What have I learned from the fires raging across SoCal?
1. this country's number one priority is not freedom or justice or egalitarianism or the safety or comfort of its citizens; it is private property. the acquisition, protection and deification of property.
this is not christian nation, as those halfwit conservative assholes like to tout while ignoring history, both in word and practice.
this is a capitalist nation. bow down before your hummer, your mcmansion, your $700 dollar dog and your 16-year-old's birthday party, which would make any proper human sick at the waste and vulgarity. you deserve it. it's your right. it's just evidence of the meritocracy!
we are the same backward, hateful, selfish, underhanded, frightened, self-righteous Puritans who landed on New England's shores centuries ago.
being rich, being White, these are the signs of God's favor. if you are not rich, if you are not White, there is no God for you here. welcome to Amerrrrrrica.
2. New Orleans and the whole Katrina situation was a conspiracy. whether it was an explicit conspiracy with clandestine meetings and detailed forethought, or a conspiracy hatched in a moment, in the words "I think we all know what needs to be done here," it doesn't matter. the powers that be conspired to take advantage of the situation to increase their foothold even a millimeter, like they so often do. they killed New Orleans and will resurrect on it's corpse a false city , a Branson of stolen creole culture and two dimensional attempts at the beauty and diversity of the city they killed.
New Orleans had experienced disasters like this before. a whole corps of engineers and it didn't occur to anyone that the levees were insufficient? bullshit. they knew. they sabotaged private escape attempts, they held people at gunpoint without supplies or shelter, they left thousands behind with no organized way to keep safe and healthy, not to mention fed and hydrated. they stole their insurance from them, stole their houses from them. they keep their schools closed. they keep the aid tied up or misallocated. they bring in the private contractors, the mercenaries, capitalist and otherwise.
within days of the hurricane, I listened to professors predict whitewashing, lying, gentrification and cultural destruction. within days. and so many didn't believe. so many said "but they can't do that. not with everyone watching!" as if everyone would really continue to watch.
now they've had two years of neglect and Republican politicians are capitalizing on New Orleans being washed clean of any significant dissenting presence and have criminalized virtually anyone who might stand in their way. they've got the excuses in place to bring down the mean fist of White law and order on the heads of anyone that might compromise the future safety and development of their new theme park. they've gotten their wishes and the ground is primed for big developers to reach into their big pockets and use their big money to push for a safe New Orleans for their future condo occupants. they can build bloated, tacky, anti-cultural shrines to capitalism, where homes owned through generations and hurricanes and racism and poverty had once stood. just like they told me two Septembers ago.
and we're supposed to believe, as all of this continues, as people still wait to receive aid, return home, reclaim their lives (or what could be salvaged of them) that FEMA learned something?
FEMA didn't learn anything they didn't know well before Katrina. all that matters is who
I'm sure I don't have to point out the demographics of the places threatened by these fires. I'm sure you've heard the stories of horses being boarded and having to choose which car to take and all that bourgeois shit.
I realize that the people of SoCal, rich and spoiled and selfish as they may be, are human beings just like the victims of Katrina. it's too bad that the converse isn't more obvious to more people.
these people don't have to worry that their insurance won't get paid or or that everyone will say "well you know that's a risk of living there" or that former first ladies will be talking about how they're better off in a refugee camp or getting turned back at county and city lines by armed government employees or that their property will be systematically stolen from them (especially since many of these people are just the kind of people who do that crap for a living). it's just such a vivid lesson in what we already knew and all I can muster is disgust and anger.
Fox News compared the QC to a summer flea market (I'm guess they don't mean like Baghdad) and gush about how well organized this all is. how FEMA learned from Katrina. we hear from refugees about how well fed they are, how safe they feel, how their pets are boarded and the calvary has arrive and how much FEMA has learned from Katrina.
if you think that this would be any different if the fires had come before Katrina, you're living a lie. the people of SoCal need to stop being complicit in this propaganda campaign to elevate FEMA. it's one thing to take the aid and be grateful, it's another to endorse their efficiency and "improvement" without giving a thought to the fact that New Orleans waits to this day and refusing to acknowledge the bold faced socio-economic differences and what they clearly imply.
it obviously isn't that they suddenly learned all of this magical coordination and efficiency, as though the day before the fires it was business as usual and now that there are fires, there's been a collective bureaucratic epiphany. to allow them to flip the script and rewrite history so that it was somehow something they couldn't possibly have been prepared for (in spite of similar disasters in history, knowledge about the state of the levies, etc) and now they've learned their lesson is just total bunk. it's really upsetting to me that so many folks from SoCal are aiding and abetting this, as though their aid (or, more realistically, their conscience) depends on it.
this country and everything it is supposed to stand for, all those constitutional values we trot out for election and rend limb from limb in the offseason, IS A LIE. it's a fucking lie. I've known this for so long and yet these kinds of failings still shock and upset me.
just a little more than two years ago, I spent nearly a week doing barely anything other than crying, watching the news and attending university panels. now I'm spending more time than I'd like watching news and finding myself enraged instead of sad. I have so many examples of why this situation is blatantly and unapologetically fucked that I can't even put them all into words at the same time.
and the real evidence? the beautiful bit of information that kills all the appeals to the benefit of the doubt and to the economics and all those excuses to avert our eyes, assuage our consciences and just thank god it's not us? Indian Reservations burn to the ground without aid. they shelter themselves, without aid. they go on ignored and not even mentioned in mainstream national media coverage. They get left behind. One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
I find myself, more often than not, just taking for granted that this country is in real and permanent decline and that probably nothing can salvage it. not culturally or in any kind of "good old days"/"kids these days" kind of way. in an "empire in decline" sort of way. such is the reality of history and empires. you can't be on top forever and the U.S. has made it clear that we will sacrifice everything, down to the quality of life of our people. it is almost as though the twentieth century, and the myriad lessons to be learned therein, never happened. it is as though we can't grasp even the simplest lessons of the failures of imperialism or nationalism or authoritarianism, even as we profess to have fought them and won out for all that is good. we refuse to even see the forest for the trees on the issue of capitalism.
we just don't learn
I can't remember the last time I was so fucking disgusted.