Taken altogether, this is what I fear will happen: The victims of the flood will be portrayed via racist stereotypes as criminals and idiots. This will predispose the audience to disliking them. Then, after everything settles down, a few right wingers will start implying that the dead brought their own fate on themselves by being too stupid and/or criminal to evacuate. This focus will distract the pundits from discussing the real issue at hand, which is why the fuck we didn't have the resources on hand to evacuate a city that has Hurricane Target written all over it. Before you know it, it'll be a wingnut bonaza of people both gleefully indulging in the most racist tendencies while simultaneously claiming that the only reason one might end up dead in a hurricane is because one doesn't have "personal responsibility".
. . . I have to admit my first thought was, "Hey, whoa, let's not go off half-cocked here." But then I scrolled down a little further to Atrios's interesting juxtaposition of two photo captions from the hurricane aftermath. Notice how the African-American guy is a "looter," while the two white folks were merely "finding" bread and soda to feed their families. Fascinating stuff, that. And not in a good way.
On the one hand, taking stuff that isn't yours is wrong. And when they showed tape just now on Headline News of a bunch of African-American folks rushing into an abandoned grocery store in N.O. and coming out with arms full of food, there was a little part of my brain shouting, "Hey, you can't do that!" But I think there's a difference between the looters in the Rodney King riots boosting TVs and CD players and the people in New Orleans who have no electricity or running water and who ar just trying to feed a family of four or five who's huddled in a soaked, smashed-up house waiting for FEMA to show up. You take advantage of a disaster like this to improve your home theatre system, you're an asshole -- but you go into an empty grocery store that nobody's looking after and come out with some bread and bottled water or whatever so that your family doesn't starve, well, maybe that's more properly defined as survival, and I'm not going to spend any energy wagging my finger and tut-tutting these desperate people when there are so many more important things to worry about right now.
And I hope nobody else does, either.