Oct. 31, 2007
by Will Covert of La Mesa
Below find a copy of a Letter to the Editor of the San Diego Union Tribune (email@example.com) which may or may not get published. If you agree with its content and would like to lend support please forward the letter on to any list-serves you are a member of . . .
My Fellow Southern Californians,
First, let me say that my heart goes out to all in our communities that have suffered loss in the recent firestorms. I feel some survivor’s guilt as I was unaffected personally by the recent devastating firestorms. Other then the inconveniences associated with living in a disaster area (such as traffic congestion caused by evacuations and road closures and poor air quality) I escaped any personal consequences. As a result my perception of the firestorms and its aftermath may differ from those of us that did suffer loss.
After Governor Schwarzenegger and President Bush had declared Southern California to be a disaster area and therefore eligible for government funding to rebuild our communities, I couldn’t help but think of New Orleans and the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
I spent a week in the Lower 9th Ward this past March as a member of a group of Veterans for Peace volunteers rehabbing a home to avoid its being demolished by the City of New Orleans. At that time it had been about a year and a half since Hurricane Katrina had inflicted its wrath on the Gulf Coast. The community still lay in ruin and most of the support and funding promised by President Bush had not yet reached local residents. Home owners had been forced, many at gun point, to evacuate their homes, as well as, the city only to end up in cities as far away as Seattle or even San Diego. And so here we are today, more than two full years since Katrina’s visit to the Gulf Coast and much of New Orleans still lies in ruin with most of the promised federal assistance still unavailable to residents.
Meanwhile President Bush has promised support and funding to assist in the rebuilding of San Diego County and Southern California. This should raise concern among residents. When President Bush promises this support and funding to assist in the rebuilding of the devastated areas of San Diego County and Southern California, is it the same kind of promise he gave to the residents of New Orleans, a hollow promise without substance?
Or, on the other hand, if President Bush does as promised (make funding and support available to the residents of Southern California who have suffered loss) is it appropriate for the predominantly white, mostly well-off communities of Southern California to accept such assistance before assistance has been adequately delivered and instituted in the predominantly African American communities of New Orleans?
I don’t think there can be any disagreement among residents of Southern California regarding the “right and wrong” of this question. It is right and appropriate for Southern California residents to gratefully accept assistance and government aid in its efforts to recuperate from a natural disaster. I believe that this is one of the prime functions of a state and federal government. However, I believe it is wrong to accept such assistance when its availability and timely delivery is being determined along racial lines. And whether we wish to believe it or not, even a cursory investigation of the matter will reveal that it is, in fact, a racial issue.
But always out of adversity arises opportunity. In this case, the opportunity is for the residents of San Diego County and Southern California to do the “Right Thing”. The “Right Thing” in this case, is to gratefully accept the support and financial assistance of government in their effort to rebuild community and to once again normalize life. However, that acceptance should be conditioned upon the government first honoring its commitment of promised support and financial assistance to the victims of th
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