Jewish World Review Sept. 16, 2005/ 12 Elul 5765

Wesley Pruden

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Heroes of the storm abound in the land | This could have been a special, defining moment in America. Maybe it is, anyway, despite the best efforts of the race hustlers.

Rarely if ever in the nation's history have so many Americans gone out of their way to lend a hand to their suffering neighbors. Contributions to the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, the Southern Baptist Relief and other church charities are pushing close to the billion-dollar mark. That's in addition to the government's tens of billions.

Strangers across the land are opening their homes to perfect strangers. No small deal. The Internet is strangling with offers of help, of a spare bedroom, of a vacant house, and if anyone has put strings on any of this, racial or otherwise, it escapes everybody.

Here's a sampling of one of the hundreds of Internet offers, lifted in its entirety from a blog set up by the Houston Chronicle: "I know that we're a long way from you, but ... we would love to help someone displaced by Hurricane Katrina. We live in a modest home in Lake Arrowhead in the mountains of Southern California. We have 2 bedrooms, a small loft and a private bathroom upstairs that is just waiting for someone. We would love to help someone get back on their feet and through G-d, our community and church, we can do that. We would love to help make a difference in someone's life. We live in a mountain community that does get some snow in the winter, but it is usually mild. We're only 30 minutes from the city of San Bernardino and the county is already set up to assist those displaced by the hurricane. We also have wonderful schools and caring people. We can also assist in helping to find work and permanent housing. We can take a couple or a single mom with kids ... We have a king-size bed in one room and 2 twins in the other, and we can get a couple more beds if needed. You don't have to worry ... Let us help you get your life back together."

The story of the fortnight is an outpouring of good will like this, yet the television networks and many of the newspapers persist in portraying the story of Katrina as a story of racism, bigotry, greed, indifference and abdication of responsibility. No one can point to a single example of white mistreatment of black. The stark photographic images, in fact, show white hands reaching out to relieve black suffering. This is no more than should be; helping a fellow man in need, like helping your mother, deserves no particular praise.

But the race hustlers are determined to manufacture racism where there is none. Not just the rapper who accuses George W. Bush of genocide, of having arranged through neglect the breaching of the levees so as to wash black Orleanians to a watery death. Rep. William Jefferson, the New Orleans congressman, says, "If these people hadn't been poor and black, they wouldn't have been left in New Orleans in the first place." The Rev. Jesse Jackson accuses the Red Cross of consigning the black refugees from the storm to their doom: "The rescue has been slow because some see us as foreigners 2/3 human." The Rev. Al Sharpton showed up amidst the welcome at the Astrodome in Houston to pronounce the Herculean relief efforts   —   by National Guardsmen, mostly white, from 23 states   —   as "inexcusable." All crap. But where are the Democrats to denounce this libel? Where are the Republicans, awash in their familiar cowardice, to defend the president from such calumny?

Barbara Bush, the president's mother, visited the Astrodome and saw reality. "And so many of the people here, you know, were underprivileged, anyway, so this is working very well for them." An unfortunate choice of words in an atmosphere when regiments of knockers are always crouched to pounce, to twist innocent words into something harsh and hateful. Mrs. Bush observed, as others did, that black children in the arena were being seen by dentists and physicians (unpaid volunteers all, mostly white) for the first time in their young lives. A fair-minded person would say, along with hundreds of their grateful parents, that yes, "this is working very well for them."

There are villains aplenty in the horrific wake of Katrina. But they're far outnumbered by the heroes. Americans who want to see heroes need only look in a mirror.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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