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September 10, 2005


Jim E.

So you -- a Times bashing conservative -- is upset that the (so-called) "liberally biased" Times *didn't* push the race and class angle in the story?


You should probably re-read what he wrote. Kind of a stupid question. Even without the scare quotes.

Nathan Lanier

Or maybe, *gasp, he's calls it simply as he sees it without letting desultory political dichotomies get in the way.

The Zero Boss

Tom, I think I heard this exact same story on This American Life last night. I can't swear it's the same woman telling it, but in the TAL story, the woman noted that she and her husband were white, but that most of the rest of their group was black.

Does that prove it was racially motivated? No. but does that even matter? It was heartless and callous even if race wasn't a factor at all.

M. Simon

You have to wonder why there are so many poor black folks in Louisiana. A state run by compassionate Democrats who care about black folks and want to raise them out of poverty.

Jim E.

"Naturally, I can't find an example just now,"



OK, I'm sold - it was a completely racist policy that Gretna officials adopted and implemented. Their claims of not having the resources to take in refugees, hurting not only the refugees but their own local citizens is total BS if not heartless Republicanism. Let's expose these Bushtown Chimpies - which party do they belong to? Oops! Never mind. No story here. Move along.


Limbaugh,(on Friday/last hour) reported that the spokesman from NO pd, who killed himself, had actually done so after he came home from helping find survivors, to find both his daughter and wife rape/murdered. He also reported that a female 'Neville' (charmane?) was a victim of rape while trying to help.

I take this with a big grain of salt, but even if this was a rumor that was believed at the time, I'm quite sure that the Gretna sheriff had it as a mitigating factor.

IF Limbaugh is wrong, he deserves flack for saying this, but if he is right...the survivors will be talking, I wonder what they have to say...


Those two EMT's whose report this was based on write for the Socialist Worker. Not that there's anything wrong with that....


This story reminds me of the awful scene in Titanic after the ship goes down and the few lifeboats retreat from the people in the water because they're afraid too many will try to climb aboard and swamp their boats and they'll all drown...

I don't know what the Gretna police ought to have done - where their responsibility should have been: are they responsible to Gretna alone, with a duty to protect it from being overwhelmed with refugees, or should they answer to a more overarching moral responsibility to aid and succor? You can make a case either way. Another piece of this tragedy, if the racism angle turns out not to be true.

I have an extremely hard time believing that a couple of San Francisco EMTs were able to "decode" the "coded language" of the Gretna police. My husband is always telling me to stop "interpreting" what he says because it's much easier and more accurate just to listen to what he's saying than to read hidden meanings into it, and that's just the old Mars/Venus divide. I'd argue that the San Francisco/Deep South divide is somewhat more of a bottomless chasm. In seven adult years in California and my continuing visits there every year, I have yet to hear anything like an assignment of positive motives to anyone from the South. Or at least any white Southerner. There's a starting assumption that all white Southerners are throwbacks to Huey Long and that all Southern locales are Hazzard County, except maybe New Orleans which is just "all that jazz."


C'mon Jamie, *everyone* just "knows" that all white people who grew up in the Deep South are hateful, racist rednecks. In fact, some people who didn't grow up in the Deep South move there because they're hateful, racist rednecks at heart. In fact, the only white people you can trust not to be hateful, racists are those few in compassionate (but almost entirely non-black) enclaves like the People's Republic of Berkley, The People's Republic of Ann Arbor, The People's Republic of Madison and similar safe havens for the liberated Marxists of our day. You can tell them in person by their compassionate head tilt and the fact that they're wearing all-natural clothing that costs more than a poor black person makes in a month.

I bet if we could see Jim E. he have his head sympathetically tilted, be wearing all-natural hand-woven clothing from Nicaragua, Birkenstocks that cost over $200, and designer sunglasses to protect his sympathetic eyes, perhaps as he stood by his $1700 bicycle he uses when it's convenient.

Of course, he could spend less on himself and more on the poor, but then he'd be way too like the rightwing Bible-pounders.

D. Gorton

I know Gretna, Louisiana, relatively well. It is a "bedroom" community in the sense that most of the people work in New Orleans. However, it is an old, working class, community and mostly white. The sheriff, and all of his predecessors are Democrats, though that means something different in Lousisiana than, say, Massachusetts.

However, there is something more here. Growing up along the Mississippi River, I know the history of "Shotgun Quarantine".

New Orleans was the commercial center of the Mississippi river Region -extending as far north as St. Louis. From time to time there would be epidemics, like cholera and Yellow Fever, that would sweep up the Delta from New Orleans. The merchants in New Orleans would always hide the fact that the epidemic had started - otherwise trade would dry up- and they would go broke. The river boats operating out of New Orleans would carry the diseases with their passengers passing on the illness before they died. The only defense that people along the river had against the epidemics was to impose "Shotgun Quarantine". I learned about this as a child. The men of the town would patrol its outskirts and they would refuse entry to anyone from outside the town.

There were terrible scenes of refugees from the plague walking along country roads, escaping New Orleans, and meeting up with the patrols. The men would shoot shotguns over their heads and turn them around, regardless of race. It was the only way that they knew to protect their families from contagion. In most cases it was a futile effort since the mosquitos didn't worry about shotguns.

But, I think we saw the "Shotgun Quarantine" resurrected at the bridge.

In the deep south, history is not history. Its not even the past. It is what you live with, and how you act.

richard mcenroe

D. Gorton — Well, yeah, but the Gretna cops didn't think the people from New Orleans were carrying a disease. They thought they were the disease.


What the NYT is whitewashing is the socialism angle. The original screed is written from a rather skewed perspective.

The NYT's job should be to report on that original perspective and tell us what's true and what's false. Instead, they only briefly mentioned where the article first appeared and then they cherry-picked the non-socialist quotes.

More on this at Katrina Coverage


The folks at the NYT know we can't have any deviation from the Bush bashing by getting the police in Gretna into the fray.


Now, if race would be allowed to creep into their other reporting...

Nicholas Wade did a pretty decent job reporting on Dr. Bruce Lahn's research that the brain is still evolving and that two alleles associated with cognition have differential distributions across populations:

They report that with microcephalin, a new allele arose about 37,000 years ago, although it could have appeared as early as 60,000 or as late as 14,000 years ago. Some 70 percent or more of people in most European and East Asian populations carry this allele of the gene, as do 100 percent of those in three South American Indian populations, but the allele is much rarer in most sub-Saharan Africans.

With the other gene, ASPM, a new allele emerged some time between 14,100 and 500 years ago, the researchers favoring a mid-way date of 5,800 years. The allele has attained a frequency of about 50 percent in populations of the Middle East and Europe, is less common in East Asia, and found at low frequency in some sub-Saharan Africa peoples.

I'd say that there's little sugar-coating there. Sure, the torturous caveats abound, but the science is reported.

So, I think it really depends on the reporter, their editor, or perhaps the beat they're on, rather than the whole organization.

Crime and disaster reporting probably aren't as objective as science reporting.


Usually the Times subscribes to the common All the News Politically Correct Enough to Print ethic of the Left to expunge the high amount of African-Americans who turn up in routine crime reports.

Here, however, they would seem to be covering up an anti-black racist allegation. Why? Because of NYT sympathies with anti-black racial attitudes? More likely, because of the pro-local Demo, anti-Washington GOP spin being put on the Katrina response in order to tar Bush with maximal effectiveness.

Its the marching order of the day. One that Hillary is running with, signalling the entire Demo appartus to follow.

Steven J.

Well, working class homeowners want to protect their property too, I have no doubt.

Here in the tiny town of St. Gabriel, nearly 70 miles from New Orleans, FEMA has turned a massive, 125,000-square-foot warehouse into a morgue to process and identify the bodies. Medical examiners have now started round-the-clock operations to X-ray, photograph, fingerprint and take DNA samples from the victims.
THERESA ROY, RESIDENT OF ST. GABRIEL: I'd rather have them here dead than alive. And at least they're not robbing you and you have to worry about feeding them.


Steven J.

Usually the Times subscribes to the common All the News Politically Correct Enough to Print ethic of the Left to expunge the high amount of African-Americans who turn up in routine crime reports.

It sure wasn't that way when I was there, '78 to '86.

Steven J.

Those two EMT's whose report this was based on write for the Socialist Worker.

They don't write FOR the Socialist Worker, that's just where it first appeared.

You can also find it at the EMS site:


Steven J.


THEY do write fairly regularly for The Socialist Worker.

Steven J.

The paramedics and two other witnesses said officers sometimes shot guns over the heads of fleeing people, who, instead of complying immediately with orders to leave the bridge, pleaded to be let through, the paramedics and two other witnesses said.


Cathey Golden, a 51-year-old from Boston, and her 13-year-old son, Ramon Golden, yesterday confirmed the account.

Steven J.

Limbaugh,(on Friday/last hour) reported

PigBoy doesn't report, he lies.

Jim E.

TM wrote: "Naturally, I can't find an example just now, . . .Regular Times readers are regularly entertained by [such] stories . . . [The] assailant's skin color is normally left unrevealed by the Times."

Since this is such a "regular" and "normal" (and entertaining??) occurance at the NY Times, I'm wondering when you're going to get around to posting six or seven recent examples of the NY Times failing to correctly identify the known race of a violent, on-the-loose suspect.

Les Nessman

Seven comment posts in a row?

Gosh, we are always so worried that Steven J. won't have something to say about each and every post and comment and point.

Not sure it's exceedingly polite to do it on someone else's blog, though.

jane haigh

for your info, ira glass on NPR had an interview, Ira glass this american life-style with the two socialist paramedics from san franciscokept out of gretna at gu-point. this is the katrina story with legs.


I think there must have been more than a few other whites with them because of the fact that they report that they and those with them grew hungry and thirsty, so the window to Walgreens 'gave way to the looters,' and then they conclude: We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreens in the French Quarter."

They also claim to have seen no relief workers, yet that claim is at odds with the photographs at this photo essay (h/t Mudville):

They also say, in the Socialist paper story, that they camped for some time "in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway--on the center divide, between the O’Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits," and that the media noticed them and talked about them to officials. There was supposed to be a group of some 90 people with them, including many children. Surely some of the media took a photograph of this large group?

And does it matter that Harold Veasey, 66, is a witness in this article on Sept. 10th(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/10/national/nationalspecial/10emt.html) and this one:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/05/national/nationalspecial/05medical.html on September 5?
Or is it just that he was easily available?

Cecil Turner

"We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway . . ."

Maybe I'm missing something here, but a quick look at a map, suggests the bridge is not a feasible "self evacuation" route. After crossing the Mississippi eastward, one has to circle around the city clockwise to rejoin I-10 (about a 20-mile jaunt), and then there's still ~50 miles to Baton Rouge. So the choice is to let a mob string itself out (many of whom undoubtedly wouldn't make it), complicating evactuation efforts, or keep them where they are. The Gretna police chief's statement suggests he had little choice:

"There was no food, water or shelter" in Gretna City, Lawson said. "We did not have the wherewithal to deal with these people.
If that's so, police actions were clearly warranted, including shooting over mobs of people who refused to follow orders. Starting a mass exodus from the Superdome was a bad plan, and if allowed, would undoubtedly have caused more deaths. It looks to me that not only is the racism angle silly, but the Gretna police were right.


The border of anarchy and civil disorder. Imagine that point, because it is both poignant and ironic. On one side chaos, on the other, destruction but civil order. Did the mob of refugees obey ititial orders? Were they civil?

Tough, tough questions, probably reported in a very inadequate manner by these two socialists. It is worth a book, though to look at that incident.


ISTM to be a case of a larger "us as Americans" vs. nature becoming a small "us folks in Gretna" vs. "them folks in NO". Society seems to have devolved to a smaller tribal unit, so the racial aspect is part and parcel of the tribal aspect. Some sociology grad student will probably produce a dissertation on the point.

Sounds like Cecil is with the sailor on the boat in Titanicwho prevented the lifeboat from going back at gunpoint. I hope to God if Cecil is anywhere around with a gun that I (and my family) are already in the boat.


Second Amendment, Ho!

Steven J.

This American Life has interviews with people involved in the Gretna incident. As Jane pointed out above, there were white people in the crowd and the Gretna cops would only allow whites to enter.

The clip isn't up yet but will be available here:

Cecil Turner

"ISTM to be a case of a larger "us as Americans" vs. nature becoming a small "us folks in Gretna" vs. "them folks in NO"."

According to the Police Chief, there were no folks left in Gretna: "All our people had evacuated and we locked the city down," he said.

"Sounds like Cecil is with the sailor on the boat in Titanic who prevented the lifeboat from going back at gunpoint."

That was fiction. However, the survivor stories had many like this one:

Her lifeboat was so full that as she held her hand on the edge of the boat her fingers got wet up to the knuckles. For the first five or ten minutes in the water they had to beat people off who were trying to get into the boat. They were in the lifeboats for eight hours.
In any event, the analogy is a bit strained, since the reason I gave was to save the lives of those who thought they were going to walk out of the disaster area. And I'd note the paramedics survived to tell the tale.


So I guess its the "property" of us folks in Gretna vs them "black folks" in NO.

"There was no food, water or shelter" in Gretna City, Lawson said.

There were no supermarkets in Gretna that were still stocked? Could they not have gotten the food ane water from those stores?

...."If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does
now: looted, burned and pillaged."

Not if they had gotten the food and water out of those stores and given it to these people.

Yep. That was it. Property is worth more than lives. I doubt very seriously that the Gretna "law" was thinking of these folks safety on the long march - so to speak. That's some defense their Cecil. It’s even uglier.


Well, remember, they had legal, civil, order and feared preserving it. What was the behaviour of the refugees?


And I might add, TT, that burning and pillaging quite commonly include lives, not just property.


And, of course, just so that everyone sees the syllogism on square one is allowed to defend life with lethal force; one is not allowed to defend property with such.


Society seems to have devolved to a smaller tribal unit,

"devolved"?!? It's normal, which is not to say "good".

Cecil Turner

"That's some defense their Cecil. It’s even uglier."

TT, your ad-hominems are tiresome. Your dishonest refusal to acknowledge my twice-stated rationale (saving lives of would-be trekkers) makes me disinclined to continue. Cheers.

I see Glenn has an updated link to the eminently sensible Bruce Rolston, who has an even better update with a good map overview. He comes up with the same 20-mile figure for circumnavigating the city, but notes that the aid collection point was there, so it wouldn't have been quite as difficult as my initial estimate. He also notes a much shorter route that many in fact took.

I differ with part of his conclusion, however (that authorities should've sent able-bodied along the shorter evacuation route). I'm sure he (or any other lanky reserve officer who does that sort of thing for recreation) would have no problem with the hike. The average joe might have a more difficult time of it, especially self-selected "able bodied" after a couple days on short rations. And if a large number had been sent, I suspect the death toll would've risen.


Its not an ad hom to attack your rational, Cecil. Sorry you took it that way. I'm not suggesting that you personally have a racist bone in your body. I acknowledged your "long march" rational/defense of the Gretna "law's" action, and rejected it as unlikely, given the quotations cited.

If true, its quite disturbing that white folks were allowed to cross the bridge and black folks were not. Further, its quite disturbing that the reasons stated by those in charge were "property" and "order" related with no hint that I've seen of the "saving lives" spin that you are applying. Somewhat like the first words out of the President's mouth about Katrina warned us all about the dangers of "insurance fraud".

There is some real history about black folks being left behind or forced to stay behind after floods in the Mississippi valley. Looks like the beat goes on.

Jim E.

Uh-oh, Texas Toast really blew it. By writing that clear and thoughtful and impossible to misconstrue sentence -- "I'm not suggesting that you personally have a racist bone in your body" -- Texas Toast will in fact be misconstrued: he will be accused of calling CT a racist (by JorqXmckie, most likely).

Cecil Turner

"Its not an ad hom to attack your rational, Cecil. "

The "I hope to God if Cecil is anywhere around with a gun . . ." bit had nothing to do with rationale, and was pure ad-hominem. The latter "uglier" defense bit was a strawman as well.

"If true, its quite disturbing that white folks were allowed to cross the bridge and black folks were not."

If true, it's quite amazing that the detail was left out of the socialist paramedics' tale, since it would have bolstered their case immensely.

"Further, its quite disturbing that the reasons stated by those in charge were "property" and "order" related with no hint that I've seen of the "saving lives" spin that you are applying."

Nonsense. The Chief never used the word "property" . . . and shooting looters isn't a property issue, it's to save lives (though obviously not of the individual looters). I'm not sure what you think he should have done, but leading hundreds of people away from the evacuation route and telling them to break down the door of the nearest grocery store has some fairly obvious drawbacks. Among those is that people are very likely to die in the ensuing disorder.


It looks to me that not only is the racism angle silly, but the Gretna police were right.

Well, Cecil, when you are right, you are right. Unfortunately, you are not this time. If it "looks to you" that the Gretna police were right, than it is not an ad hom to attack the argument by saying that it looks to me like you would use a gun, as they did, to defend your lifeboat/city.

Further, why didn't the Gretna police get the food themselves and distribute it? I'm not sugesting they invite folks to break the windows, but they could have commandeered the food and water themselves and used it to help these folks they were shooting "over the heads" of.

Finally, the argument that property rights in food and water outweigh human life is ugly. I know, I know, its preventing "disorder", but it seems that it was more preventing NIMBY disorder, not disorder as such.


Cecil, you keep using that phrase 'ad hominem'. I do not think it means what you think it means. It means judging the quality of a person's argument by their biographical background to make it, thus impugning the suitability of their character to even make an argument on the subject.

Simply being sarcastic or claiming that your opinion would lead you to unacceptable or evil actions does not qualify as 'ad hominem'. Nor is it necessarily a brilliant rejoinder, but that's besides the point.

I personally think there should be another term for people who cry 'ad hominem' at the drop of a hat whenever they feel insulted -- it's simply an alternative method of avoiding addressing the opponent's argument.


Jim E.

"I hope to God if Cecil is anywhere around with a gun . . ."

This is not "pure ad-hominem." It's not even impure ad-hom. It's not ad-hom at all.


JimE, I'll not accuse TT of calling CT a racist, but I will accuse him of bringing race in as an issue where it probably didn't belong.


Harry Shearer (Le Show NPR) started his show today with the Gretna welcome mat story. True Southern hospitality!


Journalistes sans frontieres, mais il y a des gendarmes aux douanes.

Jim E.

Then how come no accusations by you against Mr. JustOneMinute, Tom Maquire? Look at the main post again.

Jim E.

Since you might miss the subtlety of my last remark, this ENTIRE thread is about race.

Appalled Moderate

Cut Gretna's locals some (but not too much) slack. They have been working non-stop since the huricane, and may well not be thinking straight:



Look, Nagin himself(who am I using as an authority?) doesn't know whether that Gretna incident was about race or class. So how do you know? From the socialist EMT's slanted story?

They needed to have one of those translating organisms that you slip into your ear to understand all languages. They have translated southern cop code into extreme left code, and claim to have remained accurate. Fat chance.


If fact or fiction, it stills remains a very sorry story. The police chief doesn't know what went down. Nor do I. Fuck, if a Katrina hit anywhere, people should try to help people and animals period. If I encountered a roadblock, I would have probably been shot. It's about survival more than race. Survival, my Christian brethen of Gretna. Can't you feel the dogma?


On the question of people versus property, Governor Blanco made her famous "locked and loaded", "shoot to kill" comment about the imminent arrival of the National Guard on Thursday evening.

The bridge incident took place on what the authors describe as Day Four, which I take to be Thursday. And per the Times, cops from three jurisdictions were involved.

So the possibility remains that, rather than being some rogue racist cops, these guys were actualy carrying out someone's idea of a plan to control crowds, prevent looting, and focus the relief effort.

Whose plan? I doubt anyone will race forward to claim ownership at this point.


There you go again. Race this, race that. I'll tell you who broke all land speed records, lights and sirens wailing, and that was the two EMT's racing to get their sick slanted story into the news.

Appalled Moderate

I'm afraid this one is going to enter the folklore, without much consideration for what was truly happening in New Orleans at the time. The Gretna cops made a very bad decision -- but remember, communications were bad, and it was likely that folks in Gretna had very little knowledge of what was happening in New Orleans. They probably saw lots of smoke from across the river and heard a bunch of rumors.

Here are current conditions, as perceived by the folks in Gretna. And here is the environment these smaller town polic were working in:

"A hospital in Gretna was evacuated after a supply truck carrying food, water and medical supplies was stopped at gunpoint. Spokesman Stephen Campanini estimated there to be approximately 350 employees in the hospital, along with between 125 and 150 patients. Campanini said, "There are physical threats to safety from roving bands of armed individuals with weapons who are threatening the safety of the hospital."

Though you aren't hearing it much, the Gretna police did offer an explanation other than "get lost". From NO Mayor Nagin (who was outraged by the action):

At the parish line, the county line of Gretna, they were met with attack dogs and police officers with machine guns saying "You have to turn back..."

DONOVAN: Go back.

NAGIN: "...because a looter got in a shopping center and set it afire and we want to protect the property in this area."

Via Hullabaloo.

Look at this for an illustration of state of mind. This is a harrowing post -- illustrates the stress the Gretna forces had to be under.

I think the Gretna police action was wrong and lacking in simple Christian charity. But their reason might truly be fear of crime, heightened by utter exhaustion. It's probably not just casual racism.


Some possible reasons Republicans are associated with racism:

Mark Williams of You Dont Speak for Me, Cindy: they (blacks) didn't have the necessary brains and common sense to get out of the way of a Cat 5 Hurricane and then when it hit them- stood on the side of the convention center expiring

Rush Limbaugh : "Mayor Nay-ger" (over and over and over)

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
Rep. Richard Baker, (R) U.S. Congressman from Baton Rouge

Barbara Bush:You know they were underprivileged anyway so (chuckles) this is working out very well for them.

Let's see if we can find the common thread here.

Add to that the colloquial experience brought to so many of us by the simple act of living our lives. It has been my experience, universally, that while not all Republicans are racists, all racists that I have met have been (or at least sympathized with and voted for ) Republicans. To attempt to argue otherwise is to ask people to stop believing their lying eyes.

Appalled Moderate


Have you ever seen public housing in New Orleans? It's physically decrepit, dirty, and more than a little scary. That remark is not necessarily racial. I'm not sure the guy in Baton Rouge was making a racial remark

Babs may well have been classist rather than racist. I suspect she regards "poor white trash" as no better than the n-word that may lurk in her head.

What was the context of the Mark Williams remark. Was he specifically talking about black people, or just people who didn't evacuate? That's the kind of quote where context is important.

Rush? I offer no defense.


AM, I think the difficulty so many white people run up against in understanding how racism persists in America is failing to understand the power of coded speech. For this, see today's Digby, which TM quotes in the opener.

"public housing", "nanny state"...are code words that give the speaker cover for their amoral perspectives. The context for William's remark was indeed the "nanny state" argument, that these noble blacks have actually been enslaved by the misplaced sympathies of liberal welfare, and have as a result become stupid, lazy, immoral, violent, etc. I think perhaps the distinction matters less if you are yourself black. It is similar to an argument such as "this poor woman has been damaged by a misogynist culture, that's why she's a braindead slut." The nobility of the first argument in no way mitigates the slander of the second.

As for classism rather than racism, I agree that the entire Bush clan is more accurately described as classist, as are most wealthy Republicans. But in a country where most of the poor are black, again this distinction matters less than an apologist might hope. From my point of view, I find the classism a more pernicious and vibrant evil, but black people I speak to find the distinction to be irrelevant.

I think the pertinent point remains - while not all Republicans are racists, all racists are Republicans. The fact that they embrace the vile Limbaugh denies them a leg to stand on. The fact that they have convoluted a new defense that those who seek to support the poor are really their oppressors (a new anti-liberal meme gaining strength through the winger noise machine)is only one more indication of their absolute refusal to confront this nose-on-their-face problem with any honesty. Hiding behind one cynical convolution after another is the behavior of cowards.


You need to get out a little, Etienne. You are the poster child for stereotyping.

What would convince you that the liberal theory and practice of public education for poor urban children is racist?


Utterly racist and outrageous for you to claim that most of the poor in this country are black, Etienne. Why are you so loudly wrong?

Paul Arthur

Hang on a second...all racists are conservatives?????

What about Robert KKK Byrd?


It has been my experience, universally, that while not all Republicans are racists, all racists that I have met have been (or at least sympathized with and voted for ) Republicans.

From which I infer that Etienne has not met Police Chief Lawson of Gretna, a Democrat.

Or should I infer that Lawson is not a racist? The case can be made!

Questions too difficult to grapple with - if a black person doesn't like Korean grocers, is he racist? Or can only whites be racist?

On another subject, for Jim E, who does not share my conviction that the NY Times crime reporting is comically color-blind, this Monday morning provides this gem:

Metro Briefing

QUEENS: MAN FATALLY SHOT OUTSIDE PARTY A man was shot outside a party on 128th Street in Jamaica early yesterday, the police said. The man, Edwin Morrissette, 19, of 391 Crescent Street in Brooklyn, left the party about 2 a.m. and was confronted on the street by four men dressed in blue, friends said. Mr. Morrissette was shot three times by one of the four men, the police said, and taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Mr. Morrissette's neighbors said the teenager, a senior at Franklin K. Lane High School, immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republican in 1986. He worked as a delivery boy at a neighborhood grocery store, his family said. His father, Martin Morrissette, said his son was interested in computers.

Michael S. Schmidt (NYT)

"Four men dressed in blue". Random street crime by men in blue jeans? A Mafia hit? Angry sys-ops guys from Big Blue? Or is this a veiled reference to some gang colors? It doesn't matter - round up the usual suspects!


Just another reminder, kim, of the bankruptcy of conservative arguments. Byrd joined the KKK as a youth, about FIFTY years ago, for a brief period. He has disavowed that connection, expressed his shame, explained the cultural conditioning that led to that connection, etc. He's done this exhaustively and publically. He's advocated for poor people throughout his career, and is supported by poor voters and black voters in his state.

Yet the right wing trots this bit of trivia out of storage like the cuckoo on a clock, whenever they need a distraction from their own record on poverty and race.

I would like someone to provide me with a comprehensive summary of the conservative platform to deal with poverty. It only seems fair that they have one, considering the volumes of rhetoric condemning the liberal remedy as the truly racist one.

Poor people have problems because of lack of job skills, lack of education, lack of quality housing. What are the proposed conservative solutions? Clearly, the mere experience of misery is not sufficient to cause people to magically embrace their inner entrepreneur. Strangely enough, those service sector jobs don't seem to be building a nation of Horation Algers. Nor do kids with poor public schools and no hope of affording college seem to be chomping at the bit to tackle calculus and organic chemistry.

Who has a realistic alternative? I've seen a lot of Republican finger pointing, blaming and slandering, but precious few practical, creative solutions. AS many have noted,it isn't racial hatred that is paralyzing the poor in our country. It's really just racial indifference and contempt for those who fail to attain the conservative fantasies designed in think tanks, never on our own mean streets.



Byrd organized a local chapter of the Klan,
recruited people,
took money from those people,
got the Grand Wizard to come out for a visit,
and was involved for longer than 'a brief time'

So, please, get the facts before you blithely disregard them.



Zell Miller's a Democrat, too, TM.

I'm not talking about what's on their registration cards from thirty years ago. I'm talking about how they really vote....although can't claim to be privy to the cop in question's voting preferences.

My statement - which I stand by - reflects my personal experience only, both in life and online.


Give me the facts, then Bumpersticker. Dates, please.


I'll tell you who broke all land speed records, lights and sirens wailing, and that was the two EMT's racing to get their sick slanted story into the news. - Kim

This is an ad-hom! Those EMT's must be lying!


Sorry, old man. Racism in the south doesn't wear a party label. It’s true that the south went Republican after the civil rights acts of the 1960s, but that is because a large number of the racists changed to Republicans rather than the Republicans (all ten of them in the south) becoming racists.

Not to be pedantic, but historically, the Republicans were the party of business and the business owner and the Democrats the party of the little man, the urban working class and the rural small farmer. After reconstruction, the black man was not even a part of the equation in the south until Lyndon Johnson came along and handed the south to the Republicans for at least a generation and possibly longer. The inclusion of the black man as a part of the definition of “little man” meant that there was no one lower on the totem pole any longer and had much to do with the migration of the southern white man to Republicanism – although it is certainly not the only factor. The south’s economic transformation also paid a large part in the changeover, particularly in places like Texas.

What is interesting to me is that the new republicans seem to have adopted the old democratic spending habit (the highway bill) and maintained the old republican distate of “big government” and taxation of any form (the gutting of FEMA and the desire to keep estate tax repeal on the table). We seem to have lost the old Republican frugality and the old democratic willingness to tax the ruling classes. The democrats are now the party of balanced budgets and the Republicans are the party of starve the beast through the device of deficits as far as the eye can see. This disaster is really going to hit our collective VISA card.

Paul Arthur

Etienne, while you may have had some bad experiences with some Republicans/Conservatives in your personal experience, not only is it logically inaccurate for you to pass blanket judgement on all Republicans/Conservates, it also means you are doing the one thing that you accuse them of and hate them for - that being judging on account of a personal trait.

To answer your previous question about how we solve the problem of the poor in our country. What I would like to see happen is a program that has a definite end per person. This program would train them and help place them in a job where they can become a contributing member of our society. What I do not like seeing is an entitlement mentality that allows people to go on taking from the rest of society indefinitely.


Apologies again, Texas Toast. It's pretty obvious I'm no expert on the South. It feels like an absolute foreign country to me, one that - no offense, though I realize it's implied - I have no desire to visit. My prejudices of the region are that it's infected with backward thinking, evangelical radio and waaaaaaaaay too much of a gun fetish...At least I'm admitting I'm prejudiced. Hope I can get a few points off for that:)

Paul Arthur, I despise entitlements as much as any conservative, not because it bothers me to see poor people take something for nothing (why should rich people be the only ones doing that?) but because clearly it hurts people to depend on a bureaucracy rather than on their own self interests.

But poor people need things our ruling party, with all its talk of compassionate conservatism, seems little interested in providing. They need real jobs for one thing, not Walmart, not McDonalds. For that, they need good public education (not vouchers for the local Baptist Academy) and paid college educations or alternatively, meaningful apprenticeship programs to open up careers in the trades. They need affordable, clean, safe housing so the children have a chance to develop wholesomely. The myth that conservative America would be a meritocracy is exposed by the way the promise of poor children is dumped down the drain every day. A true meritocracy would not demand that children atone for the sins of their parents.

It isn't just the desperately poor who need these things, btw. More and more it's the working class who needs this help. Working and middle class Americans have all seen real wages drop in recent years, while the rich have profiteered handsomely. When this group of Americans stops cannibalizing their home equity in the coming year, as their heating bills begin to resemble their mortgages, this trend will only worsen.

Jim E.

The NY Post ran an entire story on the incident today, and it didn't mention race either. Since it seems (neither story is clear on this point) that the police know who the assailants are, this story is not evidence of an all-points-bulletin that shields the public from important identifying information, which is what you seemed to argue earlier.

Of course, considering that you desire more Socialist Worker-type subjectivity in the NY Times, I suppose presenting the conservative NY Post as counter-evidence won't have much impact on your race-obsessed world view. In the very least, you need open your critique beyond the hated NY Times, and consider attacking the NY Post, too.

I think if you're going to devote so much time to race, you should clarify in every post your own race and ethnicity. At the very least, you could provide a sketch or photo.

P.S. Michelle Malkin would also like to know the country of origin of your ancestors.

just asking...

If the plight of the people trying to get into Gretna, to (cough)...evacuate, was so obvious, wouldn't the Governor want to step in?

Guess she had to do some more of that 'Evaluating'. She could have instructed the National Guard to put 100 soldiers to oversee the evacuation. I don't think the Sherrif would have resisted.

No order came. The governor knew about the circumstances and did nothing. No National guard was sent to the bridge to enable evacuation.

Anybody ask the governor about her response?


From Etienne,on the party affiliation of Gretna's Police Chief:

I'm not talking about what's on their registration cards from thirty years ago. I'm talking about how they really vote....although can't claim to be privy to the cop in question's voting preferences.

Well, police chief is an elective office in Gretna, so his party preference is not a complete mystery (although I suppose he might secretly be voting for Republicans).

Po Boy

Yeah Lawson's a Democrat. But if you think Hillary could be elected police chief in Gretna-you're a bigger idiot than you are.

Incidentally-Louisiana voted for Bush by 15% percentage points-but elected Blanco-the Dem-over Bush appointee (and now Congressman) Bobbi Jindal.

Simple. If Bobbi was white-he'd be governor. Let's not forget that David Duke was the Republican gubernatorial candidate in the previous election and did pretty well-too bad for him his ability to turn out the other side was unprecedented.

When Bush said "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" he should have said he was referring to Jindal.

Cecil Turner

"Well, Cecil, when you are right, you are right. Unfortunately, you are not this time."

Sorry for the delayed response, I had to take a little trip (occupational hazard). And the above is fine, since I'm not terribly stressed about being right, but it'd be nice to have a discussion without repeated insults.

"[ad hom] means judging the quality of a person's argument by their biographical background to make it . . ."

Not necessarily. "Ad hominem" is latin for "against the man," and generally refers to arguments that focus on the person rather than the issue. Wikipedia gives several sub-types, but the first listed is "Ad hominem abusive":

(also called argumentum ad personam) usually and most notoriously involves merely (and often unfairly) insulting one's opponent, but can also involve pointing out factual but damning character flaws or actions.. . .
I'd submit this is a fairly typical example, though it relies on speculative "actions" and a fictional setting.

"Finally, the argument that property rights in food and water outweigh human life is ugly."

It's also a strawman, since you're the only one making it. Looting very predictably leads to violence, either from competition over scarce resources or from conflict with owners. (Not surprisingly, some of the first things stolen in the NO looting were firearms.) A handful of policemen facing a crowd of refugees at a choke point (especially when they know there are tens of thousands in the vicinity) can only decide to stop them or allow them to proceed. And they can reasonably expect that the latter decision would cost lives. I'd suggest that experienced policemen would view the prospect of widespread civil disorder with alarm, with good reason, and not think it a point that required explanation. I'd further suggest that law officers who remained in the area (as opposed to those who deserted) should be presumed heroes until proven scoundrels . . . and the proof here is lacking.


Etienne: "I'm not talking about what is, I'm talking about what REALLY is, that is the construct in my own mind about how things are. My mind is so strong that way I can tell how a sheriff in the South really is."


So I see you now recognize that there is a problem with the public education of poor children. You should be pro-Bush because he is certainly committed to improving that.

Why don't you check out charter schools?


TT, why is it not as clear to you as to me that the two EMT's inaccurately reported the situation in Gretna?

Yes, they lied, in a hurry.

Codes. Harrumph.


No wonder Etienne's eloquence is so full of whimsy. She doesn't have factcheck on her computer. She wants dates of Byrd's KKK infatuation. Even Wikipedia could tell her more than she wants to know.


Jim E, skeptical that the Times could be so coy about race and crime, earlier demanded examples. On Monday, the Times delivered, as noted above; Tuesday was an off day; and Wednesday brings us this:

WEST BABYLON: POLICE SEEKING PROWLER The Suffolk County police are searching for a man wanted for a series of at least 10 break-ins, some involving sexual attacks on girls, the police said yesterday. The most recent attack in a series that began on Aug. 29 occurred yesterday morning in North Amityville, the police said. In each attack, the prowler entered through an unlocked door or window in the early morning. The other break-ins have occurred primarily in the Wyandanch area, Detective Lt. James Maher said. In some cases, the prowler has touched or groped girls before fleeing. In one case he displayed a knife; in two, he was seen fleeing on a bicycle.(NYT)

A bicycle? C'mon, racing bike or mountain bike? I will be on the alert for all bicyclists!

Now, I checked other news services, and some were equally PC. However, CBS TV NY, unburdened by any sense of civic responsibility, added this:

The suspect makes efforts to conceal his identity but police have released a basic description. He is a dark skinned male, approximately 6-feet tall, in his teens or early twenties. He has been seen fleeing on a bike.

Lots of the News Thats Fit To Print.


All the News that's Left to Print.

Cecil Turner

In the spirit of complete disclosure, the latter CNN story has a quote from Chief Lawson in support of the property angle:

"Our people had left. Our city was locked down and secured, for the sake of the citizens that left their valuables here to be protected by us."
Not that there's anything wrong with protecting property rights, but it ought to've beeen a tertiary concern (after public safety and providing aid where possible). It's hard to tell what weight he placed on each from the disjointed quotes available, and I still think the decision was defensible (though it's impossible to be sure of the thought process behind it). There was one other pertinent quote, which bolsters the argument that a 20-mile evacuation route wasn't feasible:
"We had people in wheelchairs, we had people in strollers, people on crutches, so we were a slow-moving group," said Bradshaw.


Good for you, Cecil.
Apologize for the Titanic image. Shouldn't have personalized it.


A fellow blogger sent me this comedy classic from the Times archives - apparently, he followed up, and Public Editor Okrent agreed that the story was silly for dropping the race angle. Here we go:

Woman Is Mugged in Central Park as She Walks With Child

A woman walking with her child in a carriage near one of the most popular spots in Central Park was accosted by a man with a gun about 10 a.m. yesterday and robbed of her gold jewelry, the police said.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred on a pedestrian path just south of the Central Park band shell, but a robbery and a threat of violence, coming as thousands of people were drawn to the park by the year's first uninterrupted burst of mild weather, provided a reminder of more sinister days.

The authorities declined to identify the robbery victim, saying only that she was in her 30's, but a report on WNYW-TV, Channel 5, in New York, identified her as Catherine Collins and her 3-month-old son as Jackson.

In the report, Ms. Collins said that she was walking through the park tending to her son in his carriage when she realized that someone behind her had edged closer. She turned, and the man pointed a gun at her and demanded a ring, she said. Then the robber pointed the gun at her son before fleeing with her engagement and wedding rings, she said.

The police said the man, who was about 30 years old, about 5-foot-10, wearing a tan waist-length jacket and dark baggy pants, displayed a black semiautomatic gun and ran away to the south....

Well, they weren't afraid to tell us his gun was black. Nor were they worried about revealing the woman's name.

Other news services did, apparently, pick up some additional ethnic details that the Times did not consider to be part of "All The News".


All the News We See Fit to Print.

Cecil Turner

"Apologize for the Titanic image. Shouldn't have personalized it."

No sweat. (And actually, I'd admit there's redeeming social value in the evocative word picture . . . just didn't want it to become a trend.) Handsomely done.


Still, there were plenty of able bodied folks who could have gotten out (lessening the burden on the evacuation effort)if not held back at gunpoint - and there was very likely food and water available in the city.

Decisions under stress are the most difficult - but it does appear that NIMBY property considerations trumped christian charity.

Po Boy

"a 20-mile evacuation route wasn't feasible"

I'm still not sure what's going on with this story exactly-it's not topic A down here.

But a large portion of that route is an elevated expressway (the "Westbank Expressway") that vehicles could drive on. I assure you the Gretna cops didn't walk from Gretna to the onramp.

Cecil Turner

"Still, there were plenty of able bodied folks who could have gotten out (lessening the burden on the evacuation effort) . . ."

I still disagree with this view (as discussed above), and strung-out groups of people would've been far more difficult to evacuate than one concentrated mass, especially if they were forced to forage along the way. But even if it had been a good plan, the logical evacuation route would be the 10-mile one north of the river, not the 20-mile one along the south bank.

"Decisions under stress are the most difficult - but it does appear that NIMBY property considerations trumped christian charity."

I'm not willing to speculate on Lawson's state of mind based on those quotes (e.g., the "valuables" bit might've been in response to a question about why Gretna was locked down in the first place), especially without knowing what Lawson knew at the time. He probably didn't know about the alternate evacuation route, but his officers had taken people to the I-10 collection point, and it didn't take a genius to conclude that an old guy with a walker wasn't going to make it.


Please remember, the apparent and stated impulse of the moment was to preserve public order. That saves property and lives. It is not proper to distinguish them in this context.


In other words, the intention wasn't primarily to save lives or property, or even to make a racial statement; it was to preserve order. It must be looked at that way. Think like a cop.


I think Kim has stated it nicely - crowd control and preserving order were, by Wednesday, a key part of the overall police effort. And the cops keeping people inside the area of the Superdome were also intent on preserving order.

One might have been thinking (if one were a cop) that neither the property owners of Gretna nor the overall relief effort would benefit from Gretna being over-run by the snipers and looters that made parts of NO inaccessible and impassable (assuming we can believe those reports).

More broadly, what was missing was something like a plan that the public would embrace. These tourist-refugees were supposed to go the Superdome, but for some reason (I assume they will deny it was racism), that destination did not suit them.

OTOH, if the Superdome effort had not been a fiasco, the Gretna cop would never have become an issue - folks would have gone to the Superdome, received food, water and aid, boarded buses, and left.

Well. I don't think Chief Lawson had specific orders from the Governor, since he said they had no communications equipment.

I doubt he wrote a memo saying "Keep those black folks out of my white voters district".

After looking at maps, I am not even convinced that blocking that bridge was a bad idea, especially if other parts of the relief effort had been working (and the Chief may have been too close to the debacle to grasp its full enormity).

I have modest hopes of getting more from Tim Scheer, but this incident is looking like a great opportunity for folks to believe whatever they want.


Gretna will have vast future symbolic importance and, as presently being spun by the left, it criminally slanders the police.

Po Boy

Actually most people in Louisiana wont give a damn. It's definitely not something people down here are talking about. At all.

Most whites will approve the cops actions, indeed they would expect nothing less. And most blacks will disapprove the cops actions, but, alas, they too would expect nothing less.

Meanwhile if you want a scoop-I tell you again the I-55 exit at Pontchatoula was closed by the Pontchatoula police. Their motivations are a lot more stark.


TT, It's not an ad hom to call the paramedics liars. It would be if they had told the truth, however, their own story is hanging them now.

Robert Walters

It seems to me, that there are lot of opinions out here that do not have any real proof as to what actually happened at the time of this incident. We seem to have become a community that lives for rumors. I for one, am going to let the smoke settle and see what was exactly said. I sat with one of the Gretna representatives yesterday and saw a video of mr. Nagin telling his refuges that there were buses, food, and safe housing centers on the west bank of the river. Unfortunately, while he was making up this fairy tale, he forgot to let the west bank know. I have talked to Gretna policemen, Jefferson Parish policemen, and National guardsment that were at the site and their account differs quite a bit from what I see on the media. Why were there no interviews from the actual law enforcement participants? After watching some of the "reporting" that the media has put forth, I will regard any future information with a grain of salt, or treat it as I would any other piece of fiction.

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