02 December 2006


Alright, I’m just incensed at this point. I’m hugely in favor of free speech. I normally don’t get angry at the fact that people sometimes spew the rankest idiocy; it’s their sovereign American right, and I usually confine myself to arguing with their viewpoints, not with the fact that they presented them.

But this has gone too far.

This strikes at me personally, and everyone else who participated in the effort described in this blog. The new U2 and Green Day music video, The Saints are Coming, presents a huge lie (for some reason, the video on YouTube is slightly different from the one MTV is showing). Now, one argument that they seem to be making, that so many of our troops and resources are overseas fighting in Iraq, leaving us vulnerable to disaster at home, has merit: Earlier in this blog, I mentioned a sign we saw on the way into New Orleans reading “Screw IRAQ, troops come home and clean your own yard.” Certainly Louisiana was harmed by having so many (40%, I heard) of their National Guard soldiers and airmen deployed to Iraq. It cost them—in money, in speed, and in pride, for having to rely so heavily on troops from other states. So far, so good, and if that was the point of the video, I might even approve.

But it’s not.

The video shows fictional news footage of dozens of Apaches airlifting refugees, B2s dropping supplies, Navy jets helping to fill broken levees, and (my personal favorite) tanks patrolling the streets of New Orleans in support of Katrina relief efforts, with subtitles like “U.S. IRAQ TROOPS REDEPLOYED TO NEW ORLEANS” and “AIRFORCE LAUNCHES AID DROPS.” Then the video ends with a sign reading “NOT AS SEEN ON TV.”

Well, Bono, or “milk,” or whoever produced this idiotic video, I’m sorry you weren’t watching your TV very closely. The Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard were out in droves doing exactly the sort of things portrayed as never happening in your video. At one point, I was told by a Coast Guard pilot, there were actually more military helicopters flying over New Orleans than over the entire countries of Iraq or Afghanistan. No, they weren’t Apaches—what idiot would send an Apache on a rescue mission, if any other aircraft was available? No, we didn’t rescue people trapped in flood-surrounded buildings using tanks—we used 5-ton trucks, which hold a lot more people.

Or is the problem that’s being lamented the fact that it was National Guard Army and Air Force troops that were called on to help in this disaster? Are they insinuating that the National Guard wasn’t good enough, the States can’t handle it, and the whole thing should have been Federalized? That’s even more insulting. It was FEMA—a Federal agency—which handled things worse than anyone. True, it would have been nice to have troops on the ground earlier, and it’s possible that if so many of Louisiana’s units hadn’t been deployed, that would have happened. But the video is clear that regular troops and equipment are the ones who should have been redeployed to New Orleans. Can you imagine if that happened? How many more people would have died, and suffered, and remained stranded? We, driving from Illinois, were there in about 5 days from the first notice; can you imagine how long it would have taken to get a significant number of servicemen and equipment (including tons of tanks and Apaches, if you go by the video) from Iraq to New Orleans? Weeks.

No, Green Day and U2, we did not need the troops to redeploy from Iraq to help us in New Orleans. We had it handled just fine, thanks. The last thing we want is for the Federal Government and its active military to take over domestic disaster relief too. If you think it’s a good idea that all the troops come home from Iraq, fine. but—except for the fact that the National Guard is overdeployed (which the video didn’t address at all)—that has nothing to do with Katrina relief.

If you’re as angry as I am over this, make some noise! Write letters, post comments on websites, write MTV and ask them to stop showing the video. Free speech means that the Government has no right to censor what people say—it does not mean that we the people have to like or accept any garbage that people choose to spout; only that we may not use government power to silence them. But there are other ways. Speak up. And if you want to see thousands of pictures of actual soldiers actually helping with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina, well, take a look at the Katrina Pictures I collected.

There, I’ve said my piece.