By Amanda Lang
09/04/05 “ICH”——Reports from the survivors describe an American story many will not want to hear and many will deny. Trapped people hold up on the upper floors and roof-tops of the less damaged buildings in New Orleans, describe how hotel buses half-loaded with guests for evacuation, refused passage for stranded tourists ? national and international—and New Orleans residents that were non-guests ? even those with children. Left-behind. And they were not the only ones.
Another man with his two dogs relates how he screamed for half-filled boats to help him. All passed him by. After eight hours of swimming and treading water with his dogs clinging to debris, he reached dry ground and eventually joined the left-behind families above. He and his dogs share what water and food they can scrape together wondering when help will come. Think ?Titanic.? And he was not the only one.
At the convention center, a dead elderly woman in a wheelchair covered with a blanket, rests alone with a last note for her loved on her lap. Scattered around her are still more dead, more dying, the sick, the hungry, and the abandoned—mostly black—waiting for help. You?ve seen the pictures. Pictures of the dead babies, you did not see. We are four days into this tragedy and these people have had no help.
If Katrina has done anything, she has exposed the dark under-belly of a nation that prides itself on being a ?Christian? nation steeped in the values of the Old and New Testaments, but ironically seems more interested in second homes, hummers, legislating morality, and being holier-than-thou. I know people were scared and afraid?we?ve all heard the stories of bad coming from trying to do good for strangers. And there is truth to them. We are afraid of each other. Isolating ourselves to our own class or perceived kind behind ?gated? neighborhoods and communities, we drive with blinders in SUVs towering above the fray at lightning, gas-guzzling speeds looking over, through, and/or around our fellow citizens trying to do anything but see them. Raised in a Christian-holiness home, I have had heard the Rapture story and am very familiar with the Left-Behind concept. How do we reconcile that America is in ?violent disagreement? with America?
Look at our political leadership. Bush vacations while 85 American soldiers ? someone?s brother, sister, wife, husband, mother, grandmother, or grandfather ? die and virtually rides a bike over the graves of Cindy Sheehan?s son and the symbolic graves of the almost 1,900 Americans his war of lies has taken. Condi Rice took in a Broadway comedy and bought thousands of dollars worth of shoes last night. Only god knows what the rest of this administration was doing? Bush is finally in New Orleans. His first photo-op featured Bush standing in front of rescue helicopters surrounded by National Guard soldiers. Why weren?t those helicopters out rescuing people or delivering supplies and why weren?t those troops out patrolling? These images are in ?violent disagreement? with the image America has of America. Bush spoke of his sorrow that Trent Lott lost his home ? as if he doesn?t have another one or two? See what I mean.
America ? your under-belly is showing and next time you might be the one ?left-behind.?
Copyright Amanda Lang
Originally published on the Op Ed News site at www.OpEdNews.com and reprinted in TAM with permission of the author.