Column: Let them eat cake

By Eric Naing

Marie Antoinette never actually said, “Let them eat cake” in response to criticism that her people had no bread to eat. Still, this urban legend has become synonymous with any situation where the rich and powerful dismiss the poor. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, prominent people in this country seem to be experiencing “let them eat cake” moments of their own.

Barbara Bush, the former first lady and living proof that we truly are descendants of apes, recently crawled out of her hobbit-hole to discuss hurricane relief efforts. As quoted by Editor & Publisher, Mrs. Bush muses, “What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this – this (slight chuckle) is working very well for them.”

Yes Mrs. Bush, things sure are going swimmingly for those hurricane victims. So what if they lost their homes, possessions and, in many cases, their families? Those people should count their blessings; they get to party it up in Houston with you and George Sr. Though hopefully they won’t stay for too long. Poor people tend to smell, and we wouldn’t want any of them getting near your multi-million dollar mansion.

Of course, the apple never falls very far from the tree – or, in this case, the nut from the bush. Barbara’s son, the current President Bush, recently said of his friend Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., “Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house – he’s lost his entire house – there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.” Bush then triumphantly stood on top of that rubble, one arm grasping a bullhorn and the other wrapped around a Lott-family housekeeper, and gave a weary nation hope that Trent Lott will indeed have a house again.

I actually would like to sit on that porch, too. Come to think of it, I can think of about a million displaced people who could also use a good sit on Trent Lott’s porch; whites only, though. Remember, Sen. Lott, like his buddy Strom Thurmond, has a little problem with black people.

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    House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, got in on the action, too. According to the Houston Chronicle blog, DeLay likened the plight of three young Katrina evacuees to being in camp while talking to them and asked, “Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?” DeLay then proceeded to take the boys’ candy when they weren’t looking and introduced House Bill 4167: Resolution to Steal Christmas 2005.

    DeLay wasn’t the only member of the house to chime in. According to the Washington Post, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said that rebuilding New Orleans doesn’t make sense and added, “It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed.” And, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Congressman Richard Baker, R-La., told lobbyists, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”

    Not only did God clean up public housing in New Orleans, but God also managed to kill a few thousand people in the process. But they were poor anyway, so who cares?

    Hurricane Katrina has shown us how utterly divorced from reality the rich and powerful in this country are when it comes to the poor. While people are huddled together in stadiums wondering if they will ever get their lives back, the elite sit in their mansions and laugh about how much “fun” this hurricane is. Since many of those in power don’t seem to care, it becomes our duty to donate, help out, or at least keep remembering those in need.

    Next time Barbara Bush is sitting on her solid gold toilet in her Houston mansion, I hope she takes the time to think about all the underprivileged people nearby at the Astrodome. They’re her neighbors now, and I’m sure they could use some cake.

    Eric Naing is a Senior in LAS. His column appears every Monday. He can be reached at [email protected].