Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The Greyhound Station Gulag
FEMA camp survivor: Businessman Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Syria, stands outside the New Orleans Greyhound station that was converted into an open-air detention center following Katrina. Zeitoun was imprisoned under FEMA jurisdiction after being arrested for "trespassing" on his own property.
New Orleans resident Abdulrahman Zeitoun was with three friends in the living room when the looters came. Like most of the armed criminal gangs afflicting the city in Katrina's wake, the marauders who confronted Mr. Zeitoun wore government-issued costumes.
Before the day's end, the Syrian-born U.S. citizen -- who had spent days paddling through the flooded streets in a canoe, rendering what aid he could to people trapped in their ruined homes -- would be confined in a makeshift detention camp modeled after the notorious facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
No formal criminal charges were filed against Zeitoun. When he protested the denial of his due process rights and rudimentary decencies of living, he was told by the guards that he was under the jurisdiction of FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) -- which meant that he was somebody else's problem.
If it hadn't been for an encounter with a Christian missionary ministering to the prisoners -- a man Zeitoun believes was sent in literal answer to prayer -- it's likely that he and at least one of his friends, a fellow Syrian-American, would still be prisoners of the Department of Homeland Security.
Zeitoun was raised in the Syrian coastal town Jableh as part of a financially successful and well-regarded family. After migrating to New Orleans, Zeitoun found work with a local building contractor. Blessed with a strong work ethic and uncanny entrepreneurial instinct, he created a small house-painting business that quickly grew to include ownership of several rental properties -- including the house from which he was kidnapped under the color of government "authority" the morning of September 6, 2005.
Just before Katrina hit the city, Zeitoun sent his wife Kathy and their four children to stay with friends in Houston. He remained behind to safeguard the house, look after the rental properties, and help wherever he could. On several occasions while he was rendering aid to stranded neighbors, Zeitoun encountered patrol craft carrying police or military personnel, who were too busy maintaining an intimidating facade to lend assistance.
Prior to his arrest, the only direct contact Zeitoun had with "authority" came in the form of a visit by "rescue" personnel in a government helicopter. At the time, Zeitoun was setting up his tent in the back yard of his home.
After several attempts by the weary Good Samaritan to communicate that he was fine and intended to stay, "one of the men in the helicopter decided to drop a box of water down to him," recounts Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Eggers in his book Zeitoun. He tried to wave them off again, "to no avail. The box came down, and Zeitoun leapt out of the way before it knocked the tent flat and sent plastic bottles everywhere." The government employees, having "helped" the resident by demolishing his shelter, flew away to impart similar assistance elsewhere.
While Zeitoun was helping his neighbors, the police -- including the officers who would materialize in his living room to arrest him on suspicion of "looting" -- were helping themselves to whatever they wanted.
New Orleans Police Officer Donald Lima, who was part of the team that arrested Zeitoun, spent much of his time as a government-licensed looter and swapping the plundered property with National Guard units.
"In exchange for gasoline, Lima and other New Orleans police officers broke into convenience stores and took cigarettes and chewing tobacco," recalls Eggers. "A majority of the National Guardsmen, Lima said, chewed tobacco and smoked Marlboros, so this arrangement kept both sides well supplied. Lima considered the looting a necessary part of the mission." The gasoline was needed for official business, he maintained, as well as "to power his home generators."
When Guardsmen couldn't provide him with gas, "Lima siphoned fuel from cars and trucks. His throat was sore from all the gas-siphoning he did after the storm, he said."
Ralph Gonzalez, an officer from Albuquerque, New Mexico, also took part in Zeitoun's arrest. He was among the out-of-state officers who arrived five days after the storm. "We thought we were in a third-world country," he told Eggers, which is why he and his fellow cops spent most nights cowering in a secure location while the people they were supposedly serving and protecting were being preyed on by armed criminals.
Lima and Gonzalez were two of the six uniformed heroes who eagerly stormed into Zeitoun's property on September 6, arresting the businessman and three friends on suspicion of looting (that is, stealing without official permission) and dealing drugs.
When identification was demanded, Zeitoun complied, but the soldier who issued the demand didn't deign to look at the card. The invaders -- five men and a female National Guard officer -- didn't collect evidence or secure the "crime scene." The four civilians were marched out to a motorboat that conveyed them through flooded streets to an intersection that provided a patch of high ground. Once there, they were surrounded by a phalanx of armed men in body armor.
As two armed thugs performed the familiar profane recital ("Stay there, motherf****r!" "Don't move, a*****e!"), Zeitoun was thrown face-down in the stygian mud and his hands were zip-tied behind his back. A few minutes later he found himself being processed into a makeshift military detention facility at the local Greyhound station.
Insta-gulags -- coming soon to a town near you? The continental United States, as divided into FEMA districts. Just something to think about.
"Camp Greyhound" was described by USA Today as an "outpost of law and order" amid the entropic violence of post-Katrina New Orleans. A more suitable description would be "Gitmo North."
Camp Greyhound, which at one point held 1,200 prisoners, "looked precisely like the pictures ... of Guantanamo Bay," writes Eggers. "Like that complex, it was a vast grid of chain-link fencing with few walls, so the prisoners were visible to the guards and each other. Like Guantanamo, it was outdoors, and there appeared to be nowhere to sit or sleep. There were simply cages and the pavement beneath them."
After being stripped and subjected to a body cavity search, Zeitoun was detained with his friends in one of the facility's "pods." For the next three days and nights, "the pavement would be their bed, their open-air toilet would be their bathroom, and the steel rack would be the seat they could share," continues Eggers.
As Americans of Arab ancestry, Zeitoun and his friend Nasser Dayoob received particular attention from their captors, who insisted: "You guys are al-Qaeda."
In addition to being denied blankets or even a decent sleeping surface, the prisoners -- who included Todd Gambino, one of Zeitoun's tenants, and a man named Ronnie who had sought shelter after the flood -- were bathed in the blinding glare of a floodlight after nightfall.
After the first sleepless night, another prisoner was introduced into the mix, an oddly jovial guy called Jerry. Curiously, Jerry focused most of his attention on Zeitoun and Nasser, and seemed strangely eager to solicit negative opinions about the Bush administration, U.S. foreign policy, and the military.
One didn't have to look for potting soil caked between his toes in order to recognize that Jerry was a plant.
For Zeitoun and the other prisoners, the Camp Greyhound experience was one of constant tedium occasionally leavened with torment. In time-honored fashion, the guards exploited any excuse to inflict exemplary "discipline" on the detainees, most of whom had been arrested for violating curfew or similar petty matters.
"Always the procedure was the same," narrates Eggers, "a prisoner would be removed from his cage and dragged to the ground nearby, in full view of the rest of the prisoners. His hands and feet would be tied, and then, sometimes with a guard's knee on his back, he would be sprayed directly in the face" with pepper spray. "If the prisoner protested," continues Eggers, "the knee would dig deeper into his back. The spraying would continue until his spirit was broken. Then he would be doused with [a] bucket and returned to his cage."
These ritual acts of sadism, Eggers observes, were "born of a combination of opportunity, cruelty, ambivalence, and sport." They were intended to torment the other prisoners, most of whom -- like Zeitoun -- were made nauseous with suppressed rage by the spectacle of helpless men being tortured.
The victims included one disturbed man with the intellectual and emotional capacity of a child who was "punished" because he displayed the irrepressible symptoms of mental illness.
"Under any normal circumstances [Zeitoun] would have leapt to the defense of a man victimized as that man had been," observes Eggers. "But that he had to watch, helpless, knowing how depraved it was -- this was punishment for the others, too. It diminished the humanity of them all."
After three days in the Greyhound station gulag, Zeitoun and his friends were transferred to the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center. (Jerry, of course, wasn't with them.) Following another strip-search, Zeitoun and Nasser -- the two Syrian-Americans -- were separated from the other innocent prisoners and confined in a maximum security cell.
For more than two weeks they would be abused, neglected, humiliated, insulted and subjected to a visit from a Gitmo-style "Extreme Repression Force" (ERP). Clad in black riot gear, wielding ballistic shields, batons, and other weapons, the ERP "burst in as if [Zeitoun] were in the process of committing murder," writes Eggers. "Cursing at him, three men used their shields to push him to the wall. As they pressed his face against the cinderblock, they cuffed his arms and shackled his legs."
After heroically subduing an unresisting man -- who by this time was dealing with an infected foot and a mysterious kidney ailment -- the ERP tore apart the cell before forcing the victim to strip and submit to another body cavity search.
While Zeitoun was suffering in Louisiana, his wife and children in Texas were convinced he was dead. He had never been permitted to contact his wife following his arrest, and Kathy wasn't able to find any trace of him. Before Katrina hit, the two of them would occasionally speak about the potentially dire consequences for an Arab-American who found himself in police custody. They were aware of many instances in which "a Muslim came to be suspected by the U.S. government, and, under the president's current powers, U.S. agents were allowed to seize the man from anywhere in the world and bring him anywhere in the world, without ever having to charge him with a crime."
"How different was Zeitoun's current situation?" Eggers reflects. "He was being held without contact, charges, bail, or trial.... Zeitoun did not entertain such thoughts lightly. They went against everything he knew and believed about his adopted country. But then again, he knew the stories. Professors, doctors, and engineers had all been seized and disappeared for months and years in the interest of national security. Why not a house painter?"
On September 19, Kathy's cell phone rang.
"Is this Mrs. Zeitoun?" asked an unfamiliar male voice, mis-pronouncing the last name.
"Yes," Kathy replied in a voice tremulous with dread.
"I saw your husband," the voice informed her. "He's okay. He's in prison. I'm a missionary. I was in Hunt, the prison up in St. Gabriel. He's there. He gave me your number."
When Kathy began to barrage him with questions, the missionary hastily explained: "Look, I can't talk to you any more. I could get in trouble. He's okay, he's in there. That's it. I've got to go."
Deprived of any source of hope except for prayer, Zeitoun had pleaded with God to send a messenger. Shortly thereafter a middle-aged black man visited his cell -- a missionary who was distributing Bibles and praying with the inmates. At no small risk to himself -- remember, we live in an era when defense attorneys who pass along notes from terrorist suspects can be sent to prison themselves -- this man of God honored Zeitoun's request to contact his wife and family.
An American family: Abdulrahman Zeitoun with his wife Kathy and four daughters. Although he can't understand why the girls insist on watching "Pride and Prejudice" several times a week, Zeitoun is just happy to be home.
Ten more days would pass before Kathy succeeded in freeing her ailing husband. After dashing back to New Orleans, she contacted the court to learn where Zeitoun's pre-trial hearings would take place.
"Oh, we can't tell you that," sniffed the functionary on the other end of the phone. "That's privileged information."
"Privileged for who? I'm his wife!" exclaimed Kathy.
"I'm sorry, that's private information," replied the drone.
"It's not private! It's public!" Kathy insisted. "That's the point! It's a public court!"
Zeitoun's courtroom experience followed the same Kafka-inspired script. Charged with "looting" his own house, Zeitoun was given $75,000 bail -- but denied a phone call to arrange for someone to bail him out.
Eventually, with the help of an attorney and a CNN producer, Kathy was able to contact her husband and post bail. His friends weren't as fortunate: Nasser, Todd, and Ronnie were imprisoned for five, six, and eight months, respectively, before the charges against them were dropped.
Once he was free, Zeitoun's health improved immediately. The experience left Kathy with lingering stroke-like symptoms, including a sudden, transitory inability to understand what people say to her. When they visited the house in which Zeitoun was "arrested," they discovered that actually looters -- most likely including uniformed thugs like the ones who kidnapped him -- had stripped the place bare.
While Zeitoun and his friends, along with scores of other perfectly innocent people, were detained on spurious charges, the "forces of order" were running amok in the flood-devastated city.
Dozens of New Orleans's, ahem, finest fled the city. Those who remained made life considerably worse for the productive people who stayed behind. On September 4, New Orleans police officers gunned down refugees trying to flee the city by way of the Danziger Bridge; they then conspired to cover up that atrocity. Armed parties like the one that kidnapped Zeitoun and his friends invaded homes and confiscated firearms from innocent citizens.
In his History of the French Revolution, Thomas Carlyle maintained that human society exists atop a roiling mass of lava that can erupt and destroy everything in its path once the brittle crust of civilization is breached. Those breaches are usually the result of state action. Occasionally -- as was the case in post-Katrina New Orleans -- the state exploits a rupture resulting from a natural catastrophe.
At the slightest excuse those who presume to rule us will treat us exactly as Abdulrahman Zeitoun was treated. Before being kidnapped and imprisoned by the government, Zeitoun never suspected that a potential gulag was lurking inside the local Greyhound station. He sees the world much differently now, as should we all.
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Dum spiro, pugno!
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That's sure to make all those law & order types real proud.
I'm sure Mr. Zeitoun rues the day he ever decided to immigrate to Amerika. For the life of me I can't understand why ANYONE would view this country today as the Promised Land or the Land of Freedom and Opportunity. Syria couldn't POSSIBLY have been any worse!
Mr. Zeitoun’s and his friends’ treatment under color of “authority” is exactly the thing that most Americans will tell you, ”That can’t happen here.” The government of the United States of America has been responsible for untold numbers of deaths, false imprisonments, and other abuses, yet the average man on the street will invariably say, “That can’t happen here.”
Lincoln’s treatment of thousand of dissenters during the War for Southern Independence, Wounded Knee, Waco, Ruby Ridge, Japanese and Italian American concentration camps during WW-II, the Trail of Tears, the Oklahoma land rush, the San Angelo, Texas, Mormons … those are examples I can think of just off the top of my head.
“But our government loves us.” “Those people must have done something illegal, otherwise the police wouldn’t have bothered them.” “That can’t happen in the United States, we have the Constitution to protect us.”
The government doesn’t love you. You only exist to pay taxes and vote. You don’t have to do anything illegal to be imprisoned or killed. You just need to be associated with the “wrong” people or refuse to chip the corners off your square peg in order to fit the government’s round hole. You no longer own property, you merely rent it (pay taxes) from government. You no longer own even your own life or the products of your labor. If you cannot afford private schools or cannot home school your children and have turned them over to public education, you no longer have children or control over them. On top of all that, there are damn few legislators who give a fat rat’s behind about the Constitution and have no compunctions about saying so.
But, you say, “That can’t happen in the United States.”
No? It already has happened.
liberranter, there is a section in Eggers's book describing a family trip to Syria, and the surprise Kathy Zeitoun experienced upon learning that -- who'da thunk it? -- that country is really not the dismal totalitarian hellhole of neo-con propaganda. Sure, it's ruled by a loathsome government, but what country isn't?
Ironically, I just learned that an acquaintance of mine, Bryan Fischer (now with the American Family Association) has demanded that all Muslims who don't convert to Christianity (as he understands it) be forcibly repatriated to their home countries because they're not "true Americans" and don't appreciate the "freedoms" we enjoy here. Heh.
Man I read your articles an I become severely depressed. Why am I still in this country I ask myself. Why stay?
Exactly! As one who has lived and traveled extensively throughout the Arab East (though not Syria), I can state without hesitation that the U.S. government's characterization of these nations and their governments is pure, unadulterated propaganda!
Not at all surprisingly, it is Amoricons who have never set foot outside their nation's borders who parrot this mindless drivel the loudest and most frequently. I also do not doubt for a second that someone from the AFA would demand that Arabs/Muslims (to Boobus Americanus's pea brain they're one and the same) be forced to convert to the Great National Religion or face deportation or worse. (Note that I did not say "Christianity", which has nothing to do with the "religion" endorsed by the likes of the AFA, its ideological sister organizations, or most of Amerika's "churches.")
Anon 2:47, you ask "why stay" in Amerika? That's a good question, one that I ask myself all the time. While each of us must answer that question in our own way and base our decision to stay or leave on our own goals, values, and belief systems, my own answer is this: Because it's MY country and I am NOT going to let those f***ing criminal bastards destroy it! Much as one half of me wants to pack a BOB* and get the hell out of Dodge at the first opportunity, my more rational (?) and principled half tells me that 1) running away will solve nothing, 2) beautiful as the rest of the world's nations are, they simply don't have the traditions and historically ingrained institutions based on freedom that America traditionally has had, and 3)last, but not least, it would be a crime to be one of Edmund Burke's "good men who do nothing."
Just my two piasters worth...
(* BOB= "Bug-Out Bag")
Yet another excellent expose of the dark underbelly of the State. Reading that bit about people getting shot in New Orleans (something that I've not heard about until today) and I'm reminded about whats been happening lately overseas. Just cruise over to Yahoo news and read the comments about the WikiLeaks video related to the gunning down of people in Iraq and you'd swear the people vomiting forth comments such as, "Good kill... Clean kill... Within the rules of engagement... Leakers are traitors.." ad-nauseum and you'd swear you could hear goose-stepping sturmtruppen and a military brass band right outside your front door! These "Americans" scare the bejeeesus out of me. And coming from a family that has lived in Germany, and experienced the war first hand, I can tell you that I don't recall ever hearing them boast about putting people into the grave like these bloodthirsty bastards. Do I want to leave this country? Hell yes! I have kids that I want to keep out of Uncle Sammy's bloody clutches and that's damn well good enough for me.
Oh, by the way, a Christian author that I met years ago, and in whom I have the greatest respect, told me that while visiting in the Middle East it was the Muslims who treated him with the greatest of kindnesses. The tales he could tell. And maybe he is unique, though I think not, but the point being is that people are being demonized in the most un-Christlike manner by the very ones who claim to be the Churches "shepherds". And that clearly is a lie!
The Greyhound Station Gulag... That is pure crazy. I'm not sure I can see the world or bus terminals quite the same again. It's as if the bad characters Bruce Dern played in the movies were in charge at every level.
I didn't know.
And as far as that comment one person had about packing a B.O.B.
You're already supposed to have your B.O.B. packed.
For more on B.O.B.'s and Katrina this website/book written by a guy who was there is worthwhile:
I just sent the link to this to my County Sheriff. Been educating him since we got him elected last November.
Great article Will....more examples of why it is foolish to entrust one's safety, security, or well-being to State. Katrina was full of these types of tragic examples.
It's telling that, of the many examples Katrina gave us of both the best and worst that humankind has to offer, the very worst came from the government.
For those that have not read it, Lew Rockwell has an excellent chapter titled The State and The Flood on this topic in his book The Left, The Right, and The State.
And about leaving the country, there isn't really anywhere else to go. For example, I live in Canada - therefore my bug out bag could not include firearms.
Has no one read "Gulag Archipelago"?
Tyranny cannot triumph if all citizens resist with brutal, fearless and total violence. The groups of thugs must be demoralized by losing members every time they go out on a mission. Fight and perhaps die (perhaps survive) or be killed in a gulag. We need to all get on the same mindset. Like in boot camp..slam your fist and scream "KILL". Die as a warrior, or die as a prisoner.
Resistance is imperative. There are options between abject submission and desperate violence, however.
One approach -- which I've written about before, with highly qualified optimism -- is described here:
Great piece, Will. Yet more confirmation of what the reality of Amerika is, as if we (here) really needed it.
Contemporary Amerika isn't, and hasn't been for some time, the America of yore that Mr. Zeitoun must have assumed when he emigrated from his native Syria and decided to immigrate to Amerika. Yes, the government is always a problem anywhere to some extent and has been throughout the ages, but it becomes a MUCH more hellish problem in a country founded initially on the basis of self-government when its people by and large can no longer self-govern for whatever reason(s).
I guess America's founding fathers were horribly mistaken in believing that the lowly commoners could remain morally astute enough, vigilant enough - thereby retaining the ability to self-govern adequately to sufficiently contain government overreach. Obviously, in hindsight, they were proven dead wrong.
The aggregate character of the populace has sunk to a level of decay today that I think many if not most Amis, especially the younger set, would be shamelessly content living and slaving in a damned gulag if their only "freedoms" consisted of imbibing, copulating, smoking grass, and perhaps - as a "bonus liberty" - being allowed to watch state-sanctioned triple-D (depraved, debauched drama) flicks on the idiot box. Hell, they'd think that heaven (no pun intended).
Let's face it and not kid ourselves, the commoners are not aghast and repelled by Leviathan's regulations and/or prohibitions in general and abstractly, but rather only with its regulations and/or prohibitions of mind-altering substances and vices. They aren't having conniption fits about tobacco restrictions, after all, but reefer is another story. They generally oppose taxes, yet on the other hand the majority are heavily dependent on Leviathan's generosity with other folks' bread.
The bottom line is that they don't give a rat's derriere about genuine freedom.
Heck, even in an otherwise bona fide totalitarian state (NK being a possible exception), folk generally have the "freedom" to pursue self-gratification, the corruption of the mind and body in myriad ways, thus making them easily malleable pawns for the state's ends.
In my mind, anyway, death would be truly liberating in such an environment.
Folk may screech "Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom!" loudly and frequently, ad nauseam, but I really believe most do not mean true [properly bridled by self-control] freedom (to associate (or to not associate) with whom one wills; to worship (or to not worship) as ones conscience dictates; to speak, write as one wills; to possess arms if/when one wills, so forth and so on.
Welcome to the modern sissified, stupified, sanctimonious, heavily dependent, increasingly effeminate, and thoroughly statist Amerika, Mr. Zeitoun. You've already experienced your baptism of fire while most of the natives are oblivious and still awaiting theirs, ironically. But alas, don't be dismayed, we natives in the aggregate will receive our whirlwind comeuppance soon enough.
It's gettin' to the point where those harboring an unshakable, absolute concept of right, wrong, good, evil must eventually draw a line in the sand signaling what they'll accept or reject, regardless of the contemporary state mandate in force at the moment and, likewise, thus face the attendant consequences.
Thanks for another piece of real investigative journalism, which is so rare these days. Keep up the great work. There doesn't seem to be a shortage of material to work with, unfortunately.
Great article, Mr. Grigg.
This may be a little OT but I feel I have to address a few things. In light of the despicable way in which the neocons insist that we must go to war with virtually every Muslim country, it's tempting to let the pendulum swing to the other extreme and start to see Islam as goodness and light. This is a mistake. Remember that Rifqa Bary still lives under the threat of honor killing from her own father, that Nadal Hasan shouted praises to the Muslim god before he opened fire, and that Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard must live in a fortress for the great sin of drawing a cartoon of Mohammed. And remember that George Bush himself insists Islam is a religion of peace.
Yes, there are Muslims who treat everyone they encounter with respect. There are also Muslims who demand the head of any who "insults" Islam. (I have myself spent some time in the Middle East and can think of very few positive things to say about it. Syria might not be a nightmare country, but Saudi certainly is.) And a fundamental part of Islam is the implementation of Shariah law, which is itself at odds with all the notions of liberty espoused in this blog.
When it comes to contempt for this government and George Bush, I bow to no one. But I also know that the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. The fact that Mr. Zeitoun was treated in such a despicable manner does not change the fact that Islam properly understood is just as antithetical to the American way of life as the criminal state is.
Man tasered ten times during traffic stop
What govt does best was on display after Katrina. Too bad most will not see it for what it is: tyranny.
The LA legislature passed a law after Katrina that LA citizens COULD NOT BE DISARMED in a catastrophe as a result of the actions of many after Katrina. There are no exceptions. "Law officer" or citizen, in LA during a catastrophe, can be dealt with forcibly with no consequence in the event of an attempted disarmament.
In the end, govt is an entity with the monopoly on force and to allow unbridled power to such an entity is sheer ignorance or overt lunacy. This is why we have what we have today. We have allowed the unbridled growth of the state, never bothering again to check on how this force is employed.
The silver lining: no matter how powerful and cunning the practitioners, tyranny always comes crashing down. The chinks are appearing in the armor of leviathan.
Van Wijk said... raised a very good point. That it is too easy to paint idiotic and murderous idiots with too broad a brush. It's all too easy to do and even I have caught myself, out of frustration, doing likewise. Still, the ones shouting the loudest, from the biggest pulpits, whether political or religious, are the ones doing the damage. The good folk are usually the quiet ones who go about their business guided by an inner compass that doesn't shout from the roof tops.
I just sent the link to this to my County Sheriff. Been educating him since we got him elected last November.
Yes, there are Muslims who treat everyone they encounter with respect. There are also Muslims who demand the head of any who "insults" Islam.
Van Wijk, that statement clearly describes many, MANY "Christians" in this country (just substitute "Christian" and "Christianity" for "Muslim" and "Islam"). That being the case, would it be fair to say that "there are very few positive things to say about" Christianity? Painting a people or a religion with a broad brush of negativity just because certain among their number behave violently or irresponsibly in a manner 180 degrees out from the tenets of their faith sets a dangerous precedent. Should all Christians be judged on the basis of the words and deeds of people like Fred Phelps or John Hagee? Or, to cite even less extreme examples, should we allow Christianity to be defined by the often racist, insular, and hate-filled attitudes displayed in all-white "mainstream" church congregations on Sunday mornings in all-white, rural Southern towns or in all-black AME churches in America's inner cities? What's sauce for the goose...
Kirk, I wasn't aware that the Louisiana state legislature, probably for the first time in its corrupt and miserable history, did the right thing and passed legislation prohibiting the disarming of its citizens during "emergency" conditions. Let us hope that the other 49 states follow suit. We can only hope that FEDERAL viruses (i.e., FEMA and the federalized "national guard") that appear during these situations like buboes during a plague outbreak will respect such state laws, but I'm not counting on it.
I have ordered the book. It appears that some have accused the writer of exaggeration, or that Zeitoun isn't telling the truth.
Inteestingly, he hasn't filed any federal lawsuits in the matter. I wonder whether there is any way to confirm his claims from other sources?
None of what is claimed would surprise me, but we'll face a lot of scepticism if we try to promote the incident without corroboration.
John Pittman Hey
Mr. Zeitoun has filed a lawsuit. From page 311 of Eggers's book:
"Kath and Zeitoun had no intention of suing anyone over his arrest. They wanted it past. But friends and relatives fanned their outrage, and convinced them that those responsible needed to be held accountable. So they hired a lawyer, Louis Koerner, to pursue a civil suit against the city, the state, the prisons, the police department, and a half-dozen other agencies and individuals. They named everyone they could think of.... They were told by everyone who knew anything about the New Orleans courts to get in line. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cases against the city, the federal government, FEMA, police officers, the Army Corps of Engineers. Three years after the storm, few of the lawsuits had gone anywhere."
Incidentally, Eggers is donating his earnings to a non-profit civil rights foundation started by the Zeitoun family.
Perhaps I should add, a B.O.B. is not just for "leaving the country" as the stereotype might imply, the same with an E.D.C. bag (Every Day Carry) they are useful if you wind up in a camp similar to the Grey Hound camp, one for "willing refugees" and B.O.B.'s are perhaps a lifesaver to grab on the way out the door if something like a fire broke out, or CPS were on their way.
If this blog entry, and the Katrina website above didn't convince you, and websites like Ferfal don't sway you, I don't know what to say.
If you cannot have a firearm in your B.O.B. or EDC, for whatever tyrannical-like reasoning, having a knife is better than having a gun in some situations, say, less than 20 yards, at that distance a person with a knife has the edge over a criminal with a gun unless it's pointed directly at them. Or so say the experts.
Or a machete is good too, and if anyone needs any weeding done you can make them happy and get a workout at the same time. It might even be useful for when wild animals attack, like what Ted Nugent wrote a short article about. Hacking an attacking alligator-cougar with a machete would be some feat.
Another thing a person might have in a B.O.B. or EDC bag is a two-way radio. When the cell phones don't work, "Some cops are heading this way" would give a loved one a clue as to where you disappeared to? Maybe? Some things to think about, that's for sure.
AS Chris Floyd wrote just the other day...
"And thus you become one of those people that we all used to puzzle over, the accomodationists to brutal tyranny: "How did all those people go along with the Nazis? Why wasn't there more opposition to Stalin? How could they countenance all those obvious abominations? What kind of people were they?"
Now you know. They were you. You are them."
Unless and until people start paying heed to some of the stuff that Jefferson wrote (I am thinking here about the tree of liberty being refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants), and making scum like these thug-drones pay, NOTHING WILL CHANGE.
As an ardent advicate of Jim Bell's "Assassination Politics" (dumb name, great idea) I think that more folks ought to join freenet and find the betting pools.
Note that Bell's market does not necessarily require that the bet be about when a thug-drone loses his life - loss of the use of a hand or eye would concentrate their attention (and that of their colleagues) adequately.
Sic Semper Tyrannis.
OK, it must be in state court then, because there's nothing on the federal docket. Seems like his case would have ended up in federal court if he named even one federal defendant.
John Pittman Hey
For the cops involved: Fair trial, public execution. For the National Guardsmen involved: Article 32 to Article 37 to public execution. Some stretched necks would be most instructive. Let's see if Governor Jindal has a pair adequate to the task of holding uniformed terrorists accountable for their actions.
Resist! Compliance is futile!
This is a case in point why We the People should be armed to the teeth. To protect ourselves from criminals, be they the garden variety crooks or the criminals that hide behind badges.
And I do *NOT* mean get a gun permit and register your gun. I mean you have the *RIGHT* to keep and bear arms *WITHOUT* anybody's permission.
Then, in case of the next disaster, if you stay home, bolt your door, put a warning sign on it, don't answer it, then if someone breaks in and won't leave on your command, BLOOEY!
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