Tag Archives: CityBeat

A tale of Thinly Disguised Racism

Like SF, San Diego has a pretty good weekly, the City Beat. Not that I mean to say that it can measure up to the SF Bay Guardian, but it's not a bad source of information. Plus, there was this awesome piece of journalism a few weeks back.  But, their strength is also a strength of many blogs: media criticism. And, boy do they have much to criticize in the San Diego Union Tribune. Like take this piece of work from U-T Insight Editor Robert Caldwell:

Why did New Orleans suffer a catastrophic breakdown in public order and safety and Katrina become a synonym for the failure of government to meet its most basic responsibilities? And why does San Diego's response to its disaster, by comparison, seem almost a model of efficient, effective response and civic cooperation?

 Well, so, where do you think he went with that one? Yeah, you're right, he went straight for some very thinly disguised racism topped with a dollop of complete ignorance: 

There's one more difference between New Orleans, 2005, and San Diego, 2007. Call it civic culture. In New Orleans, it proved sadly deficient. In San Diego, it's an underlying strength that helped us get through a week of trauma and tragedy.

Call it racist. And the CityBeat goes ahead and lays the smack down on Mr. Caldwell:

First of all, why are these questions worth asking? What, Mr. Caldwell, is the point? We'll get to that later. For now, we'll note that Caldwell has already found the difference. By the economic-damage measure, using his numbers, he's pointed out that Katrina was 20 times worse (other sources put the property cost of Katrina as high as $81 billion). And why omit other numbers, such as the death toll and the number of people permanently displaced? Katrina killed more than 1,800 people, displaced roughly 770,000 and destroyed about 300,000 homes. The recent wildfires killed  12 (we certainly do not mean to diminish their awful loss), temporarily disrupted the lives of half a million and destroyed less than 1,300 homes. No comparison.


First, the Superdome was surrounded by water, thanks to the levee breaks. Relief and supplies could not get to the evacuees. Qualcomm was nowhere near the burn areas and was easily accessible for anyone who wished to provide help. What Caldwell seems to be saying with his “civic culture” contrast is that the black people of New Orleans don't give a damn about their community or their neighbors while the white people of San Diego do.

In other words, New Orleans was full of toxic water, but you could still move around San Diego. Volunuteers and supplies could get to Qualcomm, that was not true of the SuperDome. Caldwell, of course, goes on to lay all the blame at the feet of Blanco and Nagin, very little was Bush's fault you see. And Arnold was just super on the ball! As CityBeat summed up:

You deserve better than this GOP-ass-kissing drivel.