Blame game just a waste of effort

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The blame game. That’s what we’ve experienced during the past two weeks.

It’s the mayor’s fault or the governor’s fault, even the president’s fault.

The best, I think, was the Israeli rabbi who said Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath were God’s punishment for the Gaza pullout.

Here are the facts, minus the blame. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of our country.

And it happened, not because anyone planned it or wanted it, but because natural disasters just happen. That is life on earth.

We have weather patterns. We have oceans. And we are bound to have these storms.

The scenes coming out of New Orleans are horrific. The scenes from Mississippi just as bad, “massive catastrophic destruction,” officials have said.

I have a friend whose family owns a community newspaper in a small town in rural Greene County, Miss., just north of Gulfport, Miss.

They’ve had a very hard time and in all likelihood, it will get worse before it ever gets better.

People lost homes. People lost family members.

Now, they face a terribly difficult time attempting to rebuild not only their homes but their lives as well.

Americans have faced tragedies before.

Four years ago last Sunday, Americans watched in shock and horror as planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York and Pentagon in Washington D.C.

Another plane, probably headed for the White House, was brought down in Pennsylvania by passengers who rose up against the terrorists.

At that time, we could identify our enemy.

That was easy. We could then hunt them down and make them pay. We have. And we are still.

With this tragedy, however, no matter how bad we want to find somebody to blame, no matter how hard we search, there is no one to point to.

Maybe the military should have arrived earlier. Maybe there should have been more security in the Superdome.

Maybe the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana should have ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city and coast much, much earlier so people would not have found themselves deadlocked on the roads out of town.

Maybe officials should have used those flooded school buses to evacuate the nursing homes, hospitals and more poverty-stricken areas of New Orleans.

Maybe FEMA should have been more prepared. Maybe the federal government should have provided the funds to fix the outdated levee system.

When money was sent there in the past, maybe it should have been used to fix the levee system instead of diverted into other programs.

The fact is that those things did not happen.

We’ll look back on this catastrophe and enumerate many places where we should have acted differently.

What’s that saying? “Hindsight’s 20-20.” It certainly is.

But, while we’re playing the blame game, let me tell you who I blame.

I blame France. After all, they were the ones who originally built New Orleans.

This blame game is the epitome of silliness – a silliness that has spun out of control since this disaster.

It’s important that we move past the desire to place blame on someone.

My friend in Mississippi doesn’t care who’s to blame.

He’s worried about how he’ll continue to feed his family with his business almost certainly taking a hit that will make it hard to go on.

Those who have evacuated to our area and plan to start over, who are still waiting to hear from family members are not looking for someone to blame.

They are looking for the strength to go on. I certainly hope we don’t get so bogged down in blame that we forget to give these people what they need.

Candace Parker serves as news editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at