Thursday, September 6, 2007

"When the Levees Broke" - an American tragedy

With the recent commemoration of the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I decided to finally rent the highly-praised documentary "When the Levees Broke", directed by Spike Lee. If you haven't seen this DVD yet, then you don't know half of the story that led to the devastation in New Orleans, and the aftermath of one of the most horrific natural disasters in American history.

One thing that you'll learn after watching the film is that the hurricane and subsequent flooding weren't the worst thing that happened to the residents of New Orleans, especially in the mostly black Lower Ninth Ward. It was the paltry response by various government agencies at all levels that was the real tragedy.

People going without food or water for days. Thousands who were unable to escape the hurricane stuck in the Superdome and the Morial Convention Center in deteriorating conditions. Evacuees being put on planes, being separated from their families, and not knowing where they were being sent. Insurance companies not paying out homeowner claims because (allegedly) damage to homes was caused by floods, and not by the hurricane itself.

After watching "When the Levees Broke", it is hard to imagine that had these people not been mostly black and largely poor and working class, that such indignities would have taken place. That taxpaying American citizens were treated the way that they were during this time of crisis is beyond belief. This film will sadden you immensely. And then, it will drive you to anger.

This DVD should be required viewing for all Americans, but especially for those who believe in the myth that everyone in this country is treated fairly.