A response to: Give him some slack.
I am astounded when citizens of our Republic, our democratic union, do not hold Bush responsible for homeland security, I think he calls it. Born into the presidency illegally, exhalted for his swift presence at Ground Zero, he made a place for himself in history as a War president. Could George W. Bush have been any other kind of president? I don't think so. I don't believe that George W. Bush would know how to fill his presidential time if not for a war, if not for vacations with cronies on his Texas ranch; if not for ignoring war resisters whose children have been killed in a war he started.
Unfortunately for Bush, but not for our nation, Bush can not make a war out of natural disasters; he cannot blame natural disasters on foreign countries or terrorists. In the case of natural disasters, along with equality between the races, along with poverty, a president must pay attention to food in the kitchen, a roof over the kitchen, good schools, a national health care system; conversations on racism and poverty in America, as well as geologic engineering and global warming. Yes, Mr. President these problems are before us.
Have you not seen poverty and racism in the news recently, in those places your helicopter flew over, in our destroyed Southern cities? Tell me Mr. President what does your gaze take in? What do your eyes see? What registers in your particular idiosyncratic Caucasian mind? In order to deal with domestic issues, our homeland if you will, you must show yourself to be a mensch, Mr. President, a human being.
To accomplish this feat of becoming a mensch, and it is a feat - it takes a lot of work - you must not show arrogance or the pretense of kindness by kissing African American heads in front of televison cameras; instead, you must demonstrate that you have the public good at heart, that you are concerned about everyday ordinary people, whether they are living in the Louisiana Bowl, in urban neighborhoods, on farms or on a fault line in the Pacific Northwest. You must demonstrate, Mr. President, that you are concerned about service, about really serving your country.
Perhaps our current catastrophe will lead you on a path to righteousness, as you are wont to say in church on Sunday mornings. Perhaps in learning to deal with domestic issues, you may even learn something about neighborliness and interacting with citizens of other countries, say Iraq.
Until then, you get no slack from me, Mr. President. Nor do your supporters. Nor does FEMA or any other government agency that has not been doing its job. And doing its job means, among other things, not killing people by instructing them to evacuate when they have no cars or money to evacuate. It means not blaming the victim!
Mr. President, you created No Child Left Behind, but you left the children behind, along with their friends, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. You left them to die on roof tops and in stinking contaminated water turned cesspool, which you created by your lack of efficiency and, most of all, your lack of caring for all of our citizens.
Mr. President, you and your team dishonor us. You and your team, including the head of FEMA, Michael Brown, who had the nerve to say, When evacuation warnings go out, people should realize it's for their own good, dishonor us. You and your team dishonor all of us. Shame, Mr. President, shame. You've brought shame inside our communities, into our kitchens and living rooms. I know this isn't the first time ... but, somehow, tonight, it's especially hard to sleep ...
Esther Altshul Helfgott