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E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)
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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)
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Wednesday, September 07, 2005
The floodgates of anarchy. I just now spotted that a little below Mr Lehman's letter on the Independent's letters page of 2 Spetember is the same letter from Simon Ferguson of Hatfield as appeared in the Times of 5 September. I can't put my finger on anything actually immoral about sending the same letter to all the papers, but the editor of the Times, where the letter appeared several days later, ought to wince at the duplication. Mr Ferguson's vision of American life once the veneer of civilisation is stripped off certainly has the knack of catching an editor's fancy.
Re Ferguson's "The speed of the breakdown implies that only the cursory removal of law and order is necessary for American society to descend into anarchy". Perhaps I am deeply misinformed because I do not have access to the BBC, but I was unaware that the social order had collapsed all across Katrina's huge swathe of destruction, rather than in a limited area of a city long notorious for its sleaze, corruption, and civic incompetence.I have read that the explanations the Japanese themselves give as to why they are so much more law-abiding than the rest of the world, in particular the Americans, have a disconcerting tendency to centre around Japanese racial superiority and/or homogeneity.
The homogeneity one I can just about accept. It's one less fault line to split along when a society comes under stress. That is not to say that there are not times when homogeneity can do harm; it made it psychologically easier for the Japanese to oppress other peoples during WWII, for instance.
Race was always there in the accounts of what happened in New Orleans. Some of the commentary of those slavering to finally reveal the awfulness of George Bush's America tended to parallel the commentary of those who believed that it all just showed that blacks were intrinsically irresponsible.
(ADDED LATER: Just because half the blogosphere has linked to this essay by Bill Whittle is no reason for me not to as well. It is long, but well worth your time.)
The videos of disorder, looting (including looting by policemen) and gang violence are indisputable. The first-hand accounts of racial harassment of stranded white tourists by black youths aren't going to go away either. However the more apocalyptic stories of mass rape and so on have not been confirmed. The Guardian's Gary Younge wrote yesterday:
New Orleans police have been unable to confirm the tale of the raped child, or indeed any of the reports of rapes, in the Superdome and convention centre.I hope that the initial estimate of many thousand dead may also prove to have been an exaggeration. When there is a disaster in a developed nation casualty estimates peak after about two days then steadily decline as missing people finally manage to contact relatives. It's different for disasters in undeveloped nations, where days after the initial call relief workers can be confronted with whole wrecked villages they hadn't known about.