Peace through victory - the American way.

Friday, September 16, 2005

"Racist" Nation Opens Wallet To Hurricane Katrina Survivors.

The alleged racism of the American people remains an unfortunate topic in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Yesterday, on Hardball, Chris Matthews opined that the reaction of the country to Hurricane Katrina would have been different if most of the victims had been white instead of black. Here's what he said (transcript here):
MATTHEWS: Do you think the country was less upset? Suppose we did digitalized [sic] the faces of all the people who were in that crowd of the Convention Center, out in the street begging for help, and all those people turned out to be white people by some digital manipulation.

Do you think the country would have had a different reaction to those people‘s plight than the fact that they were all black? Do you think the country would have had the same reaction if they were all white people?

[EVAN] THOMAS: I think so, yes. I do.

MATTHEWS: Well, I don‘t.

Of course this is just his opinion and he says so immediately after the quoted exchange, and like a certain part of the anatomy everyone has an opinion. The problem here is that the opinion doesn't appear to be based on any facts. At least Matthews didn't cite to any. Instead his opinion seems to be based solely on what his views are of the American people. That view apparently is that white Americans harbor racist feelings against their fellow black citizens or at the least, that white Americans don't really care much about what happens to black Americans. It's hard to figure how else to read what he said. [ADDITION: This quote follows the above exchange and should have been included originally.]
MATTHEWS: That‘s just my view. That‘s just my view. I won‘t ask you, Norah. You‘re a journalist, or a straight reporter.

I think the reaction would have been completely different if all those people were white down there.


MATTHEWS: I think there would have been a lot more sympathy from white people.


MATTHEWS: A lot more sympathy.

The evidence tells a different story. The Chronicle of Philanthropy website on September 9, 2005, (here) reported that charitable giving after Hurricane Katrina is more generous than after 9/11 or last year's tsunami. Although overall giving has not reached the levels for those two events the pace of giving is much higher.
Americans have contributed at least $670-million to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The pace of giving is unprecedented in American history. In the 10 days after the 2001 terrorist attacks, Americans donated $239-million to charitable causes, and in the nine days after the tsunamis hit, major American relief groups raised $163-million

According to the Chronicle report the main disaster relief organization, the Red Cross, is reporting record donations for Hurricane Katrina relief.
The American Red Cross, in Washington, has raised far more than any other charity, taking in $509-million. By comparison, two and a half weeks after the South Asian tsunamis, the Red Cross had raised a little more than $173-million.

"It's overwhelming," says Sarah Marchetti, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross. "People are just pouring their hearts out, and making a donation is an expression of that."

As of September 15, 2005, the total contributions to the Red Cross has increased to $688.9 million. (Website here.) Moreover, President Bush said in his speech last night that the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund (website here)has raised $100 million.

For a bunch of racists, the American people are pretty generous to the people they supposedly don't care much about.

The evidence pretty strongly suggests that the American people don't have a racial problem when it comes to Hurricane Katrina's victims. The real racial problem seems to be with the reporters, pundits and demagogues who let their own personal opinions about race in America creep into their reporting and commentary on this story.

Someone once infamously said that a person could never go wrong by underestimating the intelligence of the American people. That's a debatable point. What isn't debatable is that a person who underestimates the generosity and compassion of the American people will always be wrong.


Correction: Apparently noted cynic H.L. Mencken is the guy who said, "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." Close enough.



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