Reading about what is going on in New Orleans right now is mindboggling. The descriptions of events provided by the media read more like tales of a third-world uprising that a modern American city. Since we all can’t drive down there to help out (and probably shouldn’t) FEMA has a good list of relief organizations worthy of financial support.
The scope of this tragedy hasn’t stopped some people from trying to make political hay about it. The dumbest thing I’ve read so far is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr’s article saying basically the President’s CO2 emissions policy caused the hurricane. The apple apparently fell quite far from the tree with this guy.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have David Brooks’s New York Times piece, where he looks for historical connections to Katrina, in the hopes of anticipating the social and political repercussions sure to come after the floodwaters have receded. Brooks is quite right that events of this scale tend to have significant and long-term impacts on the political life of a city or a nation. The longer lawlessness and death reign in New Orleans, the deeper those scars will be. I think that Brooks doesn’t go far enough back into history, however, in looking for parallels to this week’s event. In my opinion, the closest historical parallel to Katrina happened in 1755.