Many of us bitch and moan about the commenters on NOLA.com. To the site’s credit, it’s doing a better job of moderating these days, but it’s still pretty easy to find racist, homophobic, inflammatory remarks lurking below the fold. I mean, I’m not asking anyone to curtail her right to free speech — if you want to expose yourself as a bigoted asshat, that’s your prerogative — but for Pete’s sake, STAY ON TOPIC.
More troubling than the folks at NOLA.com, though, are the people who comment on New Orleans stories found elsewhere on the web. This piece on CNN.com about the marsh fires generated some fairly representative remarks. For example:
When will the population of NOLA stop looking for someone else to constantly bail them out? When “are they going to do something about it”? When are you going to do something about it? If it is so terrible organize the thousands it’s effecting, give them some shovels and buckets and a ride out to the area. “They” are out of money!
The marsh is on fire, no one is doing anything about it. What are they supposed to do? You decided to live in a fish bowl in the middle of a swamp, and the rest of the country is supposed to feel sorry for you every time the wind blows the wrong way. You need to visit a different part of the country where you can actually take a deep breath and not smell swamp gas, you would be amazed.
Which it to be expected, I suppose. It’s easy for folks to criticize us “heathens” in New Orleanians when they think the finer things in life consist of Applebee’s and Calvinist work ethics.
But what’s shocking — I mean, holy-crap-what-the-hell shocking — is to hear Louisiana’s own elected officials making equally fucked-up statements. With FEMA working overtime in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and a summer full of brutal storms that ravaged the Midwest and South, the agency is understandably running short on funds. But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said that before Congress will allot any more dollars to FEMA, the allocation will have to be countered by spending cuts.
Is it surprising to hear a Republican legislator from Virginia with a rod up his ass make such a statement? No. It IS, however, entirely surprising that two representatives from South Louisiana are backing him up:
“We should establish priorities that allow us to help those impacted by disasters, and that also means we must eliminate federal funding for things that we can no longer afford to do, just as we did earlier this year in response to the Mississippi River flooding when we identified billions in wasteful government spending to offset the cost of that response.” — Representative Steve Scalise
“The need to provide for the recovery from this disaster does not alleviate us of our responsibility to cut federal spending and restore fiscal sanity in Washington.” — Representative Jeff Landry
Mother Nature has left people homeless, jobless, living in shelters, and legislators want to talk about line-items? Seriously: screw those guys.
Alternately, you could send them both a tersely written letter that suggests they stop rimming the Tea Party’s cup and remember the role that recovery dollars have played in their own districts the past six years. We’re dodging a bullet with the current tropical system, but it could’ve been much worse down here.