In among all of the commentary and images over the past few days about Katrina, I’ve noticed a recurring strain along the following lines: the people who remained in New Orleans during and after the hurricane were too stupid, lazy, or both to leave; and nobody who lived in a place like New Orleans (either because it was too sinful, too corrupt, or not located in the “right” spot geographically) deserved to be helped or saved anyway.

It’s funny, I’ve never heard these sorts of statements made about other parts of the United States that have been subject to natural disasters (with the exception of San Francisco, which always gets hit by earthquakes because it “deserves” it). Nobody ever rages against the residents of Midwestern states for living in the paths of tornadoes. Nobody ever quarrels with the environmental choices of residents of Florida, which got smashed by a total of 4 major hurricanes last year alone. So why pick on New Orleans?

This snazzy « diagram » by Troll Princess sums up the feeling I have about the above arguments excellently.

The other thread of argument that astonishes me is the argument I’ve heard made that people shouldn’t expect the federal government to come to their aid in natural disasters because that’s not what government’s for.

Well, in that case, why do we have a federal government at all? If the government isn’t constituted to summon assistance to citizens in times of national crisis, what is it constituted for?

Oh, that’s right, I forgot: it’s there to be “drowned in the bathtub.” Grover Norquist was more of a prophet than he may have thought.