The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Katrina’s blame game

I’ve picked up The Daily Campus twice since enrolling at Southern Methodist, and I’m two-for-two on identifying biased, propaganda-like writing. There’s a reason for the op/ed section of a newspaper and it’s exactly that: opinions and/or editorials.

However, I can’t help but cringe at the thought of the past two commentaries I’ve read going unchallenged by anyone on campus — or maybe I’m the only dork with enough time to notice.

The last two editorials I read were written by Cynthia Halatyn and George Henson, respectively entitled “Federal mismanagement” and “Why is the situation still so bad?” Both articles discussed Hurricane Katrina and both infuriated me to the core.

After reading Ms. Halatyn’s op/ed, I immediately sent her a letter of my own opinion (some of which is included in this article) that can perhaps be deemed a “fact check,” something liberals can’t quite grasp.

Ms. Halatyn’s first claim was that the president has been dodging bullets “by blaming local officials” like the Louisiana governor, Kathleen Blanco, for the delayed response to the hurricane devastation. She fails to mention the fact that Bush has been criticizing his own administration for the poor answer to Katrina: “Bush was not satisfied with the response and there are problems that need to be addressed.”

Secondly, the “blaming of local officials” quickly vanished according to the Associated Press: “Blanco later played down reports of differences with Bush. ‘We’d like to stop the voices out there trying to create a divide,’ she said.” Was that a typo, or are your sources out of date?

The article continues to downplay the looting situation in a short paragraph. Stores are empty, Ms. Halatyn — and not just your worthy Tom Thumb or Albertson’s, but Best Buy, Circuit City and other pricey merchandise stores are entirely empty. There’s quite a difference between the stealing of diapers and DVD players.

Her op/ed ironically ridicules the “blame game” while advocating it. But in all fairness, shouldn’t she have mentioned the most outrageous blame yet to be heard? The most recent spokesman of the Democratic Party, Cindy Sheehan, grieving psycho woman who blogs on Michael Moore’s website, believes Bush’s environmental policies caused global warming and triggered Katrina. Yikes.

Ms. Halatyn wraps up her commentary by quoting New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin: “Get off your asses and let’s do something.”

You do realize that Bush hasn’t gone a day without a public event in support of the devastation? And you do realize that Mayor Nagin recently applauded the work of the Army Corps of Engineers by saying it offered “the first ‘rays of light’” for the city?

As for the gentleman, I’d like to start off by pointing out Mr. Henson’s source for worldly news: The Washington Post and PBS. Congratulations, Mr. Henson, you are a part of mainstream media — two out of the many liberal mouthpieces prevalent in our society.

It’s quite clear that George Henson must have been a master in English, perhaps acing his rhetoric courses. You, my good sir, are the king of hyperboles and exaggerations. Henson said, “New Orleans has descended into anarchy” and “is on the brink of civil war.” He deems the Bush administration a “criminal” one, considering it immoral and inhumane. Cut the crap, your fluff doesn’t add to your argument.

And it continues: “I am not exaggerating when I say that any other president would have been on the ground in New Orleans days ago.” This statement seems a little odd, considering Bill Clinton never visited the site of the World Trade Center after the 1993 bombings. Granted — that was a terrorist attack, and we know how little Clinton cared about terrorism (perhaps it wasn’t as good of a touchy-feely photo-op).

Mr. Henson later points out that Bush “opted to view the disaster area from the comfort of Air Force One — or at least as much as anyone can view from the window of a 767.” Perhaps he was doing what was best for the region and the victims at the time, which was to keep himself, a media-magnet, and his enormous entourage of over 100 people away from a place where the roads, equipment and infrastructure were already somewhat strained.  Maybe he had people’s best interests in mind when he decided that viewing the devastation from afar, rather than disrupting the relief efforts on the ground just by his presence, was better. 

Oh yeah, and Air Force One is a Boeing 747, not a 767. 

It was also claimed that Bush “cut the budget of the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by a record $71.2 million to help pay for his war.” It turns out, according to the Chicago Tribune, that the levee that broke and caused the most damage was just recently upgraded using Federal Corps funding.  Even The New York Times quoted Shea Penland, director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of New Orleans, as saying that the levee’s break was surprising because it was “along a section that was just upgraded.” 

The reason the levee broke was because it was designed for a Category 3 hurricane, not a Category 5, and the reason so many people died was because the mayor of New Orleans was an incompetent moron who had absolutely no clue what to do and no control over his city or even his own disaster evacuation plan.

Am I mad? Yes! Writers should not get away with articles that breach on insanity.


Brian Wellman is a first-year. He may be contacted at [email protected].

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