Hey! What happened to the racism?


    The House released its investigative report on Hurricane Katrina
    this week, under the title “A Failure of Initiative.” The report is an
    indictment of government failure at all levels _ federal, state and
    local.

    In 379 pages, plus 141 appendices, the report documents government
    failure in major areas that, if handled better, could have reduced the
    death and damage caused by Katrina.

    But it is also important to note what the report does not say.
    Nowhere is there any conclusion that the poor response resulted from
    racism.

    We may recall, as the disaster in New Orleans was unfolding before
    our eyes, the allegations from Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others on
    the black left, that the poor response was racially motivated.

    These allegations were, of course, absurd. I wrote then that this
    was a tragic case in point of the inherent inefficiencies in
    government. Yet, the baseless and inflammatory allegations of the usual
    black demagogues achieved their destructive objectives.

    Jackson, Sharpton and others who play the same game are not and
    will not be deterred by the demonstrable absence of truth in their
    pronouncements. They know that truth is irrelevant to their objectives.
    Those objectives _ exploitation of a vulnerable black populace and
    getting coverage by media more interested in sensation than careful
    analysis _ are achieved by making preposterous claims. Validity of
    these claims doesn’t enter into the equation.

    We might simply ask how is it that Sharpton, whose initial claim to
    fame was the infamous Tawana Brawley scam, can continue to make clearly
    false allegations on racially sensitive issues and still be regularly
    invited to appear in the media and be interviewed as a serious analyst
    and commentator.

    The damage that the Sharptons and Jacksons cause is twofold.

    First, there is the damage of the allegations themselves. A poor,
    black population, with a history that is unquestionably defined by
    injustice, is fertile ground for demagogues. History and circumstance
    make these folks susceptible to claims that they suffer because of an
    inherently hostile and racist “establishment.”

    The result is empowerment of the demagogues _ Sharpton and Jackson
    get rich and powerful _ and the blacks they are talking to are driven
    deeper and deeper into a destructive funk defined by hate, hopelessness
    and dependence. The very mindset crucial to producing change and
    renewal _ faith, hope, personal responsibility _ is driven into
    oblivion by these politics of hate and blame.

    Secondly, the demagogues promote ideas that are exactly the
    opposite of what blacks, or anyone, need. The Katrina debacle showed
    us, in the most tragic way, the limitations inherent in big government.
    Yet, despite the clarity of this picture, black politicians will
    continue to sell the idea that big government is the answer to black
    problems.

    Let’s recall that Katrina was the first big challenge faced by the
    Department of Homeland Security, created as a response to the 9/11
    terrorist attacks. In true Washington fashion, the response to the 9/11
    tragedy was a commission, a fat report and creation of a new
    bureaucracy. The newly created Homeland Security Department
    incorporated under one roof more than 20 former semiautonomous agencies
    _ including the Federal Emergency Management Agency _ with a total of
    184,000 employees and a $40 billion budget.

    USA Today reported a few days ago about the widespread fraud in the
    FEMA Expedited Assistance Program. This is the program whereby $2,000
    payments are available to each household in the disaster area.
    According to USA Today investigators, FEMA records show that 481,624
    households in the four affected Louisiana parishes have received
    payments; however, census data documents only 398,629 households living
    in these four parishes. The implied an overpayment due to possible
    fraudulent claims amounts to $166 million.

    Now that government has demonstrated failure in dealing with the
    disaster, Louisiana politicians want government to play a major role in
    the recovery. In response to local pressure (Louisiana Gov. Kathleen
    Blanco has threatened to try and block a federal sale of oil and gas
    leases off the Gulf Coast), Congress is appropriating another $30
    billion over and above the $100 billion that it has already
    appropriated for rebuilding New Orleans.

    Certainly, government has a legitimate role.

    Creation of wealth and prosperity isn’t part of that role. Private
    initiative is the only answer to black poverty and to rebuilding New
    Orleans. The only beneficiaries of government programs are politicians
    _ black and white.

    (Star Parker is author of “Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big
    Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can Do about It” and
    president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education,
    www.urbancure.org.)