The House released its investigative report on Hurricane Katrina this week, under the title "A Failure of Initiative." The report is an indictment of government failure at all levels federal, state and local.
In 379 pages, plus 141 appendices, the report documents government failure in major areas that, if handled better, could have reduced the death and damage caused by Katrina.
But it is also important to note what the report does not say. Nowhere is there any conclusion that the poor response resulted from racism.
We may recall, as the disaster in New Orleans was unfolding before our eyes, the allegations from Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others on the black left, that the poor response was racially motivated.
These allegations were, of course, absurd. I wrote then that this was a tragic case in point of the inherent inefficiencies in government. Yet, the baseless and inflammatory allegations of the usual black demagogues achieved their destructive objectives.
Jackson, Sharpton and others who play the same game are not and will not be deterred by the demonstrable absence of truth in their pronouncements. They know that truth is irrelevant to their objectives. Those objectives _ exploitation of a vulnerable black populace and getting coverage by media more interested in sensation than careful analysis _ are achieved by making preposterous claims. Validity of these claims doesn't enter into the equation.
We might simply ask how is it that Sharpton, whose initial claim to fame was the infamous Tawana Brawley scam, can continue to make clearly false allegations on racially sensitive issues and still be regularly invited to appear in the media and be interviewed as a serious analyst and commentator.
The damage that the Sharptons and Jacksons cause is twofold.
First, there is the damage of the allegations themselves. A poor, black population, with a history that is unquestionably defined by injustice, is fertile ground for demagogues. History and circumstance make these folks susceptible to claims that they suffer because of an inherently hostile and racist "establishment."
The result is empowerment of the demagogues Sharpton and Jackson get rich and powerful and the blacks they are talking to are driven deeper and deeper into a destructive funk defined by hate, hopelessness and dependence. The very mindset crucial to producing change and renewal faith, hope, personal responsibility is driven into oblivion by these politics of hate and blame.