Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel drove the racial wedge in deeper by comparing President Bush to brutal Alabama segregationist Bull Connor. "If there's one thing that George Bush has done that we should never forget," Rangel spewed, "it's that for us and for our children, he has shattered the myth of white supremacy once and for all." At a House hearing, a Katrina witness testified unchallenged that black New Orleans residents were victims of "genocide and ethnic cleansing."
The execrable Jimmy Carter waited a few months to unleash his own Bush-bashing bile -- at the funeral of Coretta Scott King, no less -- in February 2006. "We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, those who were most devastated by Katrina, to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans."
Carter's speech not only lacked basic decency. It lacked any grounding in reality. According to vital statistics released just months after the storm by the primary morgue that processed the bodies of the deceased, 48 percent of those who died in the natural disaster were black, 41 percent were white, with another 8 percent unknown and 2 percent Hispanic. Little-noted follow-up analysis confirmed those preliminary results and also debunked the myth that the poor were disproportionately affected by the storm.
Five years later, the same color-coded paranoia and political opportunism that poisoned the Hurricane Katrina recovery permeates every current conflict in the public square: Ground Zero Mosque opponents are all suspiciously funded bigots, according to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Tea Party movement is the new Bull Connor, according to every liberal New York Times columnist. President Obama's critics hate black people, according to every major black Hollywood director and hip-hop mogul. As for the soul-fixing, Nobel Peace Prize-winning commander-in-chief whose election was supposed to heal the divide, I will guarantee you he won't ever lift a finger to repudiate the cynical smear tactics against his unjustly accused predecessor.
Post-racial America, we never knew you.
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