This CNN article about the body hunt in New Orleans has been open on my desktop all morning. I read it immediately, but it took all morning for me to write something about it.
Dr. Louis Cataldie, medical incident commander for Louisiana, said the elderly appear to make up the bulk of the dead but that searchers also are finding more children.
“That’s tough,” he said.
Much of the final search was being conducted in eastern New Orleans. Crews probed areas of the city that just recently have been drained enough to allow ground searches — neighborhoods that were closest to the fractured levees and bore the brunt of the floodwaters’ force.
Should it be any surprise that most of the dead now being recovered in New Orleans are the elderly and children? Not when you think about it. It’s no more surprising than the reality that most of the people who were left to fend for themselves in the floodwaters were poor (both the working and non-working varieties). It’s the expected outcome of conservative policies that abandon the weakest — economically or physically — among us.
It’s being said now that the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf region is being turned in to a laboratory for a number of conservative policies, and there may be some truth in that. But to some degree — as with the rest of the country — New Orleans already was laboratory for conservative policies and theories. It’s just that the results were seen there sooner than everyone else.
It’s no shock that most of the dead in New Orleans were among the “weakest of the week,” those who were too old or infirm to fend for themselves, and those who were too young to fend for themselves if separated from parents or other adults. That’s the expected outcome of a philosophy that basically boils down to “survival of the fittest”; in the case those physically and economically “fit” enough to get themselves out of the way of the hurricane.
It’s the logical outcome of mindset founded in social darwinism, which fits right in with the conservative “wealth is well-being is virtue” ideal I mentioned earlier. It’s not just the physically or economically strong that survive (indeed that should survive, according to this POV), but the morally strong as well, because economic strength (manifested as material well-being, and the ability to move out of harms way) implies moral strength. Thus, poverty implies moral weakness.
And there is no obligation on the part of the morally strong to save the morally weak, because moral weakness is always a choice. The poor, then, have it coming. That the dead being recovered in New Orleans now simply had the misfortune of being old and poor, or being born into poverty, doesn’t figure into the equation somehow.
The old and poor should have simply made better choices in their youth. The young and poor, well they should have been born into wealthier families. Of course that means their inherited poverty was no more deserved than someone else’s inherited wealth. But it doesn’t make them any less dead.
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