Saturday, October 29, 2005

Ahmadinejad & Bibi

Iranian president Ahmadinejad's statement that Israel "should be wiped off the map" is, of course, execrable. But the reaction in the West and particularly the US, including a condemnation by the UN Security Council, is extremely hypocritical. Iran presents little concrete threat to Israel, whereas Israel's violence against Palestinians is an ongoing, daily occurrence.

Moreover, one could cite dozens of similar statements by Israel's leaders about the Palestinians, statements never condemned by the US media or the UN Security Council.

Here's one, advocating ethnic cleansing, from ex-Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu of the Likud. Speaking in 1989 at Bar-Ilan University, when he was serving as deputy foreign minister, he declared: "Israel should have taken advantage of the suppression of the [Tiananmen] demonstrations in China [in summer 1989], while the world's attention was focused on these events, and should have carried out mass deportations of Arabs from the territories. Unfortunately, this plan I proposed did not gain support, yet I still suggest to put it into action." (Reported in Yediot Aharanot, Nov. 24, 1989 and quoted by Alexander Cockburn, "Beat the Devil," The Nation, Jan. 8 & 15, pp. 42-43. I cite it in my book, Memories of Revolt.)

"Paradise Now": Palestinian film in US theaters now!

I just learned that Hany Abu-Assad’s latest film, Paradise Now, is about to be released by Warner Independent. (Thanks Laurie!) Much of the film was shot in Nablus, and as you can see from the trailer, it gives a real sense of what daily life is like for Palestinians in the West Bank. The story concerns two young men, best friends, and their last 48 hours, as they set off on a “suicide bombing” mission (what Palestinians call “martyr operations.”) That a subsidiary of Time Warner would release such a film, written and directed by a Palestinian director, starring Palestinian actors (mostly Israeli citizens, like the director), and depicting the everyday conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank (including the separation barriers/apartheid wall), is truly remarkable and unprecedented. (New York Times film critic Stephen Holden gives it a "critics pick" in his review of the film.)

I’ve not yet seen it, but given Abu-Assad’s track record, I’m quite optimistic. His 2002 film, Rana’s Wedding (available from Arab Film Distribution), is marvelous, perhaps my favorite of all Palestinian films. It concerns the efforts of a young woman from Jerusalem to get married, and all the obstacles caused by the occupation and by checkpoints in particular. There are many very humorous moments, which are all the more remarkable because they arise out of terrible circumstances.

Given what Abu-Assad said in an interview about the film with Igal Avidan
and published by, we can be pretty confident that it deals with “suicide bombing” in a complex way, and is not simply a denunciation.

As long as the suicide attacks continue, Israel will not concede to any compromises, and the Palestinians will not get their own state. Do you agree with this view?

Abu-Assad: The suicide attacks are a consequence of oppression, which first has to stop. The Israelis forget that the occupation continued during the Oslo peace process.

Do you condemn the suicide attacks?

Abu-Assad: Why? I am against killing people, and I want that to stop. But I do not condemn the suicide attackers. For me, it is a very human reaction to an extreme situation.

Here are the opening dates announced thus far:
October 28: Los Angeles, New York
November 4: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C.
November 11: Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Monterey, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, West Palm Beach

Warner Independent is also releasing (January '06) what promises to be another great film, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, written and directed by and starring Albert Brooks. (Sony backed out of distributing the film, fearing reprisals in the Arab world.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Dolly & Yusuf

I learned the other night (October 17) when Dolly Parton was interviewed on The Daily Show that Yusuf Islam accompanies her on guitar on her cover of the Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam tune, “Where Do the Children Play?” The song appears on Dolly’s new album of 60s and 70s covers, called Those Were the Days. Yusuf, of course, had to send in his contribution, since he is still unable to travel to the US. Says Dolly of Yusuf: "He's a precious man. He's got a lot of bad press lately but I think he's out to try to save the world, not destroy it."

Back in the day, I was never, ever a Cat Stevens fan, and I remember “Where Do the Children Play?” (from Tea for the Tillerman) as particularly cloying and annoying. I’m glad to report that Dolly’s cover is simply wonderful, and it made me, for the first time, pay attention to the words. It’s all “green” -- save the environment, raising questions about unfettered development and technology. Here are a couple of lines that particularly struck me:
Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass.
For your lorryloads pumping petrol gas.

When you crack the sky, scrapers fill the air.
Will you keep on building higher
Til there's no more room up there?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Merle Haggard: US Out of Iraq

Merle Haggard has released a new album, “Chicago Wind,” and it contains a couple songs that harshly criticize the war in Iraq and its negative effects on the US. “Rebuild America First” includes the following lyrics:
Yea, men in position but backing away
Freedom is stuck in reverse
Let's get out of Iraq and get back on the track
And let's rebuild America first.

Why don’t we liberate these United States?
We’re the ones who need it the worst
Let the rest of the world help us for a change
And let’s rebuild America first

On “Where’s All the Freedom”:
Are we a nation under God anymore?
How long do we cower down?
Is this really still our ground?
Our country is like a prisoner of war
Where's all the freedom that we're fightin' for?

Given that the war is massively unpopular, Merle’s sentiments should not be all that surprising. It would only appear remarkable if you considered Merle as a dyed-in-the-wool reactionary, as many political progressives (who tend not to like country music anyway) seem to do. But “Okie from Muskogee,” as far as I’ve heard, was originally meant as a spoof. Okay, I have no defence for “Fightin’ Side of Me.” But when it comes to songs that articulate a working class sensibility, I don’t think there’s any country artist who does it better. I’ve seen Merle in concert twice, and he’s one of the best artists I’ve ever seen perform.

I got the lyrics from an article by Chet Flippo about Merle’s latest album on (and reprinted by CounterPunch), and in a short note by Ben Ratliff in the New York Times.

So add Merle to the anti-war country ranks, along with Mary Gauthier, and against Clint Black.

45 per cent of Iraqis think attacks on occupying troops are justified

Patrick Cockburn reports in The Independent on an Iraqi Ministry of Defence poll, conducted in August, that shows strong support for resistance to the occupying forces is to be found in both Shi'ite and Sunni communities in Iraq. 45 percent of Iraqis consider attacks on occupying troops justified. 72 per cent feel no confidence in coalition forces, 67 per cent feel less secure due their their presence, and according to 43 per cent, conditions for peace and stability have gotten worse. Subtract the 20 per cent of the country's population that is in Kurdistan, where support for the coalition is very strong, and you are left with little backing for the occupation among Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs. Cockburn notes that social conditions probably play a role in these opinions: "Some 71 per cent of people do not get clean water, 70 per cent say their sewerage system does not work, 47 per cent are short of electricity and 40 per cent of southern Iraqis are unemployed."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bright Eyes: Blasts Bush in Arabic

A friend just turned me on to the Bright Eyes (Conner Oberst) performance of “When the President Talks to God” on The Tonight Show in early May I think, which you can see here, courtesy of ifilm. The lyrics are quite hard-hitting, and I find it somewhat remakable that this was even broadcast.

I have just one comment to add to all the online discussion of this vid. I found only a handful of references to this. The last lines of the song go:
Does he ever smell his own bullshit
When the president talks to God?
I doubt it
I doubt it

What Bright Eyes/Conner sings next is, “Fil mishmish, fil mishmish.” None of the sites on the web which post the song lyrics include these words. “Fil mishmish” is an Arabic expression, meaning literally, “in the time/season of the apricots” or “when the apricots bloom” (“mishmish” is Arabic for apricots). The colloquial meaning is, roughly, “probably never” or “when hell freezes over” or the like.

The fact that Bright sings a phrase in Arabic is even more amazing then his full-out attack on Bush in English.

"Peace Process": Israel seizes more land in West Bank in July than it gave up in Gaza

Many keen commentators (but no US journalists) have noted that Israel's "wrenching" Gaza pullout was a smart way to divert attention away from Sharon's efforts to consolidate and extend Israeli control in the West Bank. A Special Report from The Guardian fills in some of the details:

Construction on the "security barrier"/apartheid wall (when completed, to extend 420 miles) and elaborate "border" posts continues apace.

Construction of settlements and confiscation of Palestinian land in the West Bank has accelerated. According to Dror Etkes, of the Israeli organisation Settlement Watch, "they're building like maniacs." 4,000 homes in settlements are currently under construction and thousands more approved for the Ariel and Maale Adumim blocks. 14,000 settlers move to the West Bank this year as 8,500 leave the Gaza Strip. In July alone, Israel confiscated more land in the West Bank than it surrendered when it pulled settlers out of Gaza.

Such "progress" on the peace front in Palestine/Israel is entirely characteristic of the "peace process" ever since it started back in 1992. Pres. George W. Bush says he hopes a Palestinian state will eventually/soon exist side by side with Israel, but a viable state can never come into being if the US continues, as it always has done, to subsidize Israeli settlement and confiscation in the West Bank.

"Peace Process": Road Apartheid

Special report in The Guardian, Oct. 20 on Israel's creation of a road system in the West Bank which, according to Israeli human rights group B'tselem, has "clear similarities" to South Africa's former apartheid regime. (If you are not Jewish and draw such a parallel, you will be labeled anti-Semitic. Beware! And do not dare to suggest divestment campaigns or boycotts!)

According to the Guardian:

The Israeli newspaper Maariv yesterday [Oct. 19] said the government quietly gave the military the go-ahead earlier this week for a plan to culminate in barring all Palestinians from roads used by Israelis in the West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership and others claim the separation plan, and the road network to make it possible, are elements of a wider strategy to carve out new Israeli borders inside the West Bank alongside the 420-mile security barrier under construction and expansion of settlements.

Israeli human rights group BTselem said Palestinians are barred from or have restricted access to 450 miles of West Bank roads...

It should be added that the Israeli "roads," reserved for settlers and the military, are ultra-modern freeways. Palestinians, of course, have their own, much inferior, much less rapid, roads. Separate but equal?

All this, of course, subsidized and supported by the US government.

Zizek on Fantasy and Reality in New Orleans

Great article from Slavoj Zizek (appearing, amazingly, in In These Times): "The Subject Supposed to Loot and Rape."

Here are a few samples:

The reality of poor blacks, abandoned and left without means to survive, was thus transformed into the specter of blacks exploding violently, of tourists robbed and killed on streets that had slid into anarchy, of the Superdome ruled by gangs that were raping women and children. These reports were not merely words, they were words that had precise material effects: They generated fears that caused some police officers to quit and led the authorities to change troop deployments, delay medical evacuations and ground helicopters. Acadian Ambulance Company, for example, locked down its cars after word came that armed robbers had looted all of the water from a firehouse in Covington—a report that proved totally untrue.

9/11 is the main symbol of the end of the Clintonite happy ’90s, of the forthcoming era in which new walls are emerging everywhere, between Israel and the West Bank, around the European Union, on the U.S.-Mexico border. The rise of the populist New Right is just the most prominent example of the urge to raise new walls.

This is the truth of globalization: the construction of new walls safeguarding the prosperous Europe from a flood of immigrants. One is tempted to resuscitate here the old Marxist “humanist” opposition of “relations between things” and “relations between persons”: In the much celebrated free circulation opened up by the global capitalism, it is “things” (commodities) which freely circulate, while the circulation of “persons” is more and more controlled. We are thus not dealing with “globalization as an unfinished project,” but with a true “dialectics of globalization.” The segregation of the people is the reality of economic globalization. This new racism of the developed world is in a way much more brutal than the previous one: Its implicit legitimization is neither naturalist (the “natural” superiority of the developed West) nor culturalist (we in the West also want to preserve our cultural identity). Rather, it ‘s an unabashed economic egotism—the fundamental divide is the one between those included into the sphere of (relative) economic prosperity and those excluded from it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Lesbian in Kuwaiti Ramadan serial

....Or Does It Explode? reports the presence of a very thinly disguised lesbian character named Ranad in the Kuwaiti Ramadan serial, "Adeel Al-Rouh" (Soulmate). (...Or Does It Explode? describes the show as a "soap opera," but given the fact that such programs have a limited run, they are more properly described as serials or mini-series.)

Beisbol Diplomacy

Joel Gordon suggests that since the White Sox are skippered by a Venezuelan, Oswaldo "Ozzie" Guillen, and their pitching staff is anchored by a Venezuelan (Freddy Garcia) and two Cuban exiles (Jose Contreras, Orlando Hernandez), then maybe Hugo Chavez and/or Fidel Castro be asked to throw out the first ball this weekend? (And plus, there's Cuban Joey Cora on third.)

I vote for Chavez. He called up Ozzie to congratulate him on winning the playoffs, and had Ozzie on his weekly radio show. Plus, Ozzie is a Chavez fan:
"I would say I was honored," Guillen recalled about his appearance a week ago Sunday [October 1] on Chavez's national radio show. "Not too many people like the president. I do. My mom will kill me, but it's an honor to talk to the president."

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Walmart Watch: K-Y Touch Massage Oils

Walmart Family Values: At Walmart, K-Y Touch Massage oils hit the top 10 new health and beauty products for the year 2005. Produced by another mainstream and conservative company, Johnson & Johnson, according to, "J&J doubled K-Y sales with such products as warming lubricants and new marketing approaches that include a cartoonish promotional booklet titled 'The Modern Girl's Guide to K-Y.'" For the full report, go here (you'll have to sign up for Ad.Age to read it); for commentary by John Dicker (I'm not making up the name!), here.

K-Y Jelly was invented in 1917 (and known then as Jelly Personal Lubricant). According to Wikipedia: "It does not react with latex condoms or silicone-based sex toys. In addition, it can also be used for lubrication purposes when taking body temperature by rectum. It has a thick consistency and a tendency to dry out during use, but can be 'reactivated' by the addition of saliva or more water."

"Peace Process": 40% of Gazans, West Bankers Risk Hunger

An AP report, from Haaretz (Israel).
Forty percent of the 3.6 million people living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip can't be sure of getting enough food, either because they can't get to it or because they can't afford it, the UN food agency [Food and Agriculture Organization] said Thursday.

I didn't notice this reported in the US press, typically, but such items can be and are reported in Israel. (The residents of the West Bank who are at risk of hunger, of course, do not include Israeli settlers.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

NBC/WSJ Poll: 2% Of African-Americans Give President Bush A Positive Rating

Who are those idiots?? Let's see, Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza...Did Colin Powell jump ship? Some commentary here. (I found this at Planet Grenada.)

Etan Thomas Antiwar Speech: DJ Shadow & Nightmares on Wax Mix

One of my all-time favorite turntablists, DJ Shadow, on a remix of Etan Thomas' speech referred to below (#82 on this page).

Antiwar Athletes

I've become pretty disaffected with the rampant commercialization of professional and college sports as well as with what I regard as the pervasive corrupting influence of sports on our educational system. So I'm glad to find a couple hopeful signs.

First, there is the speech Washington Wizards' power forward Etan Thomas at the September 24 anti-war rally in Washington, DC. According to Dave Zirn, writing in Common Dreams, it was electrifying. The transcript is here. A couple excerpts:

Giving all honor, thanks and praises to God for courage and wisdom, this is a very important rally. I'd like to thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts, feelings and concerns regarding a tremendous problem that we are currently facing. This problem is universal, transcending race, economic background, religion, and culture, and this problem is none other than the current administration which has set up shop in the White House.

In fact, I'd like to take some of these cats on a field trip. I want to get big yellow buses with no air conditioner and no seatbelts and round up Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Trent Lott, Sean Hannity, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Bush Jr. and Bush Sr., John Ashcroft, Giuliani, Ed Gillespie, Katherine Harris, that little bow-tied Tucker Carlson and any other right-wing conservative Republicans I can think of, and take them all on a trip to the ‘hood. Not to do no 30-minute documentary. I mean, I want to drop them off and leave them there, let them become one with the other side of the tracks, get them four mouths to feed and no welfare, have scare tactics run through them like a laxative, criticizing them for needing assistance.

And then there's Pat Tillman, former NFL star (Arizona Cardinals) and Army Ranger, killed last year (April 22) in Afghanistan and immediately turned into a war hero/football star by the Pentagon and White House propaganda machine. Turned out later he was killed by "friendly fire." Now an article in the San Francisco Chronicle reveals that there are significant contradictions in testimony in the three previous Army investigations into Tillman's killing, and, according to the Chronicle, suggestions that the Army fiddled with evidence to try to protect itself.

What is more remarkable about the article is that it turns out that Tillman, according to his family, was a staunch critic of Bush's war in Iraq and an avid reader--and fan of the writings of Noam Chomsky. One of Tillman's fellow soldiers recounts a conversation from 2003, when Tillman's unit was serving in Iraq in 2003:

“We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq) watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we weren’t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ‘You know, this war is so f— illegal.’ And we all said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s who he was. He totally was against Bush.”

The Tillman story is also recounted in the October 24 issue of The Nation, in an article (again) by Dave Zirin.

Christian Fundamentalism and Anti-Evolutionism Leads to: Homicide, STDs, Teen Pregnancy?!

This is not from The Onion, but from an article by Gregory Paul in Journal of Religion and Society. George Monbiot discusses the findings on AlterNet. Here are a few of the conclusions (from Monbiot's discussion; quotes are from the original article):

"In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion ... None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction."

Within the United States "the strongly theistic, anti-evolution South and Midwest" have "markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the Northeast where ... secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms."

Three sets of findings stand out: the associations between religion -- especially absolute belief -- and juvenile mortality, venereal disease and adolescent abortion. Paul's graphs show far higher rates of death among the under-5s in Portugal, the U.S and Ireland and put the U.S. -- the most religious country in his survey -- in a league of its own for gonorrhea and syphilis.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People, Chopped and Screwed

"screw + chop george bush" as ripley describes it at the riddim method. This is a re-re-mix of The Legendary KO's "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People," with Kanye West's remix from "Ray," the film about Ray Charles plus Kanye's remarks from the September 3 New Orleans fundraiser--screwed and chopped by DJ Ryno, as they can only do in Houston.

Roger Waters, Belle & Sebastian: Against the (Apartheid) Wall

Check out this very compelling video advertisement for War On Want, a British-based anti-poverty organization, and its campaign against Israel’s apartheid wall. The video features music stars Belle & Sebastian on a tour of the wall, as well as music by a Palestinian hip-hop group. The anti-wall Writings on the Wall campaign was launched by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd in June 2004. The image gallery features luminaries like Roger Waters (pictured above), Shane MacGowan (The Pogues), writer Naomi Klein, Billy Bragg, Jerry Dammers (The Specials), and others, including MPs, signing the model wall in support of the campaign.

Check out the site, sign up for the campaign(s).

Why do no US music stars get involved in such campaigns? Is it still too dangerous to a US artist’s career to utter the word Palestine?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Mashup of "Khosara" and "Big Pimpin'"

Here's a mashup of Abdel-Halim Hafiz's "Khosara" and Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'" (produced by Timbaland), from wayne&wax. As everyone knows, "Big Pimpin'" is based on a riff from Khosara, looped over and over again. In this mashup, "Khosara" is foregrounded to a much greater extent, allowing us to hear how the original beat inspired Timbaland. Plus there is a fascinating and very smart discussion by wayne&wax of all the issues involved in Timbaland's sampling of "Khosara". (I found this thanks to Planet Grenada.)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Palestinian-Israeli Hip-Hop in NYC

Dam, the most prominent rap group of Palestinian-Israelis, performs in New York City this Wednesday, at CLIMAX, 14 Avenue B. For downloads of Dam, go here. Be sure to check out "Meen Erhabe (Who's a Terrorist)?". The leader of Dam, Tamer Nafar, and his relationship and eventual falling out with Israeli rapper Subliminal, is featured in a provocative documentary, Channels of Rage (Arotzim Shel Za'am). For more details on the concert, go here.

Palestine's First Octoberfest

In Taybeh and of course, with Taybeh beer. See report in Electronic Intifada, and my earlier tribute to Taybeh here.

Torture of Iraqis for ‘Stress Relief’: US Soldiers

From the Sunday Herald (Scotland), a report that shows, among other things, that the conviction of Lynndie England last week is by no means the end of the story. A few highlights:

Three soldiers – a captain and two sergeants – from the 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Mercury near Fallujah in Iraq have told Human Rights Watch how prisoners were tortured both as a form of stress relief and as a way of breaking them for interrogation sessions.

The 82nd Airborne soldiers at FOB Mercury earned the nickname “The Murderous Maniacs” from local Iraqis and took the moniker as a badge of honour.

The soldiers referred to their Iraqi captives as PUCs – persons under control – and used the expressions “f***ing a PUC” and “smoking a PUC” to refer respectively to torture and forced physical exertion.

(I found this through The Angry Arab News Service.)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Twenty-five Questions about the Murder of the Big Easy

From Mike Davis (author of City of Quartz, Late Victorian Holocausts, Ecology of Fear, and most recently, Monster at our Door, The Global Threat of Avian Flu) and architect Anthony Fontenot, just back from New Orleans. Among the questions in their short piece:

19. Is the Justice Department investigating the Jim Crow-like response of the suburban Gretna police who turned back hundreds of desperate New Orleans citizens trying to walk across the Mississippi River bridge -- an image reminiscent of Selma in 1965?

Muslim Hip-Hop in France

A useful article from the L.A. Times on French-Congolese rapper Abd al Malik, a member of the hip-hop group New African Poets (N.A.P.). Useful in that it provides a different image from the predominant one of Muslims in France's urban ghettoes (banlieues), who are frequently depicted as congenitally disposed to extremist, jihadist Islam. Abd al Malik is a critic of the jihadis and a devotee of Sidi Hamza, a Sufi spiritual leader from Morocco.

Hisham Aidi discusses French Muslim hip-hop and its involvement in struggles against racism, promoting Arab-white-black dialogue, and positions on 9/11 in his article, "Let Us Be Moors: Islam, Race and 'Connected Histories'" (Middle East Report 229, 2003).

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Tali Fahima

Tali Fahima is a 29 year-old Israeli Jew, of Algerian background. She has been under administrative detention (a punishment that thousands of Palestinians and a few rightist Israelis have endured) since August 2004, as a "danger to the State." Charged with participating in the preparation of attacks, of giving assistance to the enemy in time of war, and of illegally carrying a weapon, Tali's trial began in July and is being conducted behind closed doors.

Based on a recent article in Le Monde, it seems that Tali's chief crime is to have been involved in a humanitarian project with children in the Janin refugee camp in the West Bank in 2003-2004. In order to do her work, she applied for permission to the young leader of Janin camp's al-Aqsa Brigade, Zacharia Zubeidi, a wanted "terrorist" in Israel. In response to Israel's campaign of assassination of Palestinian militants, Tali stated that she would be ready to serve as a "human shield" for Zubeidi.

Among the many remarkable features of this story is that Tali is from a typical Mizrahi (Arab Jewish) family, from Kiryat Gat, one of Israel's working class "development towns" that warehouses Mizrahim, and a lifelong Likud supporter.

Fulla: "Barbie with a Prayer Mat"

Interesting article from the New York Times (September 22) about a Muslim doll named Fulla, developed in Syria, that is all the rage among girls in Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar.

George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People

Here's a witty rap song from The Legendary K.O. about W and his miserable handling of Katrina, sampling Kanye West's now-famous live remarks on NBC's September 3 live concert fundraiser for Katrina victims.

Much as I appreciate this rap, I tend to agree with Adolph Reed Jr.'s analysis of Katrina in The Nation (Oct. 6). Reed argues that

Class will almost certainly turn out to be a better predictor than race of who was able to evacuate, who drowned, who was left to fester in the Superdome or on overpasses, who is stuck in shelters in Houston or Baton Rouge, or who is randomly dispersed to the four winds. I'm certain that class is also a better predictor than race of whose emotional attachments to place will be factored into plans for reconstructing the city.

And, he says,

Race is too blunt an analytical tool even when inequality is expressed in glaring racial disparities. Its meanings are too vague. We can see already that the charges of racial insensitivity and neglect threaten to divert the focus of the Katrina outrage to a secondary debate about how Bush feels about blacks and whether the sources of the travesty visited upon poor New Orleanians were "color blind" or racist.