Tuesday, September 13, 2005

9 steps we can take

marjorie says...

From the executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, here are 9 steps we can take in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

I find particularly compelling steps 5-9. Fine if you want to focus on Bush, but he'll be long gone eventually.

The beauty of this list is that each person can find a way to tap into something on it. I am sure there are other things as well, but this is certainly food for thought.

Sister City ordinance anyone?


1) Let’s tell America that we want to fully fund FEMA — by rolling back the Bush tax cuts to at least Clinton-era levels. The rich must help secure the country against the next disaster. Reckless revenue cuts that leave us vulnerable must be repealed.

2) Let’s declare that the Katrina’s flood-waters washed the GOP’s proposal to repeal the "estate tax" off the table. There will be no tax breaks for the mega-rich while the nation is recovering from this historic blow — and preparing itself for the next one. Any revenue cuts would both impair the rebuilding effort and risk lives down the road. Let’s declare the repeal of the so-called "death tax" to be: D.O.A. (Dead On Arrival).

3) Let’s publicly demand that George W. Bush either apologize to the people of the Gulf Coast for failing them, or else resign. It is time stop fearing Bush Almighty, assuming that he and Karl Rove can keep trashing the country and never pay a price. The man just impaled himself on his own arrogance and contempt for life. Even conservative reporters were outraged by his team’s indifference and dishonesty. Under Bush, America abandoned our poor, sick and disabled in a crisis — and the whole world saw it on live TV. True patriots were appalled. And his smirking and shirking just aren’t cute anymore. A call for his impeachment would draw some right-wing support.

4) Let us resolve not to lose a single moment — pacing back and forth, wringing our hands and trying not to appear too "partisan" or "blaming." Of course, the Republicans are going to howl that we are "finger-pointing" or "exploiting the tragedy." What else can they say for themselves at this point? That Bush did a good job? Let them call us names. And let us stay focused on ensuring that the thousands who perished did not die in vain.

5) Let’s insist that New Orleans be rebuilt — under the direction of those who have lived there for generations, not at the behest of big developers or carpet-bagging profiteers like Halliburton. To that end, let’s passionately support grassroots organizations in the region like Community Labor United, Mississippi Workers Center, Southern Empowerment Project and Project South.
And let’s help any evacuees who relocate to our areas get politically organized, so they can stay involved in the process.

6) Let’s help rebuild the Gulf Coast on a visionary, environmentally sustainable basis. (Alan AtKisson makes a beautiful, well-reasoned and comprehensive case for rebuilding New Orleans as a model "green city.") All of our environmental sustainability, environmental justice and eco-business networks can unite to make this happen.

7) Let’s launch a national network of individuals to help secure from all levels of government properly funded reconstruction and evacuee support. (We are gathering signatures for such an effort here at ellabakercenter.org.) Let’s push our city councils to pass "Sister City" ordinances in solidarity with New Orleans and other hurricane-ravaged towns. Evacuee support should be a yearly budget item in every major city (through the entire decade of rebuilding, if need be). Every mayor needs to appoint a paid ombudsman to support local evacuees and to coordinate information flow with Louisiana and Mississippi officials.

8) Let’s call for National Guard troops to be returned from Iraq, especially those from Louisiana and Mississippi. The Katrina aftermath shows how much we need our disaster relief forces to be back here, in the United States. Let’s tie, with a thousand strings, progressives working in the recovery effort to the anti-war movement. (The United for Peace & Justice statement, "The Gulf Wars" makes a convincing case for common ground.)

9) And let us wage our own war: a war against forgetting. We must not let the media or the Right "orchestrate amnesia" by pushing this tragedy to the back pages. We deserve levels of ongoing media attention that match and exceed 9-11. Every writer, film-maker and artist must share this shameful story: a storm came, and this nation left its poor, Black and disabled people behind to die. We must sear that fact into the memory of this nation. This catastrophe — and its lessons — must become part of the national legend. Only then, can we be assured that the mindset that permitted it will never again lead this country.

Taking these steps — and dozens more like them — are the best ways for us to honor the dead. Through bold action, we just may find the gift in this hideous, grievous wound.

from a longer article: http://www.maconareaonline.com/news.asp?id=11949