The Writings of Ingrid Pitt

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Ingrid Says... Pitt of Horror Website Message

September 2005

Ingrid Says....

One of the most sobering events to have occurred in recent memory is how quickly the most wealthy and vibrant civilisation in the world can be reduced to the status of a Third World Country in a few short hours.

This wasn't brought about by a mad scientist with a yen for world domination or much mooted terrorist activity but by a simple act of nature. Or maybe not. Although the cause of the devastation was what is usually cited as an 'Act of God', the lack of response to the catastrophe is almost impossible to believe.

There is also the matter of the Administration's refusal to concede that the freakish weather conditions of recent years, which seem to be getting worse, could be as a direct result of greenhouse gases pumped into the ozone layer with careless abandon.

It took 5 days for any relief to arrive on the chaotic scene of what used to be New Orleans. During those five days there was no fresh water, sewage spilled out everywhere and food was either contaminated or impossible to find. While the Government dithered, the young and the old died on the streets of the city from dehydration, starvation and heatstroke. And the stench of dead bodies choked up the atmosphere until it was almost impossible to breathe.

When, at last, the administration woke up to the fact that it had a disaster of tsunami proportions on its hands, it sent War President Bush, armed soldiers and tanks. It seemed that the shooting of looters had a higher priority than saving the men, women and children, homeless and suffering, who needed help and compassion. Some of the 'looters' were merely breaking into caches of provisions left by those lucky and rich enough to have left New Orleans before the disaster struck.

And the most disturbing part of this little scenario was War President Bush telling the TV crews that he had to fight nature and the terrorists and 'by golly', (the 'by golly' is mine), he was going to do it. He also declined to go to some of the worst hit areas of the city because he was afraid he might be attacked. That sounds a little unbelievable but evidently is fact. The bit about going to some parts of the city, that is - not that he would be attacked.

What does this say about Bush's priorities? If there is a disaster in Pakistan or in Africa or there is an excuse for military intervention in some far flung corner of the globe, American troops are in there before the dust has time to settle. But somehow there's not the kudos attached to sorting out something in the back garden. So the people of New Orleans can wait until War President Bush gets around to their problem. Five Days Later!.

Then he has to make the obscene political point connecting the natural disaster with his obsession with Terrorism. And this in a city that has had urgently needed work on the levees discontinued by his Administration to fund his illegal war.

So what of the rest of the world? This situation is not political. It is about people and compassion. So where are the rescue services in their flame coloured suits with sniffer dogs searching the wreckage? What happened to the blue bereted UN troops? After all the United States is a member. Where are the bearers of rattling money boxes exhorting passers-by to give help in aid of the dispossessed and the traumatised? Just because America is the richest country in the world it doesn't mean that we should turn our backs on the bereaved and dispossessed. Shrug our shoulders and say, "They can afford it. Let them get on with it".

The images I see on Television are not fat-cat financiers or overpaid sports and movie stars. They are ordinary people with no safety net. No insurance. No tomorrow. This was a golden opportunity for other countries to show that we did not fit the symbol allocated to us by the majority of thinking Americans - A Begging Bowl rampant on a field of indifference. Willing to take whatever we can get because we see America as a country with more money than sense, prepared to pick up the tab when things go wrong. This was an opportunity to tell the Americans not to be afraid, they are not alone.

There will, no doubt, be all sorts of official reasons why we didn't have the Rescue Services in there within 24 hours. War President Bush will doubtless spend millions of dollars explaining why he took five days to react to the disaster and then sent gun toting troops instead of doctors, nurses and experts in sorting out the problems of disasters on this scale. That's not what is important to us.

What is important is that we sat and did nothing, enhancing the American view that whenever there is a problem abroad everyone looks to the US to bail them out but offers nothing in return. I would have liked to grab this opportunity to prove that we are not just a snivelling gang of hangers-on. But, like everyone else, I just point the finger and do nothing constructive. I guess we've blown our chance of proving ourselves as good neighbours!

The Writings of Ingrid Pitt