August 31, 2005

Did It Have to Happen?

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which has still not been fully realized, some are asking the question: Did this have to happen? According to the Editor & Publisher, it didn't. An article published yesterday is accusing the Bush administration of diverting funds for hurricane- and flood-control to the Iraq War, leaving New Orleans' levees vulnerable to breaches. Of course, we know that the flooding in New Orleans would not have been nearly as devastating if two of New Orleans' levees had not broken. According to the article, local officials said that if the funds had been there for hurricane protection, "the damage might not have been nearly as bad as it turned out to be."

As Catholic Christians, our primary responsibility right now is to pray for and offer assistance to those who have been so affected by Hurricane Katrina. That doesn't mean that this should be a period of zero accountability for President Bush and the federal government. After September 11, we were too ready in the face of national disaster to sit back and pretend that the President was some kind of demi-god who could do no wrong. We must not let that happen again. If President Bush and the federal government are in any way responsible for the destruction in New Orleans or other parts of the Gulf Coast, we the people must hold them accountable. If indeed funds were diverted from protection of our own national infrastructure to President Bush's unjust war in Iraq, it's time for him to be held accountable for that. We have been told time and time again that the Iraq War is keeping us safer at home; in light of this evidence, it seems that the opposite is true.

We must demand accountability. If not now, in the face of our nation's worst disaster, with the possibility that its worst impact could have been reduced, then when?