September 5, 2005

Let's play the Blame Game!

A reader writes:

Your New Orleans article sure seemed to have stirred up a hornet’s nest! ... Do poor black people have worse judgment? Perhaps I’m not the best one to ask this: I’ve made enough mistakes to fill 20 lives! My guess is that your idea contains more than a kernel of truth….

Whenever the TV broadcasts hours of blacks behaving badly, this enormous pressure builds up to denounce the first person who mentions what everybody can see with their lying eyes. I believe it was Robert Conquest, historian of the Soviet terror, who pointed out that Hans Christian Anderson's "Emperor's New Clothes" is psychologically dubious: the more obvious the lie, the more angry the crowd would get at the truth-teller. As Theodore Dalrymple pointed out, the purpose of political correctness is to humiliate you by forcing you to go along with lies, so when somebody points out the truth, everybody gets mad at him for calling attention to how they've allowed themselves to be emasculated.

On the blame game:

The most would go to the Mayor for not forcibly evacuating the poor and elderly. The picture of those flooded buses says it all. True, some people would have refused to go, but that wouldn’t have been the city’s fault. You are right on target that the city’s “party” atmosphere contributed greatly to the debacle – no one took it seriously until it was too late with tragic results. The Mayor should do the honorable thing and resign as of October 1.

Perhaps, but, remember the poor guy got elected to office as a reformer, and the first thing he did was stage a sting on the crooked cab supervision racket in which his own cousin got arrested. But that just came back to haunt him because it showed he lacked the clan loyalty a New Orleans bigshot is supposed to display. According to Josh Levin in,

"In the black community, the fizzling of these early successes did less to hurt Nagin's reputation than the perception that he was disloyal—to the cousin he had arrested, to the administration of his popular predecessor Marc Morial (which he frequently insinuated, perhaps appropriately, was complicit in City Hall corruption), and to the city's African-American population as a whole. After Morial's brother's house was raided as part of a corruption probe, a leading black preacher called Nagin a "white man in black skin." It didn't matter that, according to the Times-Picayune, he had done a demonstrably better job than Morial in giving government contracts to minority-owned businesses."

My reader continues:

The second biggest goat would be Tom Ridge and the Feds. It’s been over 3 years since 9/11 and the establishment of that department ….and we get the worst emergency performance ever? (Chertoff gets less of the blame because he’s been on the job a shorter time). Here’s where your much-commented upon failure of Bush to ever fire anyone really hurt….

Third would be Rumsfeld! Remember you wanted to make Powell Sec of Defense and have him re-institute the doctrine of Overwhelming Force. This was a textbook case of why massive manpower was needed to prevent chaos from spreading….

Rumsfeld refused to put down looting after we conquered Baghdad, which I said at the time was going to come back to haunt us.

Fourth would be Bush for not getting there sooner….

Republicans will try to blame the chaos on the bad behavior of the urban underclass, but anyone who knows anything takes that as a given in crisis situations. (Remember the NYC blackout of ’77?)

Exactly. That's been my point all along. For example, the hapless FEMA director Mike Brown admitted that the lawlessness in New Orleans surprised him. That's the kind of politically correct naiveté that all these denunciations of me by John Podhoretz and Michelle Malkin, etc. just encourage in public officials. And being oblivious to the obvious doesn't do poor minority underclass people any good when it's crunch time.

Everybody should have assumed that when the hammer finally came down, the New Orleans Police Department would fold and underclass thugs would run amok, making it unsafe for unarmed rescue workers to do their jobs. The government should have planned to helicopter combat troops in and do what it takes to restore order: tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammo if necessary.

The GOP had better hope something happens to change the subject from Iraq and New Orleans to something else.

The Republican shouldn't wish to hard for a distraction or they might just get one, good and hard.

Now the nominee for worst performance by a journalist goes to… David Brooks.

Here’s what he said about the systematic failures of recent years:

“And the key fact to understanding why this is such a huge cultural moment is this: Last week's national humiliation comes at the end of a string of confidence-shaking institutional failures that have cumulatively changed the nation's psyche. Over the past few years, we have seen intelligence failures in the inability to prevent Sept. 11 and find W.M.D.'s in Iraq. We have seen incompetent postwar planning. We have seen the collapse of Enron and corruption scandals on Wall Street. We have seen scandals at our leading magazines and newspapers, steroids in baseball, the horror of Abu Ghraib. Public confidence has been shaken too by the steady rain of suicide bombings, the grisly horror of Beslan and the world's inability to do anything about rising oil prices.”

Say what? This guy is complaining about the failure of WMD intelligence in Iraq….and incompetent postwar planning?!? One of the men who shouted the loudest for this war now complains about it! How stupid does he think the public is? What’s next? Bush’s budget director complaining about deficits? Tom DeLay calling for better Congressional ethics? Louis Farrakhan opposing anti-Senitism? Or Vincente Fox criticizing too much Latin immigration into the US? AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

More from Brooks:

“It's already clear this will be known as the grueling decade, the Hobbesian decade. Americans have had to acknowledge dark realities that it is not in our nature to readily acknowledge: the thin veneer of civilization, the elemental violence in human nature, the lurking ferocity of the environment, the limitations on what we can plan and know, the cumbersome reactions of bureaucracies, the uncertain progress good makes over evil.”

He’s exactly right: there ARE limits to what we know…all the more reason to be cautious when Wolfowitz, Karuathammer, Perle and Feith, et al came along selling their plan for a vast transformation of the Mid East! You’re right: journalists inhabit the softest sector in America and never get canned for bad advice. The old saying was “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I guess being a neo-con means never having to say you’re wrong -- or sorry.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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