Sunday, September 04, 2005

Michael Benner's Ruts & Grooves Newsletter

Michael Benner’s
Ruts & Grooves
Commentary for Sentient Beings
September 4, 2005

If America shows weakness and uncertainty, the world will drift toward tragedy. That will not happen on my watch.
— George W. Bush (1946 - )

No shame, no contrition, a total denial of responsibility, and not a single heartfelt apology — what more evidence does anyone need that the U.S. federal government and the mega-corporate interests it represents are led by soulless creatures? The suffering of the impoverished Americans living along the Gulf Coast is more the result of the Faustian Bargain made by Democrats and Republicans alike than any hurricane or flood.

The tragedy that has befallen the poor people who had no means of evacuation is a disaster on at least three levels. In the most obvious sense, it is a disaster of wind and water. President Bush calls it a “natural” disaster and insists the breech of the levees was unforeseeable. More lies from the Master of Deceit.

In recent years, Scientific American and National Geographic magazines have published extensive articles detailing this very scenario. In 2002, the New Orleans daily newspaper, The Times Picyuane published an award-winning, five-part series called “Washing Away” in which it predicted, “Amid this maelstrom, the estimated 200,000 or more people left behind in an evacuation will be struggling to survive. Some will be housed at the Superdome, the designated shelter in New Orleans for people too sick or infirm to leave the city. Others will end up in last-minute emergency refuges that will offer minimal safety. But many will simply be on their own, in homes or looking for high ground.

“Thousands will drown while trapped in homes or cars by rising water. Others will be washed away or crushed by debris. Survivors will end up trapped on roofs, in buildings or on high ground surrounded by water, with no means of escape and little food or fresh water, perhaps for several days.” (Full series is posted at: )

Secondly, Katrina has exposed the long-standing injustices of poverty and racism in the U.S., especially in the Heart of Dixie. Southern gentlemen still rape the women and lynch the men of color, but in less obvious ways. Their failure, decade after decade, to address widespread hunger, homelessness, unemployment, and education in any meaningful way is criminal. Even before Katrina struck land a week ago, fully 50-percent of the children in New Orleans lived in poverty. Racism, personal and institutional, reinforces the cycles of poverty generation after generation.

But on an even more fundamental level, America has pursued the ethic of self-interest to the virtual exclusion of community-interest in the “greater good.” Somehow burgeoning federal deficits and Orwellian assaults on human rights are promoted by those who object to the excesses of big government and big spenders. And so there’s plenty of money for war, corporate welfare, and tax cuts for the richest one percent, but little or nothing for those who most need help.

And so the ultimate crisis is cultural. Will the selfish, arrogant, ugly American prevail in his self-interest and materialism? Or will those of conscience restore balance to a nation born of a vision of equality in human rights and opportunities? How can the United States promote democracy abroad when it fails so miserably at home?

In storm-ravaged areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, white people “salvage” needed supplies of food and water, yet people of color are officially targeted as “looters.” There’s been some debate in the media about the appropriateness of calling the Gulf Coast evacuees “refugees.” Maybe we should all begin to think of ourselves simply as “insurgents.”



At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one is "souless". There are many of us on this planet who are misguided and unable, at the moment, to see or sense a larger connection with all.

To give Bush the label "Master of Deceit" is to attribute too much power to someone who is obviously in a confused state of mind.

While yours is powerful writing that pulls on our emotions, Michael, we are still left waiting for real solutions from people in leadership positions. It is not enough to point a finger at a culprit and throw angry words and labels around.

What we get time and time again is a series of gruesome "facts" about how this country and the world are going to Hell, as if nothing tragic has ever occurred before this. We have become over-educated in the crimes of the government with a serious lack of education in problem solving. This leads us only into a victim mentality of fear and powerlessness. People who are in this state of mind are much easier to control, inconsistent and weak-willed.

When one has grown up in Hell, as I have, one learns to appreciate the gifts and miracles that happen every moment. I have learned, also, to take the "Evil" masks off of those humans who have done terrible things to other humans for their own twisted reasons and to see, instead of an all-powerful monster, a small and scared child who needs guidance.

It is time to empower our community and work within it to support ourselves and those around us. It is time to take little Georgie down from his position of Powerful Evil Dictator. We are not victims of anything. We are not controlled by the government. We are the creators of the world we live in. We are, and always will be, free souls.

At 10:13 PM, Anonymous bbq said...

Interesting blog. Keep up the good work.


BBQ Lover


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