From Pine View Farm

Words Fail Me 3

I was, like, actually busy yesterday and today and wasn’t sure whether I would add anything here today, but this has me outraged.

Chris Rabb has tracked down a story in the Los Angeles Times that not only confirms the stories that Gretna township blocked citizens of New Orleans from escaping Katrina, but also chillingly shows that Gretna does not regret its decision.

Here is a portion. You can read the full citation at his site.

GRETNA, LA — Little over a week after this mostly white suburb became a symbol of callousness for using armed officers to seal one of the last escape routes from New Orleans — trapping thousands of mostly black evacuees in the flooded city — the Gretna City Council passed a resolution supporting the police chief’s move.

“This wasn’t just one man’s decision,” Mayor Ronnie C. Harris said Thursday. “The whole community backs it.”


I hope the good citizens of Gretna stop and wonder, sometime, how many persons died, how many families were broken, how many lives were shortened by their actions.

Words fail me.


Well, no they don’t, but I’m not exactly sure how to express what I feel.

There is a lot more than racial prejudice in this.

There is the long-documented fear on the part of the country and the suburbs of the city.

There is probably some simply selfish self-preservation (“We don’t want to compete with anyone for an escape route”).

There is the fear of the “lower classes,” whoever they are, and, no doubt, some status anxiety.

And some fear of the big unknown–that amorphous faceless thing that exists in the city that the suburban and rural dweller does not know and does fear. For some surbanites, the city is filled with the nameless shuffling horrors and the creeping crawling chaos of an H. P. Lovecraft story.

But I know, as sure as I know that my skin is pink, that racism was the moving factor. It would have been a damned shame if those black hordes from New Orleans had fled to Gretna to save their lives.

The citizens of Gretna.

God have mercy on their souls.



  1. Midas

    September 19, 2005 at 10:00 pm

    Oddly enough, I first heard about this on an HPL devoted email list. My thought then was “In this day and age?” I figured that if true, it would come out. In the age of camcorders and direct uplink cellphones, the old tactic of “If nobody saw it, it didn’t happen” would be obsolete. I seem to have been right at least in that much.

    Here’s my effort at Lovecraftism:

    “From the drowned ruins, the Unspeakable Thing leered and gibbered. The Thing that had once been…Man.”


  2. Frank

    September 19, 2005 at 10:10 pm

    “From the drowned ruins, the Unspeakable Thing leered and gibbered. The Thing that had once been…Man.�

    I was just reading a bit of the Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath.

    You earn the Howard Phillips Lovecraft prize.

    But, really, nothing Lovecraft dreamed up is as horrible as what we the people are capable of doing ourselves.

    I cannot find words to express in a public forum how angry and depressed I am.

    Drat. Not even profanity suffices.

  3. Midas

    September 26, 2005 at 7:46 pm

    To be delivered during festivities at the famous Gilman Hotel in historic, seaside Innsmouthe, I presume?

    Still, it is the *banality* of the whole thing that bothers me. The town has a figleaf -fear of rioting spreading across the bridge- but one has to wonder, the best thing they could do at the time was to block the bridge and threaten to shoot anyone who crossed? No potential for crowd control, no possibility of moving the people on out of town to some kind of refugee or processing camp, just a simple “No visitors, this means you?” Midas