Monday, September 12, 2005

Race Prejudice, Class Prejudice?

See what you think about this exchange between Don Imus and Newsweek's Johathan Alter from today:

Monday September 12, 2005

Imus: "The response to the plight of these people affected primarily in New Orleans was the result of what, in your.. Was it class? Was it race?"

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter: "I also spoke to Barak Obama this week and I thought that he was pretty sensible about it. The local response was tinged with racism. You had, there's an anecdote in the story that I wrote. A Newsweek reporter down there spent a couple of days with a water taxi operator and was helping get him around town to see what was going on, from St. Bernard's Parish. And over the course of two days, this guy did not pick up one black person. Every single person he rescued, dozens and dozens of people, was white and he was just full of racial epithets and the n-word and just wasn't going to do anything for anybody black. On the other hand, I think that Senator Obama is right that the ineptitude at the Federal level was color blind. It's not like Michael Brown and President Bush had what Obama called 'active malice' but there was a passive indifference. I think that was the Senator's expression which was quite clear. I think the real factor there may have been just that there was no election right around the corner. They would've been more on the case if it had been like last year. Remember the Florida hurricanes and the feds were down there immediately to make sure that nobody had any trouble there. So the pressure was off, no election, no real concern in the United States about poverty and the less fortunate among us."

Imus: "What if the majority people of the affected had been white, what would the response had been from the top down?"

Jonathan Alter: "I think, again, I think the factor was really that there was just no intense political pressure."

Imus: "It would have been the same you think?"

Jonathan Alter: "I think it would have."

Imus: "You're a naive fool."

Jonathan Alter: "We're talking about two different things here. Are you talking about the response from Washington, or the overall?"

Imus: "Both. From the Oval Office on the idiot Mayor of New Orleans."

Jonathan Alter: "Who is African American."

Imus: "Well whatever. There's more class prejudice.. there's as much class prejudice and racism within the black community as there is within the white community. Anybody knows that."

Jonathan Alter: "Clearly it's a slew of racial and class prejudice that we're talking about here. But I just think that you need to separate the larger problem, which is what we explored in Newsweek this week from saying that, you know they got down there on Friday instead of Thursday because the people were black. I'm not sure I would say that."

Wouldn't you, Alter? If this sort of thing hit, say, Malibu California, you think the level of disaster, panic, disease and mayhem would be exactly the same.

For once, I do pretty much agree with the I-man.


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