Friday, September 15, 2006

Wanna B Victims

I have noticed a tenancy among a number of acquaintances to portray themselves as victims of crime related to Katrina. To be sure they were all affected by the events.

My barber told me shortly after reopening that he had been looted. I don't think so. His storefront window was broken and he had some damage, but most of his stuff was still there, including things I think most looters would have taken. His window was most likely broken by wind or flying debris. I was back before he was. I was at his shop within two weeks of the storm and saw the damage then. He was gone much longer.

My neighbor recently told me people were living in his gutted house. Odd, my trailer is right next door. I never saw anything, except the front gate open. As far as I can tell some people may have entered his house but no one was staying there. He also told me someone one had broken into his trailer and messed up the bed. The bed had never been made. The linens were never unpacked. These were very odd intruders, they left the battery and the propane tanks sitting on the floor.

I have theories but I can't be sure.

I'm not entirely sure what happened in either of these cases. Like many of rumors still circulating about the events following the flood. The stories I've been told don't seem to match the evidence.

I have, for example, recently been informed in all seriousness about second and third hand reports of wide spread FEMA favoritism and Superdome deaths numbering in the thousands. Then there are the more widely publicized rumors of all sorts of things.

Why do otherwise reasonable people want to believe these things?


Lisa said...

Drama addiction, one-upsmanship, need for attention, sympathy, etc. (File it all under ego, I guess.) For some, just going through this whole ordeal isn't enough. Too many others are sharing the experience. Maybe they feel they need a better story, and in the absence of something sensational, they just make it up. Or maybe they thrive on a belief that things are worse than they really are. Some people are just like that. I know a few personally.

(Yeah, I know it was a rhetorical question, but...)

Thomas said...

Thousands of deaths in the superdome; the actual number was somewhat smaller than these wild tales floating about would have us believe. Try along the lines of 6 corpses. Unless the wicked members of the N.O.P.D hid the other 1,994 bodies, I would dismiss such numbers as wild exaggeration. Why would people exaggerate well chalk that up the psychology of the survivor. Many people have memories that are false (a sort of fictional Finalism) So by saying how awful it was and how fortunate they are to be alive they are able to cope with the actual loss of everything that was near and dear to them. Or perhaps once the men stop looking over my shoulder I should say “yes it’s worse than we thought they really are out to get you” Just some of my twisted humor at work. A bit of irony you might enjoy after I was back in Oklahoma and back in school we had several former resident of N.O end up in one of the classes I was taking, Our professor introduced them as survivors but one of these guys is a fellow my squad detained and took to the detention center (at the bus station) I guess possession of a controlled substance is no big deal in a disaster area.
Favoritism by FEMA yes that I would believe, there was after all a concerted effort to keep residents of New Orleans away from the site where FEMA and other took their meals, and I saw more than one hungry citizen turned away by armed security guards. As far as you FEMA provided trailer keep it well ventilated as a recent report states some of these trailers have higher than normal amounts of fumes that could be hazardous to your health; as if you didn’t have enough to worry about.

celcus said...

I have been puzzled by the same thing since those first days after the storm.

I have a neighbor who insists Blackwater Security was going through the flooded neighborhoods at night with night vision googles and hunting down and killing anyone they found there. Of course the bodies were somehow hauled to the river through a gauntlet of reporters and National Guard and dumped without anyone noticing.

We are creatures constructed largely from our memories. When the early sensationalized reports came out people grabbed onto the only thing in their experience that seemed to make sense of it. There certainly is a racial dynamic involved that could go back to fears leftover from the Haitian revolution. Somewhere in the collective conscience there is that fear which was the black/slave revolt and a brutal response.

We saw a similar dynamic during 9/11, when the Oklahoma City bombing was what people recalled. How many thought there would be days of rescuing people out of the wreckage, and how many rushed to give blood to help? If a loved one is missing, you are supposed to put up flyers, and so on.

Does this mean everyone is a racist? Of course not. It just shows how easily we can fall back to old outmoded assumptions when we have not or cannot make sense of something.