Hurricane Katrina as America’s Nakba: does anyone care?

Our September issue featured the story “Big Oil & the Big Easy: Catastrophe and Counterinsurgency in New Orleans” by Frank Morales of The Shadow, outlining military “anti-terrorism” measures to protect Gulf Coast oil infrastructure and arguing that “the federal response to Katrina represents an escalation of the tactics of domestic counter-insurgency.” We also featured the story “New Orleans Public Housing Defenders Face Terror Charges” by Bill Weinberg from AlterNet, on the use of “anti-terrorism” laws against activists engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience to protest the demolition of public housing projects. Our September Exit Poll was: “Why is there no international movement to demand right of return for New Orleans refugees?” We received no responses.

We don’t produce World War 4 Report for our health. All we ask of our readers is that you either send a token monetary donation once a year, or else show that you are reading and thinking about the journalism we produce by replying to the Exit Poll. So, for all of you who failed to either reply this month or send a donation yet this year—we assume the check is in the mail.

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See our last post on the struggle in New Orleans, and our last Exit Poll results.

  1. as I told you, I tried to answer
    Maybe I’m not the only one.

    I assumed that, by referring to the “right of return”, you were not simply lifting a phrase from Morales’ conclusion but also suggesting that this “international movement” would put pressure on the USA to fulfill its moral and legal obligations.

    I didn’t raise the issue of the USA’s international obligations also being domestic law in my answer but this should surely be taken into consideration if there is indeed a legal case to be made: can foreigners put a case to the SCotUS for instance?

    In essence, what I was trying to say in my answer was that the US government doesn’t seem to care one bit about international movements (for the time being anyway). If anyone overseas has any leverage, it’s the japanese, chinese and saudi regimes… and these in turn do not seem to be amenable to public pressure, at least when it comes to foreign policy.
    If there was any potential for an international movement to influence the US governement, you’d have to wonder why nothing was done about Iraq. In 2003, although I felt it was hopeless, we tried to pretend for a while that the USA could be handled like South Africa or Israel… chances are you never heard about that. Sure, we could have done better… a lot better. In any case, if such a movement somehow got off the ground, I’d say the focus would likely be US imperialism (as it should).

    I also wrote about the lack of consciousness and information overseas regarding the Katrina business (and the slow transformation of the USA into a police state in general really). It’s a dangerous blind spot to have because our governments seem to be fond of US policies.

    Finally, I brought up schadendfreude although that’s purely speculation on my part. Few will openly admit to it. I have to say I’m loathe to share with gentle yanks what I felt when I first saw those towers burn 7 years ago.

    As for donations, if you really want people to donate once a year maybe you should mail a friendly reminder. I’d have sworn I donated this year but it turns out it was over a year ago now… not by much but time sure flies!

    1. schadendfreude?
      You can shove your schadendfreude, dude. The repugnant Ward Churchill notwithstanding, the busboys at Windows on the World did not deserve to die for the crimes of US imperialism. I’ve been fighting US imperialism all my adult life, and Allah knows how many years of my life I lost from breathing the toxic post-9-11 air here in lower Manhattan where I live. The notion that the Katrina victims deserved to lose their homes to atone for the crimes of their oppressors is, if possible, even more perverse.

      Israel is utterly contemptuous of international opinion too, and yet there is an international movement in solidarity with the Palestinians. That was our point.

      1. schadenfreude isn’t rational
        It is an impediment to action and even to consciousness however.

        Your response was predicatable, and understandable as well as justified of course. I could have avoided saying this (like I usually do) but I mentionned it because it might be a factor. I don’t think it’s just me.

        I wouldn’t call “chickens coming home to roost” schadenfreude. In any case, it’s a rational argument (however misguided) that can be rationally rebutted.

        For what that’s worth, I disagree somewhat about Israel’s contempteousness. Your point stands but I think it’s easily explained (domestic politics without even an oppressed nationality). The relative lack of a movement regarding Iraq seems harder to explain.
        One thing you might not appreciate is that, however pointless the action, there are practical difficulties in targetting the USA with anything more than demos, letter-writing and such. Israel is a small country.

          1. I’m a foreigner, remember?
            And I suspect many of your compatriots wouldn’t know what you’re talking about either.
            As far as I know, there are the first nations, Puerto Rico and perhaps the mexicans (because of the mexican war). Possibly maybe there’s the Confederation nostalgics… at least they’ve got a flag. Maybe I’m forgotting something.

            If that’s what you were thinking about, I understand black nationalism as being a political movement using a powerful metaphor, a kind of appropration of the discourse of nationalism that was very popular at one time. I would not be surprised if there were those who take it litterally… but I would be surprised if that wasn’t very marginal.

            I have now disclosed my ignorance of national politics in the USA.
            Maybe that was the crux of the problem: people around the world aren’t seeing it like you do from the inside perhaps?

            1. Do you live in North Korea?
              The cliché in Europe is that we Americans don’t know anything about the rest of the world. Can you possibly be so ignorant of American history over on your side of the pond that you don’t recognize African Americans as an “oppressed nationality”? The mind boggles.

  2. We missed this one
    This one got lost in our e-mail vortex. From Margery Coffey in Rosalie, Neb.:

    Because nobody wants to upset the crazies in the White House.