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'Indifference Is a Weapon of Mass Destruction' | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

'Indifference Is a Weapon of Mass Destruction'

On Friday, during a special session to provide relief money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Representative Dennis Kucinich delivered a powerful indictment of the Administration's disgraceful priorities and issued a stirring call to rebuild a truly secure America.

"This amount of money is only a fraction of what is needed and everyone here knows it. Let it go forward quickly with heartfelt thanks to those who are helping to save lives with necessary food, water, shelter, medical care and security. Congress must also demand accountability with the appropriations. Because until there are basic changes in the direction of this government, this tragedy will multiply to apocalyptic proportions.

"The Administration yesterday said that no one anticipated the breach of the levees. Did the Administration not see or care about the 2001 FEMA warning about the risk of a devastating hurricane hitting the people of New Orleans? Did it not know or care that civil and army engineers were warning for years about the consequences of failure to strengthen the flood control system?  Was it aware or did it care that the very same Administration which decries the plight of the people today, cut from the budget tens of millions needed for Gulf-area flood control projects?

"Countless lives have been lost throughout the South with a cost of hundreds of billions in ruined homes, businesses and the destruction of an entire physical and social infrastructure. 

"The President said an hour ago that the Gulf Coast looks like it has been obliterated by a weapon. It has. Indifference is a weapon of mass destruction.

"Our indifferent government is in a crisis of legitimacy. If it continues to ignore its basic responsibility for the health and welfare of the American people, will there ever be enough money to clean up after their indifference?

"As our government continues to squander human and monetary resources of this country on the war, people are beginning to ask, 'Isn't it time we began to take care of our own people here at home? Isn't it time we rescued our own citizens? Isn't it time we fed our own people? Isn't it time we sheltered our own people? Isn't it time we provided physical and economic security for our own people?' And isn't it time we stopped the oil companies from profiting from this tragedy?

"We have plenty of work to do here at home. It is time for America to come home and take care of its own people who are drowning in the streets, suffocating in attics, dying from exposure to the elements, oppressed by poverty and illness, wracked with despair and hunger and thirst.

"The time is NOW to bring back to the United States the 78,000 National Guard troops currently deployed overseas into the Gulf Coast region.

"The time is NOW to bring back to the US the equipment which will be needed for search and rescue, for clean up and reclamation.

"The time is NOW for federal resources, including closed Army bases, to be used for temporary shelter for those who have been displaced by the hurricane.

"The time is NOW to plan massive public works, with jobs going to the people of the Gulf Coast states, to build new levees, new roads, bridges, libraries, schools, colleges and universities and to rebuild all public institutions, including hospitals. Medicare ought to be extended to everyone, so every person can get the physical and mental health care they might need as a result of the disaster.

"The time is NOW for the federal government to take seriously the research of scientists who have warned for years about the dangers of changes in the global climate, and to prepare other regions of the country for other possible weather disasters until we change our disastrous energy policies.

"The time is NOW for changes in our energy policy, to end the domination of oil and fossil fuel and to invest heavily in alternative energy, including wind and solar, geothermal and biofuels. 

"As bad as this catastrophe will prove to be, it is in fact only a warning. Our government must change its direction, it must become involved in making America a better place to live, a place where all may survive and thrive. It must get off the path of war and seek the path of peace, peace with the natural environment, peace with other nations, peace with a just economic system."

HELP ACORN Fight for Hurricane Relief for All

At a time when this Administration failed to adequately mobilize to help the largely poor and minority communities of the Gulf Coast, please help ACORN, whose national headquarters are in New Orleans. The dedicated community leaders of Lousiana ACORN have long been at the forefront of efforts to win economic justice. ACORN President Maude Hurd writes: "To our friends and supporters around the country, I ask your help: we need your support to open a temporary national headquarters in Baton Rouge, LA, and, as soon as possible, reopen our offices in New Orleans. As we get up and running, we will work to help secure the housing, community services, and other relief our communities will badly need." So, please consider a contribution to the ACORN Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding Fund. Tax-deductible checks can be sent to ACORN Institute--Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding Fund, 739 8th Street SE, Washington, DC, 20003. Or donate online by going to www.acorn.org.

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