Volume 8, Number 14 September 18, 2005
Hurricane Katrina and the levee
by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Muímin Muhammad
If it is true that when a piece of false information is spread through the media and people form opinions based on that information, and after three days those opinions do not change even though they subsequently find out that the first piece of information was untrue, then what would be the effect of four straight days of truth? I, like many others, watched CNN, the Weather Channel and other channels waiting to see if our people stranded in New Orleans by Katrina and the ensuing flood would get rescued or at least get some clean water and food.
Katrina hit New Orleans on Monday, but the flooding did not begin until Tuesday. I heard Mayor Ray Nagin say in a press conference that the 17th Street levee had broken, but that the Core of Engineers were going to immediately start dropping sand bags into the breach. However, all day Tuesday, the water continued to rise. We looked at the news expecting the "cavalry": ships, boats and hundreds of helicopters dotting the skies, picking up survivors and dropping food and water. Wednesday passed and no "cavalry". Then finally, Thursday, Mayor Ray Nagin got fed up and told everybody to stop giving press conferences, because he felt that these press conferences were being used to give false hope to his people, leaving them helplessly waiting in bad situations. He finally ordered them to "march towards relief." In other words they were told to take care of themselves because the government was not helping them.
Finally on Thursday afternoon a few National Guardsmen showed up and packages of food and water were dispensed to those waiting in the hot sun at the Convention Center. By Friday, the "cavalry" was in full force and a modicum of order and hope was restored.
While many people were riveted to their TV screens waiting on the "cavalry", I was praying that my people stayed calm under these inhuman conditions and not panic or riot. I felt that when the "cavalry" did finally show up, they would come in with their guns blazing restoring "order" and shooting them down as the "savages" that the media was trying to portray. God blessed His people to stay calm and suffer, and die like the Jesus in the Bible on Mt. Calvary. If indeed there is a Chosen People, those Black people in New Orleans acted as such, waiting faithfully on first, the US government, but then lastly on God.
After the government finally showed up, it used the media to try to develop a different spin on what everyone had witnessed with their own eyes, as the events unfolded. But no amount of spin can now erase those four days where America showed Black people that they did not matter. No spin will ever be able to dismiss the "rape" of the dignity of those people in the Super Dome, the Convention Center and those left to die on the bridges of New Orleans. This event will become a watershed in the racial atmosphere of America.
Like the O.J. Simpson trial, Hurricane Katrina has exposed the racial divide in America. Poles have shown that 71% of Blacks do not believe that Bush cares about Blacks, while 67% of whites believe that he does. All of this while looking at the same pictures and stories on the T.V.
Last year, 2004, on www.MuhammadFarms.com we wrote an article called "The Hand of God: Hurricanes and Mighty Snow" where we documented how the tracts of the five hurricanes that hit America made a very distinct pattern. So this year, I refrained from trying to find "patterns". However, when I looked at the track of Katrina, I could not help but see that she formed the shape of a "sickle". Now a sickle is used by farmers to separate the wheat from the tare at harvest time.
Katrina is separating people based on their racial predispositions. In her wake will flow a new alignment. On one side are the majority of Blacks and a minority of whites who know that Blacks still suffer because of discrimination and white supremacy. On the other side are the majority of whites and a minority of Negroes who do not want to accept that whites hate Blacks in America.
Minister Louis Farrakhan went to Texas and Louisiana on Sunday, September 11th, to see if what he had heard about the devastation was all together true. On Monday, September 12th he gave his report in Charlotte, NC at Little Rock AME Church. He said that not only was the devastation, pain and suffering from Katrina bad, it was worse than what we were told or shown. Furthermore he said that Mayor Ray Nagin told him that there was a 25 foot crater beneath the broken 17th Street levee which suggests that it was deliberately blown open.
The next day, Tuesday, the media described the Ministerís statements as crazy and irresponsible. The media tried to make it seem that Minister Farrakhan was presenting "conspiracy theories" to stir up racial animosities, as though what the people had been viewing for the last two weeks was not enough. Since Minister Farrakhan spoke a number of articles have popped up on the internet talking about eye witness accounts of the residents who say they saw a barge ram the 17th Street levee. Many others say they heard numerous explosions which officials shrugged off as transformers exploding and not dynamite.
However, on Sunday, September 11th I viewed on C-Span an interview with John M. Barry talking about his book "Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and how it changed America" written in 1997. In this interview he said that levees along the Mississippi River and in particular in the New Orleans area had been intentionally blown open in the past. He described how the levees were blown open in 1922 and 1927.
The 1927 destruction of sections of the levee was done on the orders of Governor O. H. Simpson. The governor was pressured to sign the order by the banking interests in New Orleans who wanted to insure the banking industry and investors that New Orleans was safe. To do this they picked an area where the people were poor and politically weak. The residents were informed but first protested the dynamiting of the levee. However, over time they backed down and accepted the promise of reparations for their properties that would be flooded. They were orderly evacuated which meant that no one died when the levee was dynamited and their homes flooded.
One bomb was not enough. So, for 10 straight days in the spring of 1927 they used multiple explosions and thousands of pounds of dynamite to make a hole sufficient to divert the flood waters from the rich white neighborhoods. And that was not the last time that the levees were intentionally destroyed. It was done again in 1965 to protect New Orleans from the effects of Hurricane Betsy.
So history presents a precedent for this type of shifting the effects of natural disasters to the poor. A good opinion poll question would be: "Would they do it again?"
(more on Katrina-->Hurricane Katrina)