The Corner

Subject: New Orleans Response


Dear Mr. Lowry:

Since the NO 2005 disaster is the worst since the SF 1906 earthquake the Virtual Museum of San Francisco timeline for the quake makes interesting reading. Response time 99 years ago was a bit brisker, our current technological superiority notwithstanding.

Note how the first Federal aid, sent on the authority of the senior officer present, arrived at City Hall less than 2 hours after the quake.

As for maintaining public order, Mayor Schmitz’s famous/infamous proclamation is hard to beat for coming to the point.

I agree that summary execution is not an option today — it’s permanent, irreversible, and liable to sweep up the innocent searching for food with the guilty harvesting consumer electronics. But ” . . . authorized by me to KILL any and all persons found engaged in looting . . .” does have the virtue of decisive clarity on the issue of public order.

Unfortunately, we live in an age of increased complexity: consultants, experts, lawyers etc. Ah for the good old days when Federal disaster response meant, “And tell the Major to muster his men and march them to City Hall immediately!

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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