I’m still reading, gathering and sorting my thoughts on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but I wanted to register my deepest nausea and heartache over what Katrina did and the hell that has followed.

I’m holding off my judgement for now on how the U.S. government has dealt with the disaster. It is such a gigantic natural disaster, with so many victims and loss of facilities, I don’t know how to measure what a government can reasonably be expected to accomplish at this point, under the extreme circumstances.

Naturally, those with an axe to grind with the Bush administration or with the USA will leap to a negative evaluation. And among the victims and their loved ones across the country, it is understandable that people would be desperate, highly emotional, and angrily placing blame because there’s not enough medical and law enforcement help to go around.

But a just evaluation of what the government could and should be able to do at the beginning of such a massive emergency takes information-gathering, thoughtful analysis, and some time, and I just don’t know enough yet.

But how eagerly the critics leap.

I have never visited New Orleans, so all I’ve seen of it is through photos, movies, etc. I would have liked to see the city for myself, but now if I ever go most of it will be the new, not the historic.

I will say that I was a bit wary about visiting New Orleans – I didn’t exactly rush to get down there and take in the jazz and the Frenchness, because of all I had heard about its high rate of crime and the police corruption. New Orleans is well known for its extra helping of crime and institutional corruption. I do not know whether every city, faced with the size of natural disaster as Katrina, would degenerate into so much violence as we’ve been hearing about in New Orleans, but I don’t think so. But I don’t recall hearing of it on such a terrible scale before, and certainly not in the USA. Did this happen after the recent deadly tsunami?

But I’m sorry to say that the violence in New Orleans after Katrina is no surprise to me. The preceding bad PR prepared me to expect it.

As I go about my business here in Melbourne, Australia, so far from my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, I feel even more acutely the pains and disasters of my country. The drowning of New Orleans would be heartwrenching no matter what. But watching from outside… what is it that creates that extra sharpness and anxiety?

My most profound sympathies to the victims of Katrina and of the thugs that have joined her killer team. I salute those who have lived up to the best of human character in the most horrendous of circumstances.

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