In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sep. 1, 2005 / 27 Av, 5765

Mother Nature meets Human Nature

By Michael Graham

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Across America, millions of people are responding to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina by opening up their hearts and checkbooks to help those in need. Across the Gulf Coast area, volunteers and rescue workers are responding to the horror by working around the clock, some risking their lives to pluck victims from rooftops and rivers.

And then there are those in New Orleans itself who, confronted by the devastation, reacted in a way that reminds us, not of the fearful power of Mother Nature, but the tragic depths of human nature: The stole everything that was not tied down.

These were scenes that made me shake my head in disbelief: Looters casually filling plastic bags, shopping carts, even handtrucks with loot, all in clear view of their neighbors, the media, even National Guardsmen.

What hit me like a punch wasn't the looting itself as much as it was the attitude of the looters. Reporters challenged them, asking the thieves and thugs if it was their own stuff they were taking, and the looters just laughed.

One man, who had about 10 pairs of jeans draped over his left arm, was asked if he was salvaging things from his store.

"No," the man shouted, "that's EVERYBODY'S store."

Moms and their kids lugged cases of beer and soda out of a grocery store, smiling at the TV cameras they passed. Men with bundles of clothes lumbered nonchalantly out of stores on Canal Street in the French Quarter, while others busted out windows to grab "emergency essentials" like jewelry and luggage.

Where were the cops, you ask? According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune website, they were at the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, helping themselves to computers and flat screen televisions.

A crowd in the electronics section said one officer broke the glass DVD case so thieving teenagers wouldn't cut themselves. "The police got all the best stuff. They're crookeder than us," one man groused to the press.

One looter, 25-year-old Toni Williams, shrugged when confronted by a reporter as she loaded up with stolen supplies. "It must be legal," she said. "The police are here taking stuff, too."

The more I watched, the more stunned and angry I became. The more I listened, the more outraged I felt—as when Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu defended those people looting stores of food and water ("That's understandable," she told MSNBC). Instead of condemning this opportunistic thievery outright, this Democratic Senator urged Louisiana's looters to "use good judgment."

What does that mean—only steal from Republicans?

One news story quoted a local named Mike Franklin, who stood nearby and watched the looters' progress. "To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society," he said.

Again and again as I watched these sickening images of brazen looting from an American city, I asked myself: Who ARE these people? Who are these pathetic losers who raise little kids to be lookouts while they steal and teach him the phrase "86" to warn of approaching police? Who are these people who, surrounded by the bravery of law enforcement and rescue workers in the midst of a crisis, choose to give into their lowest, most base selves? Who is this Mike Franklin who excuses this shameful theft and thuggery as a legitimate response to "oppression?"

"Get back at society?" You mean the society that gives you, for free, 12 years of education? Whose cops patrol your streets and whose taxpayers provide billions in welfare payments, health care and other benefits—not to mention billions in FEMA money? Is that the "oppressive society" you have in mind?

Because, speaking as a member of the oppressing class, I want my stuff back. The jeans and the computers and the beer and the chips—I want the selfish dirtbags who stole it to bring it all back. I want their ingratitude acknowledged and their shameful acts undone.

Because the store whose doors they kicked in did not belong to "everybody." Those stores, and the products for sale on their shelves, represented work. They represented investment and sacrifice and saving and risk-taking, all to build a successful business that one day would face the unavoidable devastation of a hurricane and the unforgivable destruction committed by their fellow human beings.

It's offensive to hear anyone, from a US Senator to a street-cruising sneak-thief defend this looting as legitimate. This thievery was not inevitable and it's not excusable.

My family and I were in Richmond, VA in September 2003 when Hurricane Isabelle hit and knocked out power and water for more than a week. Like hundreds of thousands of others with rotting food in our fridge and thirsty kids at home, we had to stand in hours-long lines for water and ice just to get by…and we did.

Donate to JWR

No riots, not stealing, no jumping the ice truck and trying to hijack it. Just people standing in line waiting their turn. Why couldn't that be New Orleans?

I believe the looting occurred because of what President Bush calls the "soft bigotry of low expectations." When a US Senator excuses your crimes and a neighbor can explain it as a sociological reaction, then why not? Why not steal? Why not (as occurred in New Orleans) shoot a fellow looter for getting better stuff than you? Or why not (as also happened) shoot a cop in the head for trying to stop the looting?

If you live in a community whose culture celebrates lawbreaking, and your neighbors and leaders expect no better from you, it must be awfully tempting to give in.

In many parts of America, a rising tide like the one in New Orleans would bring out the best, the most generous, and the most responsible elements in the human character. For whatever reason, the culture of New Orleans' inner city instead brought out the very worst.

Insurance companies are talking about $25 billion in damages from Hurricane Katrina. But the damage to the image of the American character may be far more destructive than that.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Michael Graham is a talk show host and author of the highly acclaimed "Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War." To comment, please click here.


© 2005, Michael Graham