Friday, September 02, 2005

Comfortable white northerners

Went to Vitales for drinks with a group of coworkers last night. It was the first of a monthly get-together thing we're trying to get going again after a year-or-so hiatus.

Of course one of the first topics of conversation was Hurricane Katrina and the utter hoplessness she left behind, especially in New Orleans. People were shaking their heads at reports of snipers shooting at rescue workers and at the looting taking place all over the city. But I was disturbed by the comment of one guy in our group -- something to the effect of "all looters should be shot."

I registered a loud protest at this but nobody took me seriously. Maybe I wasn't loud enough. But that was a totally ignorant statement from a privileged white boy. Not that there's an excuse for any of the acts against humanity that are being committed in New Orleans right now: the looting, robbing, shooting, raping, and on and on. But neither is there room for comfortable white northerners to be smugly criticizing something we can't begin to fathom; something we are so far removed from so as to be in another world altogether. None of us in Michigan can even come close to knowing the pain, the loss, the poverty at the basest level. None of us has a thing to say.

Chris Nolan and Tony Pierce also touch on the issue. (Links from Doc Searls)

More: Local indie news outlet MediaMouse offers its take.


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