Reflections on Katrina
by Arthur Paris


Did the American Empire that is fighting to bring democracy to other nations by force defend the right to life of these Americans? The sorry truth is that they are Americans in name only, fit to pay taxes, fit to send children to die in unholy holocaust for corporations and fit to vote for the next charlatan. When they are in need of the services of government, they don't exist. Like the pestilential empire of Rome, citizenship has become something greatly degraded, for it is little more than a resource to be exploited. If your taxes pay for the privilege of being ignored, why pay them?

The next time you hear the promise of a state or federal politician, the next time you hear the words, "Serve your country," think on these things. There is a third world inside America. It can be seen in the streets of our cities, among the homeless. It is in the pre-prison centers we laughingly call schools. It is in these prisons by the millions where the face of state hatred is rarely shielded. It's in the cynical lives of politicians, in laws like "No Child Left Behind," where we know generations are left behind. It is unseen but numbering in the millions.

- Mumia Abu-Jamal

excerpted from "Live From Death Row,"


When catastrophe came, government institutions failed. The finger points legitimately at the Federal administration. In a broad, multi-state emergency, they're the ones with troops, trucks, and trained personnel. The Bush administration has tried to spread the blame for the failure of government to respond, claiming they couldn't move until requested to do so by the Louisiana governor. This is simply not true. Never mind Posse Comitatus. In the wake of 911, the Patriot Act specifically authorizes the Federal authorities to act. The fact that they took nearly a week to do so speaks much more loudly than their late words of concern.

The lessons are multiply clear. Never mind the Republican agenda about shrinking the size of government. In a disaster situation, New Orleans' experience makes clear that if you're poor, non-white and need government help, you're on your own. Let us hope that millions of Americans saw that the emperor had no clothes. We have been forewarned. No disaster happens without a warning. This was a warning for the rest of us.

- Arthur Paris is a Syracuse University Sociology Professor