Archive for August, 2017


Prepare? Nah! Probably Not

Flood evacuees

In 2014, Kate Allen wrote a piece in the Independent on Syrian evacuees.

Since the violence erupted in Syria, 2.3 million people have fled the country, more than half of them children. The Syrian refugee crisis has been called “the most pressing humanitarian disaster of our time”, yet the UK government’s reaction has been tentative, to say the least.

I thought of Ms. Allen’s while reflecting on my nine months of FEMA service during the aftermath of Hurricane’s Katrina, Rita and Sandy. William “Brock” Long is charged with fulfilling the Trump Administration’s Hurricane Harvey FEMA effort. And while I sympathize with tactical, geographical and political challenges, I have grown weary of hearing how Hurricane Harvey was “unprecedented” or is a “one in five hundred-year,” no wait, “one in one thousand-year” event.

No. Harvey wasn’t.

All we needed to do was open the history books of Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita. Then, as now, scared and desperate civilians laid in the path of Mother Nature’s middle finger and fled, swam or drowned. CNN, MSNBC and print media filled our senses of vulnerable people: the elderly, unaccompanied children, flood survivors, drowning victims, and abandoned pets.

The Mayor of the City of Houston stated he could not justify evacuating the nation’s fourth largest city. People would die trying to evacuate – which is sort of like saying they’ll die if they try, so might as well die in their homes, terrorized by flooding they cannot outrun. Still, I’m unsure if I can overtly criticize the Mayor. Maybe he’s honest. Maybe he’s a political schmuck representing a broader city council who allowed unchecked regulatory building within a flood-prone area. Regardless, I do, however, note that we’ve been through this before.

Just as Kate Allen described, the European Union’s relocation of Syrian refugees is exhausting, both on an economic and humanitarian level.  Transpose that to Houston, Texas. Image if the U.S. had to relocate 4 million of Houston’s 6 million residents? Where would they go? Dallas-Ft. Worth? San Antonio? Austin? New Orleans?

If many local residents bitch about handling a couple of thousand international refugees, how do we handle the mass relocation of a major metropolitan area? The World Bank defines migration as “a process whereby a community’s housing, assets, and public infrastructure are rebuilt in another location.” Others emphasize other relocation factors as the “permanent (or long-term) movement of a community (or a significant part of it) from one location to another, in which important characteristics of the original community, including its social structures, legal and political systems, cultural characteristics and worldview are retained.”

FEMA is unprepared. In a post-9/11 world, our government’s preparedness for natural disasters takes a back seat to terrorism. 2005 government figures revealed 75 cents of every $1 spent on emergency preparedness went to anti-terrorism programs. A 2015 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey found nearly 60 percent of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster. Additionally, only 39 percent had developed an emergency plan. This is despite the fact that 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit by a weather-related disaster.

This whole post summarizes the obvious: we suck!

As the nation recovers from Harvey, as of this writing, Hurricane Irma approaches from afar. But wherever Irma hits, it’s already too late. The damage to be incurred was created decades ago by ignorant politicians appealing to their partisan base.

Maybe the U.S. will get serious and prepare for the future?

Nah! Probably not.

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 2.55.15 PM
After watching the “Alt-Right,” “This Right,” “That Right,” or “Whatever Right” protests, one could argue Southern Confederate statues are abhorrent relics of a bygone era that adds only painful memories of America history. Many concur with such feelings, as I do.

Looking past all that for a moment, I watched the (what I term) “Make American White Again” protests. I have to tell you, I’m amazed. As marchers carried weapons, shouted profanities, screamed anti-Jewish bigotry, I ask only one question: “Now what?

After all the protests, arrests, injuries and at least one death, “Now What?” That’s the fundamental, unasked, unanswered question: “Now what?” The question basically asks, “What are you going to do after the battle? What will you do post-protests?

Need some thought starters? Read-on.

What economic development will a statue’s symbolism bring America that will employ the unemployed? What will you do to bring jobs to a decimated coal industry? How will the movement bring health care to the uninsured? How will the movement feed the hungry, home the homeless, create quality education, rid the world of nuclear weapons?

How will you resolve the North Korean conflict? How will you resolve undue Russian influence?  Will sacrifice the Island of Guam to destroy North Korea? Will you pull out of NAFTA?

What set of environmental policies will the movement bring forth to reduce global warming? How will the movement resolve Flint’s drinking water crisis? How will you ensure clean drinking water that the current administration wants to end? How will the movement help a single mother become the best possible person? How will we resolve illegal immigration? How will the movement ensure second generation immigrants become the best possible person? And how will you define success … of anything?

How will the movement heal diversity? How will the movement heal race-based beatings Black, Asians, Muslims and others have experienced? How will the movement heal the LGBTQ pain?

If we purge all those considered non-white, what’s the litmus test? Should the litmus test appearance alone? Will a DNA equivalent of 10% non-white or less pass the muster? Maybe 35%? Maybe 10% non-white, but only those races from Scandinavia?

One last point, how will you return the life of a white woman killed by a racist protester?

Tell me this, then we’ll discuss your movement. Until then, get out of the way, you’re preventing progress.

“Even though The Tonight Show isn’t a political show, it is my responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being.”

“What happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, was just disgusting. I was watching the news like everyone else, and you’re seeing Nazi flags and torches and white supremacists, and I was sick to my stomach,” Fallon continued, tears welling in his eyes. “My daughters are in the next room playing and I’m thinking, ‘How can I explain to them that there’s so much hatred in this world?’ They’re two years old and four years old. They don’t know what hate is. They go to the playground and they have friends of all races and backgrounds, and they just play, and they laugh, and they have fun.”

“But as kids grow up, they need people to look up to—to show them what’s right, and good. They need parents and teachers, and they need leaders who appeal to the best in us. The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful. And I think he finally spoke out because people everywhere stood up and said something. It’s important for everyone—especially white people—in this country to speak out against this. Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it.” 

“And remember: there are people who have given their lives to make sure this kind of hate doesn’t spread. They’ve fought and died on the right side of history. One brave woman in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer, died standing up for what’s right at the age of 32. I can’t look at my beautiful, growing, curious daughters and say nothing when this kind of thing is happening. We all need to stand against what is wrong, acknowledge that racism exists, and stand up for all that is right, and civil, and kind. And to show the next generation that we haven’t forgot how hard people have fought for human rights. We cannot do this. We can’t go back. We can’t go back.”

Jimmy Fallon got it right.

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