Columnwhoring

On the anniversary:

“FEMA didn’t have any food for those people in Gretna,” Harry Lee said. “They didn’t give me any food. I didn’t have any water. My obligations are to the people of Jefferson Parish.”

We’ve done enough. Go somewhere else.

We’re not used to grand gestures in America. Most of us give small amounts to charities and assuage our own guilt, our own need to feel useful, and then don’t think too much more about it. Overwhelming generosity, of the kind that truly alters the landscape of want in this world, is reserved for the super-rich or the frankly-rather-crazy.

Their acts are held up as examples outside the norm, extraordinary and honestly a little odd. People sigh that they wish they could act like that, or talk about how admirable it is, but hold it, always, at a distance.

When people march across a bridge and into our comfort zones, we turn them back with guns.

At some point, the mood in Gretna (and across the country) turned from one of seeking to provide humanitarian aid to one of enforcing law and order. Right-wing Web sites erupted with calls to shoot looters on sight, and former First Lady Barbara Bush chuckled at the plight of evacuees arriving in Texas, saying their homelessness was working out well for them since they were “underprivileged” anyway.

Lawson asked, “Without communication, food, water, enough buses and gasoline, how long would it take another American city to reach the limits of its compassion?”

We’ve done enough. What more can you ask of us?

A.