Friday, September 02, 2005

Looters: Can We Blame [All of] Them?

I've heard a lot of people talking around me about how looting is such a problem in New Orleans right now. I'm quick to think of looters as being these profit-oriented thieves who are breaking into Best Buy and grabbing all of the HDTVs that they can (because, what, they're going to sell them out of the back of a rowboat down some dark alley? And to whom?).

But, then I start to think about people who might be looting for the "right" reasons. I'm talking about people breaking into a grocery store to get food or bottled water. Will these people, too, be shot on sight? What about people who have lost everything, and break into a clothing store in order to get some fresh clothes to wear, or sturdy footwear? Are we supposed to hold these people in the same category as the opportunistic looter who might be stealing air conditioning units at this time?

Granted, there has been an evacuation order, so there aren't supposed to be any residents still in the vicinity. But, we're also hearing on the news about how there's a real lack of coordination going on. Some people were interviewed on CNN about how one police officer ordered the crowd towards one location, but when they got there, the police at that site started firing their guns into the air to keep the crowd from advancing.

We're really no better prepared for a loss of normalcy today than we were four years ago. And the authorities in the south had time to formulate a plan (unlike during 9/11 when there was no advanced warning). To me, that's scary.