September 7 2005, 5:37 PM
It's nice to see that the Rocky Mountain News is seeking a "politically independent voice" to replace ousted plagiarist Thom Beal. After all, somebody's got to balance editorial page editor Vincent Carroll, whose far-right opinions seem to grow more outlandish by the day. Consider today's offering, in which Carroll places the blame for the suffering in New Orleans squarely on the victims themselves:
"According to the 2000 Census," O'Toole writes, "nearly a third of New Orleans households do not own an automobile. This compares to less than 10 percent nationwide. There are significant differences by race: 35 percent of black households but only 15 percent of white households do not own an auto. But in the end, it was auto ownership, not race, that made the difference between safety and disaster . . . "On Saturday and Sunday, August 27 and 28, when it appeared likely that Hurricane Katrina would strike New Orleans, those people who could simply got in their cars and drove away. The people who didn't have cars were left behind." Granted, those without cars were supposed to have been evacuated in advance by state and local authorities, who failed totally to carry out their own plans. But that of course is the point: A private car puts you on your own schedule, both in a crisis and during everyday life.Will somebody loan this guy a clue? The reason that a third of New Orleans households don't have cars isn't because they're tree-hugging liberals obsessed with saving the ozone layer. It's because they're poor. Astonishingly, achingly poor. According to the 2004 census, nearly a quarter live below the poverty line ($9,827 per year for an individual, $15,210 for a single parent with two dependent children), and the city's annual household income is among the lowest of any American city. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if Carroll and his fundamentalist ilk see Katrina as some sort of supply-side Rapture, where the worthy are miraculously spirited away to safety in their Range Rovers, while the poor are left behind in Armageddon, waiting for redemption to trickle down?