Friday, October 21, 2005

Cal Thomas: Black people poor cause they immoral

I was extremely impressed by the arrogance and disrespect of Cal Thomas' recent column.

Not only is Thomas so pompous as to tell the black community what perspectives are even "worth considering," but by consistently using quotes around the word 'leaders' to describe everyone who spoke at the Millions More Movement march, he assumes he can decide who is a legitamate leader for a community that he is not part of. Furthermore, in the sentence after attacking those who spoke at the march, he suggests that the real leaders should be from the "middle and upper classes." This exposes the attack not so much as a racist attack, though it definitely takes advantage of racist stereotypes and comes from a racially privileged perspective. Rather, Thomas is reacting to the growing realization that something has to be done about the dramatic poverty in the United States that was brought to the surface by the Katrina disaster. He wants to pre-emptively silence those financially poor individuals who demand to speak for the themselves (Never mind the fact that many of the speakers at the march seemd to actually be from the "middle class").

Indeed, Thomas then hopes to innoculate himself against criticism by launching the most vicious attack at poor black people in the form of a quote by a black leader. However these words, spoken first by Jesse Lee Peterson, that "it was blacks' moral poverty- not their material poverty- that cost them so dearly in New Orleans," form the most bizarre and baffling passage of Thomas' column.

Please Mr. Thomas, answer me this (and CC the question to Peterson for his response), was the levee breached by the black's moral povery? Or did those 1,000 or so people who died in New Orleans drown because of the historic and continuing neglect of the more wealthy politicians at every level of government? Perhaps Thomas believes all of those who lost their homes were ignored by government, from Bush on down, because they were immoral, rather than the fact that they have few economic resources, little lobbying power, and very poor political representation.

While many of the earliest dramatic reports of violence in New Orleans seem to be exaggerated, it is clear that people died because they did not have the means to leave New Orleans, and no one in a position of power thought it urgent enough to send in supplies during those critical days of isolation.

Indeed, Thomas' attack must also be seen as an attempt to blame the survivors of the New Orleans flood so that their poor voices can more easily be ignored by the "middle and upperclass" politicians and politically connected companies that dominate the discussions and decisions regarding relief, recovery and reconstruction in the Gulf Coast.
Author's note: This editorial will soon be published on the Blogger News Network here and in the Baltimore Sun.

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