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August 30, 2005

The ugliness of humans turned animal

In the wake of Katrina we see stories of tragedy, heroics and dramatic rescue. Individuals, companies and foundations have jumped to help in anyway they can. Glenn Reynolds has an extensive list of links to organizations involved in relief.

However there is just something about the suffering of some that brings out the jackal in others. Prime example is to turn on the tv and see video of looting in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS -- With much of the city flooded by Hurricane Katrina, looters floated garbage cans filled with clothing and jewelry down the street in a dash to grab what they could. In some cases, looting on Tuesday took place in full view of police and National Guard troops.

At a Walgreen's drug store in the French Quarter, people were running out with grocery baskets and coolers full of soft drinks, chips and diapers.

When police finally showed up, a young boy stood in the door screaming, "86! 86!" -- the radio code for police -- and the crowd scattered. ...

Around the corner on Canal Street, the main thoroughfare in the central business district, people sloshed headlong through hip-deep water as looters ripped open the steel gates on the front of several clothing and jewelry stores.

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."

I've heard people compare looting to grave robbing. But it's worse. It's taking big hunking mouthfulls of a living body unable to defend itself. This is vampirism. This is the reduction of civilization to mobs of predators and thugs, salivia dripping off chins slack under eyes no longer human.

Gov Haley Barbour makes it plain.

"I have instructed the Highway Patrol and the National Guard to treat looters ruthlessly. Looting will not be tolerated and rules of engagement will be as aggressive as the law allows."
IMO I wish he could have been stronger.

The person running down the street with a microwave under one arm and a fistful of jewelry in the other hand deserves nothing more than a bullet to the head.

Posted by Darleen at August 30, 2005 08:31 PM


It is a tragedy.

Just a note, not all are looters. If the system has broken down and there is no way to buy what you need, you have to get it somehow.

Food, batteries, clothing? Maybe not.

DVD player, TV, jewelry: Looter

Posted by: SactoDan at August 31, 2005 12:55 PM

The stealing of TV's and such all struck me as rather silly considering that I wonder how displaced people are going to move to shelters with large electronic devices anyway. They were stuck at the Superdome and later probably another shelter, so I think the effort spent in stealing TV's and stereos would probably have been better spent in getting some food.

That being said....I have to give people a bit of leeway in the department of stealing food. I think pundits have been a bit harsh in judging those who had to go without food, water, or baby supplies for 4 days. As someone who can barely go for 4 hours without eating, I can imagine the bitch I would become after 24 hours, and 72 hours I'd probably be delirious too. And even though I'm not a mom yet, if I had a baby crying in my arms incessantly in hunger, and I wasn't able to feed him/her, that would make me desperate to get him whatever I could get.

Also, hunger, heat, tons of people stashed in one space, and no law enforcement do lead to chaos. Even though people in India weren't looting after the tsunami, they were fighting over food when it did arrive. Though not as much, which makes you think.

Hunger can bring out the crazy in all of us. But raiding an electronics store while your family is starving IS a bit out there. Plus I wanted to go down there and smack all those guys who were shooting at the aid helicopters and causing them to run away rather than landing. I mean you want food, the food is finally here, but then you fix it so that the food can't get there? THAT is called holding the place hostage. THEY are a big reason why babies went hungry for 4 days--or died.

I read something somewhere that talked about how during past tragedies like Galveston in 1900, or the Titanic, there was simply more chivalry. The men went out of their way to help the women and children and babies to safety. Today, they rape them and steal their supplies, and hurt or kill the babies. And in those tragedies people were just as scared and/or hungry. So there IS a societal component involved there, and we can't deny it.

Posted by: Marian at September 24, 2005 12:01 PM