“We Charge Genocide!”

Let’s talk about the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane
Katrina victims in real terms. Let’s name it for what it is: Genocide.

That’s
what Brother William L. Patterson did in 1951 after the UN Convention
on Genocide went into effect. Patterson presented a document to the
United Nations that argued the failure of the federal government to act
against lynching. He used Article II of the UN Convention. And so can
we.


The Convention on Genocide defines genocide as acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” The acts that are applicable in this travesty that ultimately spanned three states include “killing members of that group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” and “deliberating inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part…”

The book contained the powerful treatise delivered to the UN with a preface by Ossie Davis. The petitioners came from all walks of life and included such notables as Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, Mary Church Terrell and Paul Robeson. The petition doesn’t just talk about the physical genocide of Black people in a vacuum but links it to economics, mental harm, the right to vote and the general denial of our participation as full citizens. The petition goes on to meticulously detail acts of genocide against Black people from 1945-1951 as documentation of the Genocide Convention violations.

For years, there has been the sounding of the alarm about the sinking city of “Nawlings.” The state of Louisiana loses about 25 square miles of land a year, roughly the equivalent of a football field every fifteen minutes. The historic city, already below sea level, is surrounded by more water. Every year since 2001, the Bush Crony Congress has reduced the budget of the project to build up the levees to withstand Level 5 and 6 storms. In 2004, it was reduced by 80 percent due to monies being diverted to the Iraqi War. The same place all the Louisiana National Guard troops were when they were needed for the greatest natural disaster this country has ever seen.

Last year, a mock exercise was conducted in New Orleans by officials from over 50 local, state and federal agencies using a fake hurricane by the name of Pam. Almost to the letter, what they saw then is what New Orleans experienced during Katrina. One glaring fact was that over 100,000 people would not be able to evacuate because no one in the household had a car.

What I am saying is that the scope of devastation and ensuing complications were known and have been publicly stated for at least the last five years by experts from many different fields looking at the doomsday scenario. Irresponsibility at this level that impacts such as multitude falls under “complicity in genocide” outlined in the Genocide Convention’s Article III.

Now to the response, or should I say lack of response, by federal departments. It became painfully clear after the first 24 hours that these poor folks, mainly African-American, were going to be left to fend for themselves. Even Mayor Ray Hagin telling them to “get off their asses” didn’t stimulate a faster pace. In the following 24 hours, the media people on the ground were compelled to speak to the glaring class and racial character of the situation. Independent filmmaker Michael Moore said it bluntly when he speculated that white people in Kennebunkport, MA would not have been left on rooftops for five days.

Yet before our very eyes, tens of millions around the world witnessed the abandonment as the despair and suffering deepened. In the absence of a swift and productive response by the Bush administration, tens of thousands of self-propelled relief efforts were unleashed across the country. It was a natural human response to the sights and sounds of unbelievable suffering and despair ever caused by a US natural disaster. Mayor Nagin predicted that most of the deaths will be unrelated to Hurricane Katrina and more to the turtle speed at which life-giving supplies and evacuators came. He included in this number the suicides that have taken place, including two city policemen.

Bush finally began to feel the pressure and decided to come off his vacation.

We must not let the blame-game degenerate into no one being held accountable. It has to start with Bush. Yes, we know he’s inept. Everyone knows that he kept reading a children

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