In It Together?

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Yesterday, when Jonah Goldberg over at the Corner wrote this

Several readers complain that it’s in fact true that the hurricane will disproportionately affect poor people. I don’t really dispute that in the sense most mean it. Yes, the poor will have special hardships. Obviously so. But what I objected to, and still object to, is the reflexive playing of the class card. Is it really true that some middle class retirees who heeded the advice of the government to leave town, only to watch their homes be looted after a lifetime of hardwork for a better life are suffering less than a poor person who lost his rented apartment?

—there wasn’t much to say except, “Eh, it’s the National Review.” But now Jack Shafer of Slate points out that anyone watching TV coverage of Hurricane Katrina is likely to labor under the same confusion:

I don’t recall any reporter exploring the class issue directly by getting a paycheck-to-paycheck victim to explain that he couldn’t risk leaving because if he lost his furniture and appliances, his pots and pans, his bedding and clothes, to Katrina or looters, he’d have no way to replace them. No insurance, no stable, large extended family that could lend him cash to get back on his feet, no middle-class job to return to after the storm.

Right—it may seem odd that these things need spelling out, but as Goldberg’s quote above shows, they really do. Add onto the list of Shafer’s concerns the fact that, as public health and disease become increasingly important issues in New Orleans and Mississippi, the poor are the least likely to have access to care. The inevitable shortage of medicine and vital drugs—something as simple as insulin, for instance—in the post-hurricane period will likewise hit the poor the hardest, and people will die if nothing is done. Meanwhile, as the reconstruction process continues, health facilities and other social services in poorer neighborhoods are likely to be the last to be rebuilt. And so on and so on.

It’s so especially critical that the media reports these things because otherwise, no one else will think of them. But Shafer’s right: “When disaster strikes, Americans—especially journalists—like to pretend that no matter who gets hit, no matter what race, color, creed, or socioeconomic level they hail from, we’re all in it together.” That’s just not true. And perpetuating that myth only leads to further confusion, like the big media “mystery” that not everyone in the city could just shell out $3,000 and leave New Orleans for a few months.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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