media were also chastised for referring to victims as "refugees" rather than "American citizens," and for reporting isolated looting without emphasizing the context of the difficult conditions people are living in.
"Desperate people do desperate things," said U.S. Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif.
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., called on Americans not to harshly judge wrongdoers: "Who are we to say what law and order should be in this unspeakable environment?"
(Cross-posted at BlogsForBush)
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