Now that another major American city is struggling to recover from a hurricane, I’m reminded of the last big one and the response that came in the aftermath.
You my recall the swell of pundits and talk radio ingrates casting all sorts of judgment on the victims of Hurricane Katrina; they were morons for living there, for not leaving, how the ninth ward needed razed and remolded by people who only slid through on the occasional book tour but knew best. One of those people was David Brooks, who, despite being horribly wrong on every major event of the last decade, remains a highly paid giver of opinions. While the character in the strip isn’t Brooks per se, he bears a certain resemblance (it’s the smugness). Here’s Brooks in The Times on “Katrina’s Silver Lining” on September 8, 2005, while they were still pulling bodies out of houses.
If we just put up new buildings and allow the same people to move back into their old neighborhoods, then urban New Orleans will become just as rundown and dysfunctional as before.
That’s why the second rule of rebuilding should be: Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. The only chance we have to break the cycle of poverty is to integrate people who lack middle-class skills into neighborhoods with people who possess these skills and who insist on certain standards of behavior.
I’m guessing one standard of behavior he isn’t insisting on is “not being a condescending douche.” While areas in New Jersey and New York are not nearly as devastated as New Orleans, it’s hard to overlook the different reactions. One thing remains the same, however: the people who were already underserved in society got it the worst.
A hat tip to Kevin Allman of The Gambit for reminding me about all this horribleness.