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Society without Make-Up

by Mumia Abu-Jamal Thursday, Oct. 06, 2005 at 9:47 AM

After the disastrous hurricane Katrina, the rage over the inactivity of the authorities was great. However the censors appeared with their moralizing undertone when indignation was first heard in the media.


Delayed Relief after Hurricane “Katrina” Shows Unvarnished Reality of US Policy

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

[This article published in: Junge Welt, 9/24/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

After the disastrous hurricane “Katrina”, the rage over the inactivity of the authorities was great. However the censors appeared with their moralizing undertone when indignation was first heard in the media. They zoomed in front to denounce everyone who dared speak about the “naked emperor.” “Now is not the right moment to seek culprits!” it was said in Washington.

This camaraderie of government and media recalls other events when openly criticizing political leadership also triggered the reproach of “bad style.” For example, when Wilson Goode, the former black mayor of Philadelphia ordered the police to drop a bomb on the house of the MOVE-organization from a helicopter, he assumed “complete responsibility” afterwards. However neither he nor other perpetrators drew the conclusions. Eleven women, men and children were killed by the bomb or by police cudgels – but there were no culprits – aside from Ramona Africa who spent seven years in prison because she had the insolence of surviving the terror attack on her house!

Did even one politician have to vacate his post after the attacks of September 11, 2005 when thousands died? Instead a female FBI agent was prosecuted who publically admitted she told her superiors early on about possible preparations of terrorist strikes in the US. When the political leadership did not act for a week after “Katrina” while people drowned, starved to death or died of sicknesses because there were neither doctors nor medicines or because they were crowded into the Superdome stadium, this was “not the right moment to seek for perpetrators.”

Has there ever been a moment when the political leaders of this country did not put the blame on someone else who did not live according to the “moral standards” set by them? The state- and federal prisons are crammed full with over two million persons who were pronounced guilty and punished because they violated countless old and new laws.

The US government even started a war because it accused the president of another country of hoarding “weapons of mass destruction.” What is a war other than an all-embracing apportioning of blame against a country and its people because its government was reproached for certain misdeeds?

In view of the horrifying pictures of the misery of blacks in New Orleans and the Gulf coast, the rapper Kanye West said publically at a solidarity concert for the catastrophe victims: “George Bush is not concerned about blacks.” The television station cut short his live appearance and will only broadcast his concerts in the future when it can cut out his disagreeable remarks mocking the president.

Still he was completely right. Can anyone imagine that a catastrophe would break out over a city like Boston inhabited mainly by whites and the government would wait four days until it gave assistance to the tortured victims?

The pictures of people from New Orleans that brought us near their suffering, misery and losses could have been broadcast from Haiti, Rwanda or Cambodia. We should now act as though the help and support of government agencies were granted these people from the first moment. The responsible are worried about the dirt around them.

The photos of the president with black children spread worldwide showed a man whose facial expression revealed he felt like a clansman at a demonstration of the civil rights movement. Ask any Nigerian what he thinks about the pictures on local television or any British woman about the news pictures. They would answer unanimously that they saw frightened black faces and here and there Latinos, Vietnamese and some whites who stared at the camera with blank expressions. They saw the seamy side of the “ownership society” – namely those who own nothing. They saw the US society naked, without make-up and without masks.

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