Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Similkameen Spotlight week of Oct.  3, 2005)

The Desperate Race Card

  By John Martin

Tragedy tends to bring out the best and worst in people.  Despite a lack of preparedness and coordination from the mayor’s office right up to the White House, countless relief workers heroically risked life and limb to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

At the same time we saw looters and price gougers selfishly cashing in on the disaster.

But it’s the Bush - Haters who proved to be the worst opportunists in the wake of devastation.

Critics are clearly justified in their outrage at Bush’s inadequate response to the devastation.  And it’s only natural that his enemies will want to parlay this into political currency.  Were a Democrat in the White House, Republicans would do likewise.

But accusations that race is the real reason for an inept emergency response are below the belt.

It’s not enough that every singer, actor and filmmaker is a foreign policy and military expert. Now they’re emergency preparedness gurus as well.

Kanye West used the NBC relief concert to claim “Bush doesn’t care about black people”. 

Celine Dion went on Larry King and blasted the administration for being more concerned about Iraq than heavily black populated New Orleans.  Making the bizarre connection she asked, “how come it’s so easy to send planes in another country to kill?”

On his website, Michael Moore posted, “can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days?” 

And it’s not just rappers, singers and Hollywood who are recklessly playing the race card.

Journalists and Democrats in the Senate have also jumped on the bandwagon and are having a field day linking the failed response to racism in the Republican Party.

Democrat strategists even plan on showing the footage of black people on apartment rooftops crying for help during the next election as proof that blacks don’t matter to Republicans.

Does anyone actually believe that rescue workers in helicopters hovering over the city were instructed to make sure someone was white before they were air lifted?

It’s interesting that the high infant mortality rate and lower life expectancy of African Americans has never been blamed on health care providers who don’t care about their black patients.

Or that the high incarceration rate of young black males is a function of lawyers who save all their loopholes and legal arguments for their white clients.

Or that the high illiteracy and drop-out rate of black high school students is on account of teachers who are more interested in the education of white kids.

But then again, doctors, nurses, lawyers and teachers tend to be Democrat voting liberals.   So there’d be no political mileage for Bush - Haters to slander them.

This is politics at its ugliest.  And any Mississippi riverboat gambler will tell you it’s only going to get uglier.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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