We’re a few days out now and all’s back to normal. Temperatures are in the 40s and rising. But to those of you who laugh off the Snowpocalypse as just another Southern city being unprepared for bad weather, I say this: You weren’t there. YOU WEREN’T THERE. Actually, that’s just a joke. Had you been here you would’ve marveled at the massive traffic snarl and wondered at how poorly prepared we were. If you actually lived here you would’ve forgotten how to drive in winter (the Mason Dixon line seems to erase memories of winter driving; a fascinating phenomenon), and you’d know, in the deepest recesses of your heart, that someone had to pay. You’d probably set your sights on Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who despite being contrite and “accepting blame,” has not been quite as contrite as Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.
Reed, a large black Democrat, has also recently used his considerable intelligence to hurt the feelings of reporters. He has even, I’m told, gone so far as to give some reporters the vapors. He seems to feel that he is being unfairly put upon … because he is.
After watching eye-searing hours of local news and press conferences, I can guarantee that none or much, much less of this hullabaloo would be occurring were Kasim Reed Caucasian. Were he a white mayor we’d have a wrong place, wrong time, freak storm story on our hands. We wouldn’t have hit piece after hit piece from people who know better. I’m willing to forgive true Northerners like Jon Stewart, who seem simply unaware of the crushing inability of Georgia to deal with snow. I’m not willing to forgive people who know why this really happened. Life and national politics would be mind-bendingly easier for Kasim Reed were he white. But he isn’t, and maybe that’s a good thing. Reed, the man who is being criticized for using emergency lanes to get to press conferences while simultaneously being lambasted for his wanton unavailability to the press, is not, it saddens me to say, Batman.
As I noted before, perhaps it’s a good thing that Reed is black; it allows us to go down the rabbit hole of why this happened in the first place.
Georgia, y’know, the State that Deal’s in charge of, doesn’t take nearly the preventative measures that Northern states do. Also, everyone drives in and out of Atlanta. Reed is correct in noting that the population of the city roughly doubles during a working day.
The question is WHY does everyone drive along a maze of roads each morning? The answer is simple. MARTA, our awful, awful transit system, was supposed to extend across the various suburbs that comprise what most consider “Atlanta.” Instead, people voted down racial lines to keep African Americans out of the suburbs. We are a city without a finished transit system, and have been since the ’70’s. MARTA is great if you want to get from very specific points in Fulton County to the airport … but it’s pretty useless otherwise. There’s even a (previously) hit song with a chorus of “Bi*ch, You Ride the MARTA Bus.” That’s right: it’s considered an insult to tell someone they “Ride the MARTA Bus.” This is not double entendre. The performer is really referring to the fact that he has a car while the person he’s putting down must suffer the humiliation of using MARTA. I can’t recall anyone in Boston or New York insulting me for the sin of taking public transportation.
Kasim Reed is correct in his assessment that staggered evacuations from schools, businesses, etc. is the way to go next time. Lesson learned. But it should be noted that he worked around the clock to make sure every idiot who drove (carpooling is not a thing we do down here) had food and water, medical attention if necessary, and that children who had to stay at school overnight were well looked after.
Did Mayor Reed handle the situation pre-snow as well as possible? No. Did he do everything in his power post and during the Snowpocalypse, including working with the National Guard? Yes.
Charles Cullen is a writer in Atlanta, Ga., and a contributor to Bloggingwhileblue.com.
From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2014
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