It’s not a surprise to me that our President’s reactions to the horrors along the Gulf Coast have seemed to be something less than heartfelt or imbued with empathy, and my personal opinion is that it’s pretty easy to reconcile that observation with the fact that the majority of people whose lives have been destroyed by Katrina appear to be black, underprivileged, and relatively dependent on the assistance of their government to recover from a tragedy of this scope. I guess I never fully understood how Bush acquired those values, though, but hearing about his mother’s take on the refugees in the Astrodome today, I’m pretty sure I get it now. (Crooks and Liars has the audio, as well.) I always thought that Barbara Bush was a stately woman, but apparently she’s also a bit of an elitist, and has a terrible perspective on one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the United States.

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Disappointing. Disheartening.

I’d argue that the race thing seems overplayed because the media is—-rightly!—-focusing on New Orleans, where the large majority of folks unable to evacuate were black. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is pretty white, though: Hancock County, home to Bay St. Louis, some of the worst devastation, and most of my Coastie family, is 90% white; Harrison County, home to Biloxi and Gulfport and a lot of the early coverage on CNN, is 74% white; Jackson County, home to Pascagoula and Trent Lott, is 76% white. Compare this to Mississippi’s overall demographics, where just 60% of the state is white.

[I knew this instinctually, but I used to live in Scott County, which is just 57% white. If you’re white in Mississippi but not from there [my family’s from there, but I was 12 when we moved from Ohio], you notice these things.]

Compare this to the demographics of New Orleans, and you’ll see why extensive coverage of the events there easily make this appear to be a racial issue—-whether it is in truth or not.

[I personally think that the slow response is more of a class issue than a race issue, and that it also speaks to the fact that both states are unimportant politically, the recent Louisiana Senatorial elections notwithstanding. But that’s just my small electoral college standing biases showing.]

• Posted by: Geof F. Morris on Sep 7, 2005, 11:45 AM

There’s a lot of talk about how the slow response to Hurricane Katrina’s effects might be evidence of racial bias. I just spewed this in a comemnt on Jason Levine’s commentspace, and I’ll replicate it here, because I did some …

• Pinged by The Indiana Jones School of Management on Sep 7, 2005, 11:49 AM

Geof, that’s interesting, and you’re right that (while it appears to have gotten its spine back) the media’s portrayal of the disaster has definitely shaped the way those of us some distance from the coast are viewing everything. That being said, I think that I wasn’t particularly clear in my post — I really meant that those most affected are of a different race OR class than our President, not necessarily combined. :)

• Posted by: Jason on Sep 7, 2005, 3:23 PM

Oh, yeah … and I went off on a tangent, man. Sorry about that. I’m really snookered about it being a class thing, because … well, because I come from hard-tack cracker working-class poor Mississippi stock, going back to my dad’s folks. Sure, Dad bootstrapped himself [thanks, AFROTC!], and in many ways, so did I, but … I’ve got family directly in the damaged area, good working-class folk that think I’ve gone high-falutin’ on ‘em. [And mebbe I have.]

But … yeah, damn, it’s a serious class issue, and one Mississippians are used to, unfortunately. Sometimes, we wondered if we were a part of the Union anymore … and then the 1990s happened, with Clinton and Lott getting power. Cuh-razy, man.

Sadly, though, I just don’t see many folks from truly working-class backgrounds that are still close enough to their roots making it in major national politics … and that’s selection bias on that end of things, too, unfortunately. It’s a frickin’ shame, too.

• Posted by: Geof F. Morris on Sep 7, 2005, 6:22 PM
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