Recently, I was listening to Paul Harvey News while at work. We listen to it everyday because it’s nice to have something vaguely informative to listen to while we eat lunch. I like to laugh at the ridiculous news stories that are so strange and mundane that it is highly improbable that anyone would have actually even heard the story at all. He makes outrageously assumptive and optimistic statements regarding technologies that are in the works. I’ve heard him imply that cancer should be gone within 10 years and that transportation pods are coming in the near future! I have come to this sort of love/hate relationship with his show. While I enjoy his homespun reasoning to some of the “softer” stories, his politics tend to turn me off due to what I would call political ignorance. I understand he is 87 years old and perhaps might be going a little crazy, but on his show on January 15, 2007 he reached a personal low, even for his renowned absurdity, which absolutely got my blood boiling!
The thing that got me going on this particular show was a segment he dedicated to comparing the recent onslaught of snowstorms in the mid-west to hurricane Katrina. Paul Harvey started by referring to a certain town (no mention of the actual town, I can only assume that it is one of them that got hit in Colorado) that has received snowstorms of “biblical proportions” for the last 4 weekends. I’m paraphrasing here, but he went on to say that unlike New Orleans, this town did not “wait” for the government’s help or demand trailers to live in. These people dug each other out of the snow and relied on each other to overcome their adversity. There were no complaints from the ACLU and Jesse Jackson did not complain. They didn’t need affirmative action.
By this time, my head was reeling with the preposterousness and racist nature of what was being said. How is affirmative action even relevant to disaster relief?!? It became pretty clear that these unsympathetic comments were mainly directed at the black community there in New Orleans. I understand that Hurricane Katrina was not necessarily limited to the black community but, by and large, it was the poor people that got hit hardest and the black community made up a majority of them. I also understand that Paul Harvey’s comments may have been an attempt at rhetoric meant to show how the government should not be relied on and that we can put more faith in our communities and ourselves to overcome obstacles, but he is missing some glaring differences here.
That fact is that, unlike the towns that got pummeled with snow, New Orleans had to be EVACUATED! The whole city! There wasn’t even enough community left to do what needed to be done. How could they have relied on only themselves? In addition, the city flooded which completely destroyed the homes, making them unrecoverable, not simply buried in snow. Any home can withstand a horrible blizzard with much more efficiency than it can withstand the devastation of a flood.
The idea that Paul Harvey ignores these simple differences is completely self-serving to his right-wing politics. It’s really easy to say that the government is incompetent and that the New Orleans community should have just taken care of themselves rather than complain about the government. It requires no action, no reform, no sympathy for those affected. To compare these blizzards to the hurricane underscores the resentment much of middle America, namely those on the right side of modern politics, has toward those in the lower class, much of whom are black. They assume that the lower class are there for a reason: they are lazy and incompetent (stereo-types that I hear frequently attributed to blacks). This, once again, is an easy response since it, too, requires no action or sympathy. I consider this lazy and ignorant. Shame on Paul Harvey for exacerbating this socialized racism.