HOW MANY EVACUEES IN MARTHA'S VINEYARD?
I had to smile when I caught NBC’s September 9th evening newscast. Featured was a map of the United States decorated with red circles for every locale receiving reluctant evacuees from the devastated City of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. By that date, the final destinations for thousands of displaced persons was pretty well decided, a total that included, no doubt, many of the criminals who raped, pillaged, and plundered, but didn’t get caught.
For all the howling against the Administration by the likes of Senators Teddy Kennedy (D-MA) and Harry Reid (N-NV), the race-bating by pundits like Clarence Page and Jesse Jackson, and the phony outrage of TV commentators comfortably ensconced in New York and Boston, I realized there was something terribly odd about what I was seeing. Or, what I was not seeing, to be more precise. There was not a single red circle for the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut or, indeed, any points north of Washington, DC.
Why, I wondered, were not the playgrounds of the truly rich, such as Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Kennebunkport, opening their arms to the destitute? Or offering jobs, maybe in repairs or repainting, now that the tourist season was over. Were not there a few rooms in their relatively uncrowded hospitals for a few dysentery patients or rape victims? And where were the strident calls for the “special needs” offspring of the impoverished at prestigious prep schools like and Phillips Academy at Andover or La Lumiere?
I see indignant mouths lip-syncing: “When pigs fly!”
Well, you see, the “proper” facilities and “resources” are not available at these locations and institutions. (Of course not.) But…they would be happy to organize a rock concert -- provided the hallowed event takes place “down there” somewhere.
Ever so much easier, it is, to throw money at somebody else’s problem, once one is safely isolated from it. And easier yet to dispatch somebody else’s money -- preferably individuals making $80,000-$200,000: the bourgeoisie the left so loves to categorize as “the wealthy”? America’s bourgeoisie are the upwardly-mobile folks struggling to get their kids away from schools that teach homosexuality in kindergarten; the families juggling mortgages to live in neighborhoods where drive-by shootings, rapes and abductions are not the norm; and the couples sacrificing for their children’s college tuitions instead of relying on family ties and associations, as per the Martha’s Vineyard set that can effortlessly afford all the perks of privilege, many times over.
So, the multi-millionaires and billionaires coordinate fundraisers for harried mothers and fathers spending their own discretionary hours in lines for groceries, dry cleaning, motor vehicle inspections, etc., while their betters in the Hamptons languish on their estates, both here and abroad, leaving such nuisance assignments to the hired help -- low-paid employees who, thanks to legislation endorsed by their betters, will have zero chance of steering their own youngsters to brighter educational futures.
It is said that all politics are local, and perhaps there is still a kernel of truth to that.
But thanks to our increasingly socialist mentality, carefully inculcated over years of politically correct, Marxist-inspired schooling, most people now look to the federal government as a first resort, hollering about “local control” and the 10th Amendment only when it suits them. Consequently, regardless of who is at the national helm when disaster strikes, inevitable bureaucratic bungling will result in big headaches for any leader unlucky enough to inhabit the White House, dashing their Party’s hopes of a leg-up in the next election. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco’s dithering on a request for federal emergency management assistance, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s discombobulated cluelessness in coordinating an evacuation, the Orleans Levee District board’s misplaced priorities in allegedly frittering away millions on casinos while diverting funds from important infrastructure and safety projects (such as the levee) to relatives and cronies -- none of that mattered in the end.
Katrina hit the morning of August 29th. Within 48 hours, tens of thousands of individuals who ignored the mandatory evacuation order were crushed into grossly inadequate quarters -- the convention center and Superdome -- which, in turn, became a staging area for murder, rape, garbage, “open bathrooms,” and predators. This doesn’t count the looters on the streets of New Orleans, many of whom deliberately flouted the evacuation orders, envisioning a city ripe for plundering.
The some 500 deaths, financial losses and the crime wave that ensued have been deemed the Administration’s fault -- most specifically, President George W. Bush. He will dutifully go on national television to redeem his beleaguered administration. To the President went the blame for Louisiana’s errant levee money, as he stood accused of spending state monies on Iraq, which was not even possible! No one but reporter Joyce Howard Price bothered to look at the role of environmental extremist groups like the Sierra Club in creating legislation and initiating lawsuits that for some 20 years blocked critical levee and other hurricane-fortification projects [Read]. In environmentalists’ logic, of course, it was more important to save wetlands and bugs than humans, as humans are viewed as the real enemy threatening the planet.
To President Bush also went responsibility for failing to dispatch Federal Emergency Management Administration teams straightaway to Louisiana prior to a specific request by the Governor (who now admits her error). Sacked FEMA Director Michael D. Brown, who opted to place his teams in staging areas until called (as per standard procedure), served as the scapegoat. Even the hurricane itself was “W’s” fault, according to a C+ science student and former presidential candidate named Al Gore, because Mr. Bush refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty in November 2004 -- proving exactly what? Well, that the President was unconvinced of the validity of a highly questionable theory called global warming -- and his refusal to be railroaded into signing a flawed accord somehow caused a hurricane in the year 2005! Now, there’s logic for you!
As Hurricane Rita approaches television commentators are busy reviewing how global warming may be playing a part in the “new” wave of monster storms, thereby conferring “factual” status on the theory of global warming. For a highly readable overview of just how dubious this theory is, I highly recommend Michael Creighton’s latest novel, State of Fear, which is chock full of footnotes citing scientific papers that set forth the pros and cons of the debate.
New Orleans Mayor Nagin seems a nice enough guy -- humble, self-effacing, respectful. He praised the President’s efforts and faulted his state, in a very public way -- on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and gave particular kudos to Lieutenant General Russel Honore who came in to restore order, dubbing Honore “a John Wayne dude.”
Unfortunately, being a “nice guy” is not the same as being qualified, a point that the Democrats were quick to level, with some justification, at former FEMA Director Brown (despite the fact the State failed to call in his agency until it was too late).
Dramatic visuals show hundreds of school buses nearly submerged in their parking spaces. These, combined with some 550 water-logged city buses, could have been used to evacuate the city 14 hours ahead of the storm, as is being done in evacuating people from Galveston. As with Hurricane Rita, experts all predicted a direct or near-direct hit by Katrina.
Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA), probably now regrets her comment (picked up by the Washington Times September 12th, “President 'made things happen',” about it being “hard enough getting people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane.” But Mayor Nagin backs her up, complaining that enough drivers could barely be found to take stranded people to the Superdome.
Had it been New York’s Rudy Giuliani in Louisiana in August instead of Mayor Nagin or Kathleen Blanco, those school buses and public buses would likely have been gassed up and ready, drivers at the wheel, and most of the stragglers perched in their seats, willing or not, some 12 hours before the storm. Architectural experts would have been quickly dispatched prior to landfall via F-18s, if necessary, to assess the viability of the Superdome as a backup for a Category 4 hurricane, and the National Guard would have blackened the sky with helicopters both before and after the deluge.
Just how much rope must the liberal media have before it hangs itself? In its effort to publicize, as widely and as graphically as possible, the horrific images of misery usually reserved for Third World countries, what they showed instead were the results of 40 years of entitlement programs aimed at “solving poverty”; 40 years of relaxed school standards and dumbed-down curricula intended to “keep kids in school”; and 40 years of prosecution-proof, rehabilitative approaches to law-breaking in the name of “reducing crime and delinquency” -- all progeny of a 60’s-era liberal-leftism that has now become institutionalized. The phrase “just like a Third World country” kept surfacing because residents who dismissed the mandatory evacuation order, in effect, reverted to Third World behavior (excepting, of course, the disabled, the hospitalized and the elderly, who should have been the first ones airlifted to safety, as is being done with Hurricane Rita). What our television screens gave us were scenes we have seen repeatedly in places like Haiti, Somalia, and Uganda.
For me, the dismal pictorials from New Orleans generated some long-repressed memories of young “boat people” in my classrooms during the 1970s, when the influx of Vietnamese refugees was at its height. Regardless of your opinion of the Vietnam War, it was nevertheless true that these children had suffered traumas of a magnitude scarcely imaginable, even in New Orleans. Some had watched their parents disemboweled, and worse, in front of them (by well-funded aggressors who recruited and appealed to the jealousies of ideologues and opportunists). Others didn’t know where their family members were, and realized they would probably never find them. Many had spent weeks and months on boats, their teeth rotted and their bodies emaciated from lack of nutrition and exposure, from being crammed together with access to neither medicine, dry clothes, diapers (yes, there were babies) or hygiene products. Once on American shores, they encountered a culture and language so unlike their own that they might as well have landed on another planet. Many expected to be arrested and tortured yet again. The mental health industry, for the most part, had not yet pounced upon the prospects presented by “victimhood,” so it was the rare refugee who received “counseling services,” much less a diagnosis of post-traumatic-stress disorder or the questionable benefit of antidepressant drugs.
The U.S. government dispersed such the refugees to states throughout the country.
Some of their children landed in my classrooms. The stories they told -- when they could bear to reveal them -- were beyond horrendous. But among the refugee community itself, there was no mention of rape, stealing and murder, either in transit or once they arrived to our shores. They did not engage in mass temper tantrums to vent their understandable angst, nor did the children use their situation as an excuse to slack off in school.
The first thing most refugees told me they did was to locate other refugees in whatever community they wound up situated and start pooling their resources.
Anything they received, either from the government or from charitable organizations, was placed in a “pool,” and the universal reaction was gratitude. But their goal was self-sufficiency, not a handout, even from nonprofits and churches. Their first purchases, after food, were dictionaries -- Vietnamese-English or even French-English, if that was all they could find. Several of my “boat students” could neither speak nor understand a word of English when they walked into my class, but by the second semester, they were “acing” their exams and out-performing the American kids, regardless of ethnicity.
Their English-speaking peers were suspicious. Some thought the “boat kids” cheated, and even I had occasional doubts. I remember a particular instance when most youngsters had left my class to watch an exhibition basketball game -- except for the Vietnamese pupils, who did not have the one dollar to purchase a ticket. It was a perfect opportunity to ask “Tam” up to my desk. Tam was a 13-year-old boy who looked about 9. He unfailingly made A’s, even with his English-pronunciation problems.
I had a paperback in my brief case, so I pulled it out, knowing Tam would not be familiar with it. I opened to a random paragraph and asked him to tell me the part of speech (noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc.) for every single word in one of the longer paragraphs. Tam examined the selection for about two minutes, then proceeded to correctly identify every word -- including terms like “kitchen sink,” both of which would normally have been nouns, but not in this context (the first was an adjective and the second a noun). This was the same little boy who still used a dictionary to look up words during the lesson. When I would stop and ask, “Tam, do you understand?” he would nod in the affirmative, and continue to hurriedly find words as I spoke them.
This was also the same youngster who weighed about 50 pounds and had lost nearly all of his permanent teeth.
“Tam, how are you able to do this?” I exclaimed, bewildered.
“Oh,” he said, “study very hard. American school is easy if I study.”
“Did you ever study English in Vietnam,” I asked.
He laughed ruefully. “No, no school for me in Vietnam.”
“Well,” I told him. “Come back during my free period and we will work on your pronunciation. Maybe you can learn to express your verbs better, too.”
“Oh, t’ank you, t’ank you. I come back every day.”
Wow, I thought. If this kid doesn’t get killed by a jealous classmate first, he’s really going to make it.
By contrast, most of the American pupils, including the ones getting reduced or free lunches, spend their educational time strutting around like peacocks; and their parents’ money (entitlement and earned) on ridiculous get-ups and expensive gadgets while complaining they cannot afford a pen. Only the labels have changed today -- it is MP-3 players, cell phones, and Game-boys. And youngsters have become far more brazen than they were in the 1970s -- far beyond merely ignoring their lessons, swearing at teachers, and disrupting classes, and truancy.
Hopefully, the younger evacuees from New Orleans have received a wake-up call.
In an effort by many companies set up job fairs at various evacuation centers, recruiters discovered that most of the displaced persons, both young and adult, are not merely low-skilled, but unskilled (as per NBC’s “Dateline, also September 9th).
For all its faults, this nation has provided the means for a child to obtain a rudimentary education, providing one is serious and motivated. All a kid has to do is show up, bring a pencil, and turn in a paper now and then to earn a grade. Even though it should not be up to the teacher to motivate a student, most try. Even though schools have become, in many ways, obstacle courses to learning -- awash in faddish methodologies, psychobabble, and constant interruptions -- it is still possible for a committed student to “tune out” the nonsense and benefit from what substance is offered. I refer the reader to the story of Dr. Ben Carson, the top-drawer black neurologist who (thanks to his extraordinary mother) overcame poverty and want and went on to separate the first Siamese twins, among other pioneering work.
The values of self-sufficiency and individualism are no longer inculcated, and we call the result “compassion.” Individual thought has been replaced with group-think, and we call the result “consensus.” But neither able-bodied dependency nor peer-centeredness is a trait that free republic can long afford to tolerate.
Group-think centers on popularity and trendiness; they thrive not on principle, but upon the kind of “mob mentality” and “tribalism” so prevalent among Third World countries -- in direct opposition to the kind of individual liberty inspired by the Framers of our Constitution. “Mobocracies” subsist on sound-bites and attention-grabbing visuals, never on substantive discourse. We forget that the appeal of Marxist socialism was that it favored groups over individuals; at the top is the “elite,” which is answerable to no one.
What Americans saw on their TV screens with Katrina was the triumph of the tribalist mindset, a “mobocracy” -- which was remediable by what? The National Guard, and a no-nonsense guy named Lieutenant General Russel Honore who was sent in to take charge.
What does that tell us about the future of this country, when only the military, in effect, can be brought in to direct out-of-control masses?
Once the displaced, unskilled denizens of cot-lined rescue havens are housed in various cities, we can expect, over the course of a few months’ frustration with a government that cannot fulfill their needs and desires fast enough in the wake of both Katrina and Rita, that many will begin trolling the “bourgeoisie” neighborhoods for more “things” -- and for excitement.
truly wealthy, the elite, with their summer “cottages” at Martha’s
Vineyard and Kennebunkport, and long history of leftist idealism tempered
by none of its realities, know this is true. That’s why you will see
no evacuation centers there.
Beverly Eakman is an Educator, 9 years: 1968-1974, 1979-1981. Specialties: English and Literature.
Science Editor, Technical Writer and Editor-in-Chief of official newspaper, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1974-1979. Technical piece, "David, the Bubble Baby," picked up by popular press and turned into a movie starring John Travolta.
Chief speech writer, National Council for Better Education, 1984-1986; for the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Commission on the Bicentennial of the US Constitution, 1986-1987; for the Voice of America Director, 1987-1989; and for U.S. Department of Justice, Gerald R. Regier, 1991-1993.
Author: 3 books on education and data-trafficking since 1991, including the internationally acclaimed Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality Through Education. Executive Director, National Education Consortium.
Why, I wondered, were not the playgrounds of the truly rich, such as Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Kennebunkport, opening their arms to the destitute?