2005 September 01 Thursday
New Orleans Demonstrates Power Of Race Taboo In America

Writing for Slate Jack Shafer notes that TV newscasters steer clear of discussing the race of the people shown in New Orleans looting or just simply trying to get out.

I can't say I saw everything that the TV newscasters pumped out about Katrina, but I viewed enough repeated segments to say with 90 percent confidence that broadcasters covering the New Orleans end of the disaster demurred from mentioning two topics that must have occurred to every sentient viewer: race and class.

Nearly every rescued person, temporary resident of the Superdome, looter, or loiterer on the high ground of the freeway I saw on TV was African-American. And from the look of it, they weren't wealthy residents of the Garden District. This storm appears to have hurt blacks more directly than whites, but the broadcasters scarcely mentioned that fact.

While Shafer at least brings up the elephant in the room he still dances around and gives predictable liberal public lines without shedding much insight on why the events in New Orleans have taken such a terrible turn.

A life long liberal Democrat friend called me up and said "I don't want to sound racist or anything" and then launched into a tirade about black looting in New Orleans. This is how honest discussion of race in America takes place: in private between people who are fearful of revealing their thoughts on racial differences. My friend knows me well enough to know I won't repeat anything he said. So I get to hear what he really thinks. But in public people who disagree with the liberal taboo rules on race stay silent or mouth platitudes that keep them off the screen of taboo enforcers.

Some people express shock about the looting and armed bands of thugs roaming New Orleans. But blacks commit crimes at over 9 times the rate of whites and lower class people commit crimes at higher rates than middle and upper class people. The thin blue line holds back even greater criminality. Take that line away and large scale looting by a lower class black urban population just seems inevitable.

A helicopter evacuation service had to be suspended due to fears of gunfire.

But the ambulance service in charge of taking the sick and injured from the Superdome suspended flights after a shot was reported fired at a military helicopter. Richard Zuschlag, chief of Acadian Ambulance, said it had become too dangerous for his pilots.

FEMA has also suspended some operations due to lawlessness.

FEMA has had to suspend rescue operations in some areas after gunfire broke out.

Imagine an America where the taboo against discussing racial differences did not exist. In pre-disaster and immediate post-disaster planning the need to rapidly bring in large numbers of troops to maintain order in a large lower class black population would have been recognized and acted upon. New Orleans would have gone through far less looting (and likely rape, assault, and murder) than it has gone through under the liberal racial taboo regime. The liberal taboo has high costs. Turn on CNN or Fox or MSNBC and you can watch the costs play out.

Update: Zach at the Our Way Of Life blog makes an excellent observation when he points out the significance of a picture of flooded New Orleans city buses that the complaining mayor of New Orleans did not use to evacuate the city as the hurricane approached. This is pure incompetence.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 September 01 12:17 PM  Cultural Wars Western

John S Bolton said at September 1, 2005 3:27 PM:

Offcials and public commentators don't seem to have permitted themselves to observe that blacks don't often swim and won't go into water that is more than wading depth. They will wait for rescuers; meanwhile, hundreds will die, giving America a third world aspect, so that offcials and others can posture as antiracist or unprejudiced. These taboos are lethal, decisionmakers elevate insensate, self blinding deliberate ignorance into a virtue, and ignominious death multiplies. Scholars, who ought more than others to be loyal to civilization, instead provide alibis for looters, offcial incompetence and general savagery. The WSJ, 9 1 05, makes it sound like New Orleans' problem is too few third world immigrants, and too much old cultural inheritance and identity, leading to excess tourism!

Sean said at September 1, 2005 7:01 PM:

Shafer, etc seem to miss the fact that the reason the storm has affected black people more isn't because the mean ol' white man is out to get them, it's because this sort of thing always affects poor people more than rich people and black people are more likely to be poor than white people are. I really don't see how writing articles like Shafer's is improving the matter. How, exactly, is news coverage going to benefit if they spend more time saying "gee, it sure does suck to be poor"?

Rescuing people is hard, let's just blame everything on the Republicans and act like we're accomplishing something.

Anon55 said at September 1, 2005 7:04 PM:

Race is just a sidestory.

America should be ashamed. Where are the airdrops of food? Of Water? Infants are dying. Diabetics are going into shock. This is America?

Bush had the audacity to say that no one expected the levees to fail. He should have asked FEMA. They had levees breaking in New Orleans on their top 3 list of national disasters.

The shame from America's response is sad.

Lurker said at September 1, 2005 7:09 PM:

Where is the national guard? ...oh wait... nevermind.......

Nigel said at September 1, 2005 7:15 PM:

Have any commentators compared what's happened in New Orleans to when there were the massive floods in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa?

D Flinchum said at September 1, 2005 7:18 PM:

Political correctness is the new McCarthyism. It shuts down intelligent discourse and makes it impossible to solve problems that are we are prefectly capable of solving otherwise.

Dan said at September 2, 2005 7:43 AM:

Three comments. One.I personally was not surprised by what went down after the hurricaine, anybody who thinks that a breakdown of civilization cant happen in cUS is wrong. Once the power grid is gone and shipments of food stop coming its over. In a week there will be total chaos AND breakdown every where. Starving, desperate people are not goin to worry about legal nicties Considering race let the demographics speak, who lives there will be the ones mostly effected. The middle and upper classes largely evacuated.
Two. Large portions of major american cities are largely off limits to police currently. By this I mean,a report of a holdup is called in on the south side of Chicago. Police response is 15 minutes later to send in three cars as a caravan with lights flahing and sirens blaring fro blocks, of course by then the perpertrators are long gone. It is simply too risky for police to do it in any other way.
THREE Even though the geography of New Orleans made it a disaster in waiting, there are others out there. South Florida (Miami Ft Lauderdale etc.)has bascially ony 4 ways in or out I95, the tollway North. Tamiani Trail and Alligator Alley west. A limited number could get out on the A1A but that is essntally a beacfront road and would clog quickly. Any attempt tp evacuate South Florida is hopeless and if the grid goes down and the food shipments stop DISASTER, but on a scale that makes New Orleans look minor..

Brent said at September 2, 2005 8:40 AM:

The New Orleans underclass, mainly black, has a new activity for two or three days' standing: waiting for whitey to come and bail 'em out.

Mother Nature just administered an IQ test. Get out--if one has a car, money, and some brains--or stay and stew in the sickwater.

This is another instance of black behavior corroborating the racists' view of them; so much so I think another hole has been punctured in the orwellain doublespeak on race.

I mean the young hoodlums down there didn't have to turn the area into Port-au-Prince so quickly. And with so much alacrity.

John S Bolton said at September 2, 2005 4:52 PM:

The racial patronage sinecure holders ran away from their responsbilities. There is no solidarity among the opportunists and those whom they supposedly represent. A devil take the hindmost attitude becomes more concentrated, as the competent vacated as per instructions, leaving the incompetent to demonstrate their lack of any solidarity with each other.

John S Bolton said at September 2, 2005 6:14 PM:

The natural winnowing for lack of foresight and thus for low IQ, and fatalistic attitudes, selects also for low empathy and considerateness, and higher violence. Once their weakness from lack of food goes away, there will probably be more violence against rescuers who don't honor the street code of taking care of the bullies first.

Jorge D.C. said at September 4, 2005 10:14 PM:

Imagine an America where the taboo against discussing racial differences did not exist.

I am viscerally angry along with millions of others after the spectacle in the cradle of corruption that is New Orleans. But when I read the above line in the main article here, it struck me that if the taboo didn't exist then a chain reaction would be set in motion that will get very ugly.

If the taboo is removed the gloves are gonna come off in countless corners of society. The low intensity race war that black males have prosecuted against whites in the past 40 years is sickening. Blacks have targeted whites. There can be no doubt. And they have been rewarded with prison terms.

But removing the taboo will mean a turning of the tables. A real mean season. There are tens of millions of whites who will be intellectually justified in pursuing the old style hardline race relations. Is that what we really want?

I think the entire problem is that increased browning of the nation is making it more difficult to put blacks on a pedestal. If we were still 85-90% white we could afford to make a racial exception for low black achievement ad infinitum. But as the we lurch toward a non-white majority it becomes impossible to maintain the generosity. This is the problem.

Bottom line: I think you can either have the phony race regime of today or an apartheid system. I think the middle ground is an illusion. Erasing the social taboos will quickly lead to legal ramifications. Courts would have to consider racial abilities/limitations and rule accordingly etc.

If you ask what is the doable solution I say ending all immigration legal and illegal is possible. That is a realistic stop gap measure.

Pragmatic racial theory will never be embraced by the political elites: multi-racial societies are in a permanent pre-civil-war state by their very nature. Face it. If blacks had the numbers they would've waged an extermination campaign against whites in America a long time ago. Even the perceived low friction white-asian relationship would be powder keg if the population numbers weren't so lopsided.

The races became races in the first place for a reason: They prosper when physically apart from each other in Darwin speak.

But so what? Good luck changing minds or even getting an audience. Once you are in a multi-racial society the only path forward is through bitter civil race war. The utopian racial thought regime will have the votes right up until the end [NIMBY good intentions] and therefore never be required to wake up. The regime will instead be devoured and destroyed, in sudden convulsions. This is the history of nations.

Randall Parker said at September 4, 2005 10:47 PM:

Jorge D.C.,

I think you are wrong in your fear of the effects of outing the truth.

First of all, on a residential level we already live in a racially divided nation. White, East Asian, South Asian, and other ethnic and racial groups already live their lives according to the belief that blacks are more dangerous.

Second, if the truth is outed then we will be able to take more effective measurse to reduce the cost of the differences. Honest policies set according to the real facts would reduce the amount of victimhood by one members of higher crime races against lower crime races. The reduced amount of victimhood would reduce the amount of resentment on the part of the lower crime races.

Third, the lower crime races are really lower crime races and would continue to be lower crime races - including toward higher crime races - even if they said the truth right out loud. Most white people do not want to systematically discriminate against blacks. There'd be a solid majority against unfair treatment. Look back 50 years. Lots of people who believed that blacks were less intelligent on average supported greater rights for blacks.

Look, the truth is goint to become undeniable in the mainstream once DNA sequencing costs fall another few orders of magnitude. I figure the taboo to suppress discussion about racial differences in the mainstream media has 5 or 10 years to run tops. After that the DNA evidence will be too great to deny.

Svigor said at September 5, 2005 1:12 PM:

Randall, I think you underestimate or are unaware of some of the forces in play. The media is under no, NO obligation (internal or external) to report the truth.

Debora said at September 5, 2005 2:49 PM:

I have watched a lot of the coverage, and read many newspapers and articles regarding the Hurricane aftermath. What has come across loud and clear is:

Governor Blanco could do little more than show her anger about looting.

Governor Blanco failed to call in the National Guard at her earliest opportunity even after she had calls they were ready to be in LA after the Hurricane.

Governor Blanco request 24 hours to "think about" President Bush's proposal to get more assistance in Louisana (HELLO?)

Governor Blanco has now failed Louisana by failing to let the Federal Government take charge of Lousiana!

Governor Blanco is a disgrace to Louisana and the United States.

Blamhead said at September 14, 2005 3:19 AM:

A simple mathematical principle will help explain why the efforts to evacuate New orleans has been slower than many people think it should have been. If you have a rescue vehicle that can carry a 500 lb payload, you can rescue five people weighing 100 lbs or you can rescue two people weighing 250 lbs. Look at the pictures of the people who are stranded in New Orleans and it's obvious that they're just too damn fat. Add in a culture of not thinking for themselves and an expectation that they are entitled to be rescued instead of helping themselves and you got a recipe for disaster.

Sarah said at October 20, 2005 12:06 AM:

O.k the blame game is so old its sick. #1 president Bush is not too blame for what happened in hurricane Katrina. People knew about the hurricane, they had a choice. #2 A large percent of the hurricane victims were wealfare recipients, people who usually dont work, or do anything for themselves. They would much rather sit there and do nothing for themselves and wait for someone else to do it for them. I can tell you from experience in my home town that black people feel the world owes them everything. White people are to blame for everything bad in their lives, they are not responsible for any wrong doing or bad choices made, whites are. Pick up the newspaper or turn it on, black people are killing black people! I have known more black people who are prejudice of whites than vice versa. If New Orleans were full of any other race and the result were the same, I don't think "race" would ever be an issue! #3, I have a father and brother and many other relatives who served or are serving in the military and if they were sent to render aid only to be shot at, well excuse me but I would insist my loved one be brought out of there! Usually in a time of crisis people will pull together, help each other, but it seems you get in an enviroment that consist of mostly black........what happens? They kill, steal, rape. I know from being in school, or being in line at the store the majority are extremely rude, make comments about how "they' have to wait in line. Noone owes them anything, It seems to me black people have more a problem with being black than others have a problem with it. I heard a women in the store just this week talking about how she has several of her family members staying with her from New Orleans and she wanted them gone, she couldnt handle it anymore, she said they recieved money and do nothing. I worked with my husband a couple of days recently, and two of our jobs were at a construction site in the black communities in our area, an area primarily of wealfare recipients. It was about 10:00 in the morning on a tuesday, not many people were out and about at first, but as it got a little later more and more people started coming out of their houses, now if you have ever seen the movie Friday, well this was the live version. Noone getting into their cars to go off to work, or school, no, just sitting on the hood of their cars walking up and down the street in and out of neighbors houses..................smoking pot right their not a care in the world.

I am 28 years old from a fairly well off family. My husband and I met while I was a senior in high school, my plans had taken a turn and two years after we married we had our first child. My husband is in college working on his degree in civil engineering. I myself am staying home with my children. Being without insurance from my husbands job, and living on a tight income I sought help from the government. I figured why not we pay for it in our taxes anyway. Well I have never been treated more rude by people in my life, there were very few whites in the office and I was looked at in such a hateful way. The case workers were black and were very ugly toward me, as if I had no right to be there. Later when I had to go back and my case was being renewed, the woman had been very hateful to me, a week later I recieved a letter from dhs saying my childrens insurance had ended. I called my case worker and she told me she didnt know why and would send me another application. I sent it in and was approved, two weeks later I recieved another letter, i called my case worker and she said she didnt know what was going on, so she looked up my file and said I dont even know who this women is. When she read me the name it was the same ugly woman from my local office, not even in the same city as my childrens case worker. She was cancelling my childrens insurance everytime they recieved it. The woman who helped my resolve this (my case worker) was a black woman, I am not saying they are ALL this way, but the majority of them are. Another thing I learned if you are a hard working individual who makes an honest living and works hard to take care of your family, it doesnt matter if your ship is sinking you'll get more help if your black, more rspect, and more money. Why in the world should they work? Most of the bills are paid, food stamps are plentiful and they can take their children to the dr when sick.

I never owned any slaves neither did my family so why should I have to suffer the ignorance of this? If you look way back black people use to be very hardworking people, not afraid to earn their money, not afraid of a little hard work. I think a big part of this is from all the persistant history we learn in school. I remember it like it was yesterday. Black history month, good grief. We spend a whole month in school history on this? Are you serious? I hardly knew anything of the jews until I pursued the information on my own, who by the way were treated with much more hate and violence, were tortured, mutalated, murdered like diseased cattle. Its also crazy that so many people were so upset about the black men killed in nam. It disgust me that my father was spit on by black people when he came home from the war. How dare you. You want to live in this country yet you dont want to lift a finger to help it? Are we forgetting the civil war here? Hello? who fought in that war. If we started a white college fund there would be riots everywhere. There is a very large high dollar church here, a black church, which set up a Katrina Relief Fund...............for BLACKS. Now if someone set up a whites only fund??????? This is a church for crying out loud. And the recent riot situation? I certainly don't agree with the Natzi thing but they are entitled. I didnt see any one setting fires at the millions more march now did I?

One last thing, if I were stuck in new orleans I wouldnt sit on my butt with my babies in such an aweful crowd. What person would stay in that mess, dead bodies? Rape? I would have had my children strapped to my back if I had to and I would have started walking, walking as far as I could get! To the next town, to an open field. Lots of people did actually, but too few. I saw so many images of small children and babies I wanted to just go get them, take them away, why just sit!!!!! Because thats what they are use too.

I think it's about that time. Hurricanes, Floods, Earthquakes, Fires, Tsunamis, People should pick up the bible and start gettin with it. Our world is such a mess, and if anyone is to take blame, well I say we should all look in the mirror.

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