Hurricane Bits

A couple of bits on the hurricane disaster I want to highlight:

  • An Open Letter to the President published in the Times Picayune (you’ll have to scroll down a bit to reach the editorial):

    Dear Mr. President:

    We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, “What is not working, we’re going to make it right.”

    Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.


    In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, “We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day.”

    Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

    (read the whole thing)

  • Two captioned photos on Yahoo! news — one showing a white person swimming through the flood, having “found” bread and soda, the other an African American who “looted” a grocery store. Yahoo! has yanked the captions, but several people saved images, including this flickr site.

    While I agree that the captions probably reflected racism, I think the blogosphere “amplifying” effect is at least as notable here. I know I’m not the first person to notice this phenomenon, but it is interesting that ten years ago a few people might have noticed the incongruity of the captions but their concern wouldn’t extend beyond themselves and maybe a few people they talked to. Now, it only took a couple of days for this to propagate and for Yahoo! to actually remove the controversial captions. It’s also interesting that Yahoo! having yanked the captions doesn’t make it any harder to find them—Yahoo! even links to the flickr site that shows the originals.

Update: a few more interesting points.