Taking notes 51: Dark waters: Katrina and the politics of disposability

Philosophers for Change

kat_Enrique Chagoya

by Henry A. Giroux

Hurricane Katrina does more than evoke a critical understanding of institutional racism and the politics of racial disposability[1]; it also elicits new and more dangerous justifications for racist policies. For instance, the neoliberal shill Malcolm Gladwell reaches a new low with his piece on Katrina titled “Starting Over” which was published in The New Yorker.[2] He argues that for many of the 100,000 poor blacks displaced by the storm involuntary displacement was a good thing because it opened up new opportunities for upward mobility for them and provided a model for public policy. When Barbara Bush uttered a similar statement after Katrina, she was condemned roundly in the press for being morally insensitive. Greeting displaced Katrina victims in Houston in the aftermath of the hurricane and forced evacuations, she exclaimed “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway…

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