…We All Scream for Howard Dean!
Thanks so much to Ari Berman for his tribute to Howard Dean [“The Prophet,” Jan. 5]. Most of my adult life I lived in southwest Virginia, near Roanoke. In 2004, I wrote the DNC several times suggesting they put some effort into Virginia. Local party leaders were discouraged that they weren’t getting any help from the DNC for down-ballot elections and almost no attention for the presidential race. To us on the ground, it was clear that in addition to a growing progressive movement, there were plenty of pissed-off good ol’ boys disgusted by the fraternity party in the White House. Also, former GOP Governor Jim Gilmore was widely despised for nearly bankrupting the state during his term, which ended in 2002 with the election of Democrat Mark Warner. In 2006 we elected another Democratic governor and Senator Jim Webb. Had the Beltway Dems listened to Dean in 2003, the last four years might have been very different.
What an extraordinary piece of investigative journalism by A.C. Thompson [“Katrina’s Hidden Race War,” “Body of Evidence,” Jan. 5], and what a horror story it tells about how powerful racism still is. The boasts of the Katrina vigilantes echo the smiling faces of the white onlookers/participants in lynchings in newspaper photos and tourist postcards.
Poverty & Race Research Action Council;
Co-editor, There Is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster: Race, Class and Hurricane Katrina
You would do better to stick to honest journalism, not the sensationalism A.C. Thompson peddles. Did white vigilantes take advantage of a horrific circumstance to commit illegal acts? Probably. Did some citizens, black and white, use the same circumstance to rob and loot? Probably. Was there a “race war” against innocent black citizens, or was there an attempt by homeowners to protect their property against looting and vandalism? The inaction of the NOPD, which Thompson mentions, left many with little choice of action. Should the citizens of Algiers Point have been more charitable? Obviously. But that does not equal a “race war.” Though Thompson does his best with little evidence to paint an incendiary picture of white racists waging war on their black neighbors, the probability of that is low. Does there need to be a Justice Department investigation into this? Yes, most definitely. But it needs to be a sober and unbiased investigation that relies on more than the hearsay of supposed victims and the drunk ramblings of racists.