As levees crumbled in New Orleans after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, so, too, tumbled any sense of decorum among key black Democrats. Officials and activists alike are re-submerging the Crescent City in a fact-free torrent of vitriol.
After Rangel's outrageous comparison other black members of Congress did their level best to out-do him:
“This is worse than Bull Connor,” said Rep. Major Owens (D., N.Y.). “Bull Connor didn’t even pretend that he cared about African Americans,” Owens continued. “You have to give it to George Bush for being even more diabolical.” Owens believes that Bush’s faith-based initiatives “made it appear that he cared about black Americans. Katrina has exposed that as a big lie.”
Gotham City Councilman Charles Barron (D., Brooklyn), a former Black Panther, said “George Bush is worse” than Connor “because he has more power and he’s more destructive to our people than Bull Connor will ever be…A KKK without power is not as bad as a George Bush with power.” Barron added: “What he did in New Orleans — I mean, that’s worse than what Bull Connor did in his entire career as a racist in the South…Look at these neighborhoods before Katrina hit. Bush made that community what it is. Katrina did the rest, in partnership with Bush, to deliver the final blow.”
Murdock asked the Heritage Foundation to look at the neighborhoods affected. The Heritage Foundation found:
- Across all federal programs, Orleans Parish received $12,645 per capita in fiscal year 2003. At the same time, the national average was $7,089 per capita.
- Among 21 low-income-assistance programs, inflation-adjusted federal poverty spending in Orleans Parish equaled $5,899 per-poor-person in Bill Clinton’s final, full-fiscal-year 2000 budget. By fiscal 2003, such outlays soared to $10,222.
- In 1999, under Clinton, Orleans Parish had 135,429 poor people and a 27.9 percent poverty rate. In 2004, under Bush, 102,636 New Orleanians were poor, while the poverty rate eased to 23.2 percent.
The sad truth is that many of those pulled from rooftops and deposited at the Superdome and Convention Center were poor long before George W. Bush ran for president. They were poor throughout Bill Clinton’s eight years of Truth and Beauty, for which these crackpots probably pine. And they likely would be poor in 2012 had Katrina sputtered, and Hillary Clinton followed John Kerry into the Oval Office.
Largely under black, Democratic leadership, the Crescent City’s poor endured derelict schools (of which Baton Rouge has declared 70 among 127 “academically unacceptable”), fatherless homes, municipal corruption, and, at least until lately, a business-hostile economic climate. These and other factors hobbled low-income New Orleanians. In my 13 visits to one of America’s most seductive locales, I found that part of New Orleans’ enduring allure was its mysterious blend of fragile gentility, an atmosphere of elegant decay, and a sense of potentially imminent misfortune. The music-filled streets with ancient houses that tilted almost subliminally to one side masked far deeper troubles. Addressing them took hard work then, and will take even harder work now. Rather than pitch in, Rangel, Sharpton, Owen, Barron, and other friction-mongers plunge steak knives into old racial wounds and exhume the memory of a long-dead bigot to inflame Americans who hardly need their generosity diluted with venom.
While every American should row forward on behalf of Katrina’s and Rita’s victims, we now must paddle in circles while these race hustlers spill untreated sewage by the barrel. Who does this hurt? The same black New Orleanians whose plight they exploit.
I worry that some have heard these comparisons of Bush to Bull Connor, watched those German Shepherds snarl in black-and-white, shaken their heads in disgust, closed their checkbooks, and moved on. Rather than encourage compassion for those who still desperately need it, Rangel & Co. promote a meat-cleaver-like divisiveness that surely is slowing, not speeding, aid to the Katrina and Rita Zones.
For their counterproductive, hyper-partisan grandstanding, these so-called “black leaders” deserve merciless excoriation from coast to coast.