Aug 29, 2006

After Katrina: It's a Dog-Eat-Human World

Civilization, Apocalyptic-Style

One year ago today, we all watched in horror at the chaos and destruction the natural disaster Katrina wrought. We all watched in horror at the chaos and destruction the unnatural, man-made disaster Katrina sparked. The useless breached levee in New Orleans that did not get finished (read: funded by the Bush administration) in time. The thousands of victims who could not afford a car or a bus or were not physically able to evacuate the city in time who then suffered from drowning, dehydration, slow poison by the toxic waters, lack of medicine, starvation (dehydration kills in days, although starvation may take weeks)—human-caused entropy. We all watched in horror as the President played golf the first day after the storm. Worried about Iraq the second, third, and fourth days. Finally made a trip down on the fifth day, complete with some banal let-them-eat-cake remarks about hoping to party again on Trent Lott’s New Orleans front porch.

The horror deepened. The immediate media attention after the storm dwelt on looting and human-to-human violence, distracting from the incomprehensible images of bloated bodies floating as inconvenient debris in the noxious waters. Completely missing the tearful eyes of toddlers, who were learning the unthinkable lessons of an ostensibly civilized country that did not value them enough to rescue them quickly and without excuses.

Opportunists Feast on Human Remains

On the molecular level of civilizations, out of those memes of culture, being able to take care of our dead is the most basic. There is not a human society that does not take care of its dead in some way. Even Neanderthals were careful to honor their dead. Now, post-Katrina, not only are there many corpses yet to be discovered, but many are also available for consumption to newly feral dogs, roaming the streets of New Orleans and to alligators, whose natural habitat has been expanded dramatically. Other than humankind's advanced language skills, which build complex societies; and our opposable thumbs, which allow us to build cultural structure—and thus, civilization—how civil is it NOT to express our outrage at human corpses as scavenger fodder?

Alligators Eating Humans:

San Antonio News

WAFB Baton Rouge: Charmaine Neville's Story

FasterCures: Al Gore Leads Airlift from NoLa

Dogs Eating Humans:

Independent Journalist Robert Lindsay’s Blog

National Geographic

Humans Put Down (Euthanized):

Information Liberation

Chickens, Hens and People

Why torture ourselves with this ugliness? Isn’t it isolated and rare? Because history unstudied, and unlearned from is destined to repeat itself. When Cuba was ravaged by Hurricane Ivan, 2 million people were evacuated and not a single person died or was seriously injured. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave a warning in New York during a UN meeting of nations, saying,

“A government [like the U.S.] with so much power that it can start a war and destabilize a country but doesn't take care of its own people. Now, before the hurricane, they [the Bush administration] knew that Katrina was coming, and the government did not evacuate people. In Cuba, when they know a hurricane is coming, chickens, hens and people are all evacuated. A hurricane recently destroyed many towns in Cuba but not a single person died because no one was there. The government prepared its people and took them to shelters, whereas here they left the poor without protection, especially the blacks. That’s horrible. Be careful with the government you have.”

Let the Dead Teach the Living

Doctors attending to the wounded in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina posted a hand-lettered sign on the wall: "Mortui Vivis Praecipant." It means, "Let the dead teach the living." And so should it be.

No comments: