Last night, I watched the first half of Spike Lee's documentary on Katrina and New Orleans, When the Levee Broke. The only other film that has shaken me in terms of race relations in the US was when I first saw, Roots, as a kid. I remember not being able to speak to white people for 3 days after that series.
While "When the Levee Broke" does not make me want to stop talking to white people, it does make me want to shout at our public officials and the people who keep voting uncaring and out of touch politicians into office. The two most shocking aspects of the film for me where:
Some conspiracy theories are actually based on historical empirical knowledge
Accusations that the levees where intentially bombed or left unfinished and weak are not so crazy when the same levees were dynamited in 1929 and 1964 to flood the 9th Ward and other areas in order to protect the City of New Orlean's more affluent areas, including the French Quarter. The way in which rationalist governmentatity seeks to discount the perspectives of people who know their history fills me with a rage for the arrogance on leadership, which does not know that its purpose is to lead through service.
The American leadership is out of touch with the reality of American lives
The recalling of who was where days 3 to 5 of the tragedy again demonstrates that leadership should be based on empathy for the people whom you serve not on a decontextualised list of priorities. The image of President Bush flying over the tragedy represents the perils of an orbiting approach to decision-making, whether that orbiting is based on the belief in a strong ideology or political expediency. When an elected official takes an oath of service, he or she should be given a curse. This curse would make them feel the pain and anguish of the most desperate and underserved human that his or her decisions affect.