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2005-09-05

Political bias among disaster watchers 

For those of you who haven't seen this quoted at Crooked Timber yet: in a post titled "Katrina Really IS Like September 11", Jim Henley summarized the way the New Orleans disaster has "chiefly served to confirm people in their previously held views." :
Liberals proclaim it proof of the need for a robust federal government … conservatives find themselves confirmed in their belief in the overriding importance of social order vigorously enforced, and libertarians regard the disaster and its aftermath as an exemplary failure of government. … Environmentalists amaze themselves with the realization that Katrina proves we need cars with better gas mileage and religious nuts of all persuasions discern the hand of God … Hooray! Everyone wins! Again!
To which Kieran Healy adds
But maybe Jim is being too cynical. We should be able to separate the question of how to avoid this kind of nightmare in the future from the narrower, more immediate acknowledgment that there was a huge organizational failure.
It is interesting how almost the whole of European public response seems to follow exclusively the US-liberal and environmentalist response patterns, perhaps partly influenced by US media coverage.


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