An Unfortunate Break In Social Order
I am not surprised by the level of anarchy that happened in the first days after Hurricane Katrina — and no this has nothing to do with the fact that the majority of the people displaced were poor working class black families. As illustrated in William Golding’s brilliant novel Lord of the Flies, when the trappings of a civilized society fall away, some people who have been good citizens all their lives with turn to anti-social behavior for survival — particularly if the cry for help goes unanswered.
So while I have no love in my heart for those who are shooting guns at rescue officials and looted electronics, jewelry, etc., I am extremely systematic to those who took from stores: water, food and other basic supplies. If you see people around you dying from dehydration and other maladies that you’ve never encountered in your life, you’d do all that you can to prevent to make sure that doesn’t happen to you and your kin — particularly if you’re not sure when help from the outside world will arrive.
As such, I think the media has done a great disservice by broadcasting and over hyping imagines that reinforce old stereotypes about African Americans. Yes I’m sure there were barbaric acts committed — but when the full story comes out, I’m sure we’ll get confirmation that this was only done by a small minority. More importantly, we’ll begin to acknowledge that the majority of people really tried to help and not hurt each other. Maybe then those who are trying to play up racial stereotypes and speak negatively about those affected will eat their words and acknowledge that most of the scavenging done by the good people of New Orleans was simply done in a fight for survival.
The unleashing by some of “the Beast,” the evil that lies within each of us, was partly done out of necessity. The good people of New Orleans as elsewhere in the world typically suppress any feelings to do harm, as they prefer law and order. This reaction is an acknowledgement that the instinct to gratify ones self by harming others and taking that which we have not rightfully earned, does not bode well for the survival of the community. This a core belief in how to effectively live in a modern civil society — not rampant anarchy.