"Grow gills."-- Jonah Goldberg's advice to the people of New Orleans, August 29, 2005
Ten years ago, much of our Conservative Alternate Reality Media very publicly shit the bed during the man-made catastrophe that destroyed New Orleans, killed +1,800 people and sent hundreds of thousands of American citizens into exile.
As the disaster unfolded, some of what was being said was captured for posterity at sites like The Cunning Realist, one example of which was Lucienne Goldberg's shitbag telling the losers of New Orleans to "grow gills":
On Monday, August 29, NRO's Jonah Goldberg advises people in New Orleans to "grow gills" (each post header below links back to the original):I think it's time to face facts. That place is going to be a Mad Max/thunderdome Waterworld/Lord of the Flies horror show within the next few hours. My advice is to prepare yourself now. Hoard weapons, grow gills and learn to communicate with serpents. While you're working on that, find the biggest guy you can and when he's not expecting it beat him senseless. Gather young fighters around you and tell the womenfolk you will feed and protect any female who agrees to participate without question in your plans to repopulate the earth with a race of gilled-supermen. It's never too soon to be prepared.
The indefatigable Media Matters also documented some of the atrocities:
Ann Coulter just called out MoveOn on Hannity & Colmes:
MoveOn.com is down protesting outside the White House. How about putting together some evacuee bags? How about actually helping out? Speaking of that, I think I’d like to hear a breakdown at the end of this, how much churches are contributing versus… MoveOn.com?Last Thursday, as tens of thousands of families found themselves newly homeless, MoveOn launched an emergency national housing drive called HurricaneHousing.org. In just one week, over 235,000 beds have been offered to Katrina victims through the site.
ThinkProgress to Ann Coulter: How about you stop embarrassing yourself on live national television?
This was a rare moment in American political culture because, as the late Steve Gilliard noted at the time, the Bush Administration's complete abdication of its most fundamental domestic civic responsibilities in the face of such a disaster momentarily scrambled the Right's lock-step support of the worst President in American history:
At every turn, the right has stepped up to the plate like John Cole and Cunning Realist, or revealed their race hatred, like the folks at the Corner. I mean, people like John Derbyshire have dug up their 1964 nigger hatred guide. I wonder if they pipe in Johnny Rebel and Skrewdriver as they work?
I think it reveals something else, that the divide on the right which is coming is going to be about how they see America. Joe Scarborough has long been a whipping boy for the left, but he actually stood up and tried to help people. The Manchester Union Leader, so right that it should be printed in German, ripped into Bush for his failures. I think a lot of these people see Americans in trouble and want to help them. They certainly act that way.
Hell, for several days after it became clear how monumentally the Bush Administration had fucked this up, even David Brooks' reaction was so...appropriate...that I officially retracted 4% of what I have written about him in the past and promised that, yes, if he were on fire, I now would whiz on him to put it out.
Mr. Gilliard got a lot right on his News Blog, but sadly, ten years later, what my friend and blog-father got wrong stands out in more and more painful relief every day. Ever the hard-nosed skeptic, Steve Gilliard nonetheless believed that catching the racist Right out so far on the wrong side of history might change things:
...A couple of days ago I was reading a Bob Sommersby post chiding Atrios for calling the Corner folks racist. I had to admit that I don't read Bob much, and with that post, he simply entered irrelevancy. He went on about people being helped in "red states" and blogs recreating the yippies. It was weird, as if he had been living in a cave the last week. I know he has his hobby horses, but after that, I can't imagine anyone taking him seriously anymore.
Because I have never seen such racism in my life on or offline.
I posted the crap posted by the racists at the Corner, and frankly I'm stunned.
I'm also deliriously happy.Why, because, they are shown to be the extremists that they are. When I call Jonah a racist, I will forever have his gills post to prove my point....
The Southern Strategy has been exposed for what it was, a fraud to con whites into hating blacks while benefitting the rich. Oddly enough, Bush's crony state has failed white Mississippi as badly as black New Orleans. Many conservatives have demanded both accountability and effective responses.
But there are others, like the folks at the Corner, who need to prove how good it is to be white.
You have to see Mark Williams on Headline News. Not only did the Dem react in horror, Karyn Bryant, who is biracial, was equally stunned and angry. OxyBoy Rush called NO Mayor Nagin Nayger
But what is so stunning is how out of tune they are.
They don't get it.
Sometimes the world changes before your eyes. December 7th was such a day, November 22nd was one, so was July 4th. Those days didn't just change America, they changed the way we saw the world.
The right blogosphere, used to defending Bush, is caught on the wrong side here and not only do they don't know it, they keep digging deeper. Ann Coulter says something so dumb, so obviously disprovable, it's like she doesn't get that the rules have changed. Her petty attacks are wildly inappropriate, and more importantly, just not relevant. Everyone from the Southern Baptist Convention to MTV are helping to raise money and feed people. The only people not doing anything are the righties. They're too busy pointing fingers at poor, helpless people who might have picked up a case of water so they didn't die in 90+ degree streets with no shade.
If the GOP is the daddy party, it's a crooked deadbeat dad telling the judge that partial payment is fine, even if the kids are on the street.
Americans don't like open racism, even the TV reporters recoiled after seeing how people used their footage to demonize the poor.
This is the most serious domestic crisis since Pearl Harbor, and these folks are acting like it's still Ok to be Bund members. They don't get that everything changed after Bush failed to help the Katrina survivors.
The right bloggers are treating this as politics.
A lot of people, left and right, realize the implications here, and Bush is being hammered because of this. If there had been a terrorist attack on a chemical plant or if an LNG tanker, FEMA's inaction would have killed thousands of people from untreated trauma injuries. This is no longer about politics, but survival.
To be frank, all 9/11 did was change the scale of our response to terrorism. It didn't even really change Manhattan. The dead linger in my memory, but except for the few blocks in Manhattan, life went on. Three thousand families were changed. Here, hundreds of thousands of families are going to be changed forever. A lot of sadness, but the subways never stopped running.
But New Orleans is gone. I mean, a unique way of life is gone. It doesn't get much more serious than this. And the right bloggers are making jokes and arguing about buses....
But Gilly was wrong.
Ten years later, and the Conservatives who were momentarily driven from their doctrinaire spider holes by Katrina have long since gone back the profitable business of pimping Conservative claptrap, blaming Both Sides and lying about American history.
Ten years later, if you ask the average Republican base voter what happened during Katrina, you will hear a lot about "buses", "Liberal", "government dependence" and more or less everything else that Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh shat into their skulls ten years ago. As far as they're concerned, this is settled history, just as the assassination of Vince Foster, death panels and a "stand down" plot by the Obama Administration to murder American foreign service officers in Benghaaaaazi is settled history.
Ten years later, and Jonah Goldberg is still doing just fine, thank you very much, and Ann Coulter is still treated as an honored guest on Fox News, and a trusted adviser by the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
Ten years later, "Heckuva Job, Brownie" is being give the full rehab treatment, and Dubya can visit New Orleans to give a speech and is not drive from the stage by a tsunami of rotten eggs and tomatoes.
Ten years later, the MSNBC you used to know is all but dead, the Liberal blogosphere is a ghost of what it once was, and Steve Gilliard's words crumble quietly to digital dust in the untended grave of The News Blog.
Ten years later and, irony of ironies, it may turn out to be that fighting every day just to remember our yesterdays as they really happened -- just to conserve the past against an implacable onslaught of revisionist propaganda -- is most important duty we dirty Liberals have.