Monday, August 21, 2006

An American Tragedy

I watched the first part of a two part documentary called "When the Levees Broke", showing events that occurred before during and after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. HBO, along with Spike Lee has documented a tragic event in current American history that makes you take notice.

I watched hypnotized as I did almost a year ago when seeing CNN news reports on the effects of Hurricane Katrina in the gulf coast. I also wondered as before why? Why wasn't there help sent sooner?

After watching part one of "When the Levees Broke" I'm still wondering just what the hell has happened to America that a tragedy like this could occur in a modern city of ours?

The documentary isn't so much a finger pointing blame game, but a documenting reflection on what happens when tragedy strikes, help doesn't come and hope is fading fast. Individuals step up and help where American politics and whatever else prevents federal emergency assistance from immediate deployment.

One smack in the face to America was when Venzuela and other small countries offered assistance while FEMA promised but delivered very late. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin talked about having the Canadiaan Mounties show up offering assistance before the American military showed up.

But again, it's not a documentary that judges or blames but one that puts you there with the people who lived it and watched loved ones die from it.

The filming and the music which accompanied it are a sort of homage to the courage of the survivors much like the many 9/11 documentaries except for the human aftermath. In 9/11 we related to the tragedy visually through the deadly impact of airplanes and the structural demolition of two buildings, no bodies and few survivors. In the Hurricane Katrina tragedy we saw the hurricane, saw the dead and watched in horror the hopeless aftermath where thousands of suffering survivors were stranded with little help. A Natural Disaster may have started this tragedy, but its obvious from the documentary that the breakdown in human response attributed to the disaster.

If I were a political science professor I'd assign the viewing of this documentary to all students. Be a student and watch this HBO show. Its smart to educate yourself about the country you thought you knew and the heroic potential of people like those you may know.

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