At least I'm not alone.

In perusing the WSJ, I ran into this piece by Peggy Noonan, whom I consider the single finest writer in America on the matter of current affairs. Here is part of what she wrote, concerning the matter of looting. See if you catch any similarities to what has already been written by another brilliant thinker. :-)

As for the tragic piggism that is taking place on the streets of New Orleans, it is not unbelievable but it is unforgivable, and I hope the looters are shot. A hurricane cannot rob a great city of its spirit, but a vicious citizenry can. A bad time with Mother Nature can leave you digging out for a long time, but a bad turn in human behavior frays and tears all the ties that truly bind human beings--trust, confidence, mutual regard, belief in the essential goodness of one's fellow citizens.

There seems to be some confusion in terms of terminology on TV. People with no food and water who are walking into supermarkets and taking food and water off the shelves are not criminal, they are sane. They are not looters, they are people who are attempting to survive; they are taking the basics of survival off shelves in stores where there isn't even anyone at the cash register.

Looters are not looking to survive; they're looking to take advantage of the weakness of others. They are predators. They're taking not what they need but what they want. They are breaking into stores in New Orleans and elsewhere and stealing flat screen TVs and jewelry, guns and CD players. They are breaking into homes and taking what those who have fled trustingly left behind. In Biloxi, Miss., looters went from shop to shop. "People are just casually walking in and filling up garbage bags and walking off like they're Santa Claus," the owner of a Super 8 Motel told the London Times. On CNN, producer Kim Siegel reported in the middle of the afternoon from Canal Street in New Orleans that looters were taking "everything they can."

If this part of the story grows--if cities on the gulf come to seem like some combination of Dodge [City] and the Barbarian invasion--it's going to be bad for our country. One of the things that keeps us together, and that lets this great lumbering nation move forward each day, is the sense that we will be decent and brave in times of crisis, that the fabric holds, that under duress it is American heroism and altruism that take hold and not base instincts born of irresponsibility, immaturity and greed.

We had a bad time in the 1960s, and in the New York blackout in the '70s, and in the Los Angeles riots in the '90s. But the whole story of our last national crisis, 9/11, was courage--among the passersby, among the firemen, among those who walked down there stairs slowly to help a less able colleague, among those who fought their way past the flames in the Pentagon to get people out. And it gave us quite a sense of who we are as a people. It gave us a lot of renewed pride.

If New Orleans damages that sense, it's going to be painful to face. It's going to be damaging to the national spirit. More damaging even than a hurricane, even than the worst in decades.
I wonder if the cruel and stupid young people who are doing the looting know the power they have to damage their country.

I wonder, if they knew, if they'd stop it.


You can find the whole piece at the WSJ's opinion site.

A lot of hypotheses have been floated on why the looting (the real looting, not just grabbing food from a grocery store shelf) is taking place. Some people have posited that a consumerist/materialistic society has "brainwashed" (I hate that word, by-the-by) people into acquiring "stuff" by whatever means possible. Some imbeciles have suggested that "of course there's going to be looting, those people are [insert convenient slur here]."

I don't hold with that. I believe passionately in free will and the equality of people of all colors and nationalities. Deciding to shoot at a rescue helicopter is a deliberate choice. Storming the Children's Hospital is not something you are brainwashed into doing. Raping women as targets of opportunity is not confined to one subset of people or another. Human predators visiting manifest evil upon the innocent is not a product of your environment or upbringing, but of a dysfunctional--or utterly lacking--moral compass and a sense of impunity.

This putrefying episode in the Katrina saga reminds me of Thomas Jefferson's quote: "I tremble for my country, when I reflect God is just."

Those of us far removed from the swirl of this catastrophe, by distance or circumstance, have an opportunity to strike a few kind blows for kindness, humanity and civilization. Do so. To find out how you can help, CLICK HERE.

-J.

Comments

jujube said…
I'm on the other end of the political spectrum from you, as you know, (and therefore also from Peggy Noonan), but I agree with you completely. I'm not keen on people taking stuff, even necessities, in less dire circumstances, but I think that taking water, food, diapers, painkillers, bandaids, etc. in a case like this is relatively OK with The Big Guy Upstairs.

What I don't understand is this: under normal circumstances, if someone tries to rob a store, they get shot by the police if they don't stop. Or if someone shoots, they get shot by the police. Why has it taken so long to get to "shoot on sight", especially as martial law was declared on Monday (although personally, I would prefer tear gassing and then disarming these thugs)?

As for evacuating these thugs--frankly if they want to stay and then end up shooting each other over putrid water filled blocks of water, I will be hard-pressed to shed any tears (and I have been shedding tears each morning and evening as I watch the news, and it all started the first time I saw the aforemetioned Mr. Jackson's interview on Tuesday.)
Poppy Buxom said…
I think it's a question of numbers, Jujube. There aren't many policeman left--certainly not enough to hold back a segment of the population determined to steal stuff. Even with a gun in my hand, I would be afraid of confronting an angry mob. And the NO police were operating without the ability to communicate with their superiors or each other. There's a good chance many of them wouldn't even know martial law had been declared.

--P.
Joke said…
As an update on the local N.O. constabulary, it seems a good number of them surrendered their badges even before the trouble started AND another goodly number of them joined in on the looting.

The few that remained were hampered by a situation in which the local infrastructure was totally unprepared for an event of this magnitude. Partly because of the Byzantine maze that is bureaucracy in Louisiana (with a nearly innumerable array of fiefdoms to be protected), and partly because of the sensationally corrupt and woefully inept state of the local (and state) gummint there.

-Joke

Popular Posts