'Slave Mentality'
Caused Katrina's Chaos

By Jim Moore
"What Hurricane Katrina exposed," writes Robert Tracinski, "was the psychological consequences of the welfare state; and the brutish, and uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages."
Fair enough. But permit me to take "the consequences of the welfare state" two thoughts further.
What caused the welfare state? I submit it was the slave mentality.
And what caused the slave mentality? We did.
Now don't jump to conclusions. And please don't translate this into simply a color issue. It may be that, but it is much more.
By the slave mentality I mean the emotional mind-set of some people, embedded generation after generation, that says: I am poor not rich, weak not strong, dependent not independent, helpless not self-sufficient, slave not master---and because of this plea: "I need help, I'm depending on you, I can't do this alone"---contrary to America's vision of freedom and independence--- becomes the mantra of servitude. As if noblesse oblige were a blessing instead of an insult.
As Merrill Jenkins reminds us, "in every nation in the history of the world, has it not always ended up war between the ruling class and the people? The king wants more and more and the people continually settle for less and less."
You don't have to read much history to know that strong, young, probably intelligent men in their own culture and country were chained, whipped, stuffed in the holds of slave ships, and brought to this country to be sold at auction into slavery.
In early America the slave mentality, sorry to say, was born, flourished, and remained so until the Emancipation Proclamation, which did two
diametrically opposed things: it gave slaves their freedom, but then pushed hundred of thousands of them-with their subservience intact-- out into an unfamiliar, hostile, uncaring world from which the slave mentality re-rooted itself and grew strong.
In analyzing the effects of Katrina, the words "project living" surfaced with the water. Being familiar with the south side of Chicago I am acquainted with the derogatory connotation of "project living", it being a bone of derision to us living on the north side.
Project living, in Chicago, was the same helpless, hopeless, crime-ridden, wretched lifestyle of the poor, mostly black, as it was in any big city---just as it apparently was in New Orleans. And to believe that years, even decades, of "freedom" could have an altering effect on the slave mentality is to misread the dynamics of social psychology. Or, as they say, which ever way the twig is bent, that way shall the child grow.
This is not to say that there aren't plenty of black people who are bright, talented, and successful. Neither is it to say that there aren't plenty of white people who are dense, indolent, and irresponsible.
The point being, the color of skin does not determine anyone's relevance on the social scale. What does? Family, mother and father, relatives, bringing up, what you were taught, and how well you were able to blend all that into an escape hatch from the slave mentality. That is, escape from dependence on government, escape from the "comfort" of poorness; escape from the rationale of past hurts and misfortunes; and escape from a subservient "I need" to an assertive "I have."
Yes, there have been, and are, programs in America designed to help the less fortunate achieve some degree of self-sufficiency and self-worth, but that value or no-value is a topic for another time.
Suffice it to say that in an admittedly cursory look at the ruthless treatment New Orleans got from Katrina, it appears that in a city of three million people 300,000 or so did not, or could not, evacuate the premises. That those people were the "poverty" population of the city was fairly apparent. And that that "poverty" population seemed to be helplessly waiting for "daddy" government to "rescue" them.
It may, on the face, sound harsh but Tracinski inadvertently pointed up a truth when he wrote "What we consider normal behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. Those people respond to disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them,"
And addressing the criminality in the slave mentality, Tracinski adds: "They don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow man."
But the bottom line has yet to be reached, and here it is: Ultimately, we, in our tragic and shameful long history of inhumanity to man; of our perverse penchant for servant/master relationships; and for our elitist attitude where the less fortunate of all kinds are concerned, have spawned the slave mentality.
And the stunning thing that Katrina has done, is give us a stark, unforgettable, accusatory picture of it.



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