[News] Ten years later - New Orleans became the face of disaster capitalism and ethnic cleansing

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 20 12:57:55 EDT 2015


*http://blackagendareport.com/freedom_rider_katrina_white_imagination*


  Freedom Rider: Katrina in the White Imagination

August 18, 2015


      *by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley*

“/*New Orleans became the face of disaster capitalism and ethnic 
cleansing.”*/

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Louisiana, and 
the entire Gulf coast. More than 1,800 people died and thousands more 
were permanently displaced. In the years since, that city regained only 
two-thirds of its pre-hurricane population. But this tragedy for 
multitudes was a gift to powerful people who wanted to turn New Orleans 
into Exhibit A for neo-liberalism.

A /Chicago Tribune/ op-ed column _originally titled 
<http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/Katrina-Chicago_Tribune.pdf>_, “In 
Chicago, wishing for a hurricane Katrina” began with these words. “Envy 
isn’t a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of 
Hurricane Katrina.” The author then proceeded to demonstrate that she 
did in fact fantasize about a Katrina like catastrophe for her city.

In 2005 the ruling elites were over overjoyed because nature gave them 
the chance to do what they could not get away with easily. Overnight, 
New Orleans lost a huge portion of its poor, black population. The state 
legislature used the crisis to arbitrarily declare public schools as 
“failing” and _converted them 
<http://www.alternet.org/media/most-evil-op-ed-ever-writer-wishes-katrina-storm-hit-chicago>_ 
into charters. They fired 7,500 public school employees who won 
decisions in lower courts but were undone when the U.S. Supreme Court 
_declined to hear 
<http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2015/05/supreme_court_denies_katrina_t.html>_ 
their case. In short, New Orleans became the face of disaster capitalism 
and ethnic cleansing.

While millions of people watched in horror as the levees broke and homes 
were flooded, some watched with glee and, as Kristen McQueary of the 
/Tribune/ editorial board admits, with envy too. They wondered why they 
could not have been fortunate enough to have a black population swept 
out of town in a matter of days.

“/*People who couldn’t evacuate were blamed for their fate.”*/

McQueary veils her racism by expressing concern about deficit spending 
and pension costs. But she also gives herself away with these age old 
code words. She says nothing about sweetheart deals that stole public 
money, the tax cuts or other corporate welfare scams. It must be pointed 
out that the black misleaders aid and abet the crimes committed against 
that city’s population. When Walmart wanted a toe hold in a large 
northern city, black aldermen and women on the city council provided the 
votes. When _Rahm Emanuel 
<http://www.blackagendareport.com/black-misleaders-re-elect-rahm>_ faced 
a serious challenge from Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the misleaders threw in 
their lot with “mayor one percent.”

But these are the facts and they have little to do with McQueary’s sick 
vision for the future. After much criticism she reposted the column with 
a _new title 
<http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-chicago-katrina-financial-disaster-landrieu-new-orleans-mcqueary-emanuel-pers-20150813-column.html>_, 
“Chicago, New Orleans and rebirth” and omitted that she was “praying for 
a real storm.” If she were really honest she would have written, “We 
need a hurricane to wash the black people away” or words to that effect.

She is not alone in longing for post-apocalyptic disaster capital 
triumphs. In 2010 her fellow Chicagoan _Arne Duncan 
<http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/obama-secy-education-says-katrina-best-thing-happen-education-new-orleans>_ 
said that the hurricane was “the best thing to happen to education in 
New Orleans.” As education secretary his goal has been to undo public 
education as we know it and expand the control of charter schools 
throughout the country. Parents have no rights in the charter school 
system but that is why they are desirable to people like Duncan and 
McQueary. There is no public input, no permanent employment. This 
dystopian hell is perfect in their eyes.

“/*Post-Katrina New Orleans has provided no ‘rebirth’ for black people.”*/

The racism directed at black New Orleans was present from the moment the 
storm came ashore. People who couldn’t evacuate were blamed for their 
fate. They were falsely accused of raping children in the Superdome 
shelter, and shooting at helicopters. The press called hungry black 
people looters while white people were given the benefit of the doubt 
and were said to have “_found 
<http://www.salon.com/2005/09/02/photo_controversy/>_” food.

The theme hasn’t changed any in ten years. Black people are still seen 
as undeserving of anything other than being voiceless cogs in the 
system’s wheels. Post-Katrina New Orleans has provided no “rebirth” for 
black people and McQueary knows it. Not only did people lose their 
homes, but they were forced out of town and given no right to return. If 
they were employed and made it back to New Orleans their jobs may have 
been destroyed by the rising water too. Of course these are not 
calamities in McQueary’s twisted world view. She would love to see their 
fate replicated in Chicago.

In a strange way, we should be grateful when people like McQueary lose 
their filters and speak their minds. She is not alone in wanting to see 
big cities cleansed of their black populations and leaving those who 
remain without citizenship rights. It is an ugly dream but it is shared 
by millions of people.

The /Chicago Tribune/ isn’t alone among major newspapers in extolling 
the virtues of post-Katrina life. The /New York Times/ raved about that 
city’s food scene in a post on _twitter 
<https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/628751295801901056>_. “Decade after 
Katrina, New Orleans is a better place to eat than it was before the 
storm.” Perhaps they should have said, “Everything tastes better when 
black people are gone.”


          /*Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in
          BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a
          frequently updated blog as well as at
          */_*http://freedomrider.blogspot.com.*
          <http://freedomrider.blogspot.com/>_/*Ms. Kimberley lives in
          New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at
          Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.*/

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