Featured Column
Week of 9.19.2005
Our plight, our blame!
          Most Americans were surprised at the ferocity and resultant damage from Katrina and the “levee-leak.” We had never before seen destruction, loss and suffering that followed the hurricane and the rising waters in New Orleans.
          We were also astounded to find out that America is composed of over 37 million people living in poverty. What brought it to our realization is the televised agony of thousands of poor, mostly black families attempting to regain a portion of their lives immediately following the horrible winds and rising waters.
           Watching the horrors that the mostly underprivileged residents of the Gulf area of America had to endure was like watching a bad movie. This couldn’t be happening in America. For many it was the first glimpse of a hidden portion of our country. Here, on television, were the poor, the needy, the aged, the infirm, deprived of even the most basic of human needs. Thousands were in need of food and water. Thousands more were deprived of their medicines. Thousands more were stranded in the upper floors of their simple homes, unable to leave due to the stinking rising waters. We watched with nauseating interest the bloated bodies of those unable to weather the winds and water floating amid the streets of New Orleans.
           A catastrophe had struck our country and we were not prepared for the depth of the tragedy.
           And now we find ourselves listening to tales of thousands of the children of Katrina separated from their parents. We watch as thousands are sent to the wrongly named Superdome. It should have been called the “Miserydome.” We listen to the stories of families separated, living in various states thanks to the warmth and hospitality of strangers. Some will return to their homes in the Gulf area, most will not. We wait for body counts. We listen to the endless chatter of the politicians, attempting to take advantage of the bitter pill of nature and man.
          Winds, floods and fire have ravaged a significant portion of our country and from the first windfall and the beginning of the rising waters pundits attempted to place responsibility. Who failed us, the mayor, the governor or our president? Who will carry the blame? Did the misery multiply because poor blacks were involved? Would efforts have been increased and more successful if the winds and rising waters had lambasted Beverly Hills instead of New Orleans?
          I’ve never been a fan of our current President Bush, partially because he appears to be “communicationally-challenged.” Words, sentences, paragraphs – meaningful thoughts do not flow easily from his mouth and brain. His attempts at warmth and empathy sometimes fail him. At the worst of times his Florsheims end up between his lips.
          My feelings about President Bush range from embarrassment to anger to commiseration to understanding to pride and respect. I do believe that the current President Bush loves America and believes, sincerely, in protecting our land.
          I doubt if he will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents. We will most likely remember the war in Iraq as Bushes’ war. I believe history will show that there were few if any substantial reasons for us to invade Iraq.
          And that brings us to the blame for the tragedies following Katrina and “Levee-gate.” Hours of newscasts are filled with the politicians and “experts” offering opinions of what should have been done and what wasn’t done. The pain on the faces of those thousands of former residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama will not be changed to smiles by the placement of blame.
          Homes will not be salvaged, families united, the dead raised or neighborhoods reborn by the pointing of fingers.
          Our total energies should be devoted towards a recovery. The mayors, the governors and our president should be supported with all of our might and devotion.
          When the last child is reunited with his or her parent. When every poor family is situated in a home of their own. When every displaced person is gainfully employed. When we begin lowering our count of Americans in poverty – then there will be time for placing blame.
           I have a hunch there will be enough blame to spread around – when the time comes.
Blame in New Orleans
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger