It's hard to think of the imagery of the past week - the rising flood waters, the drowning victims, the separated families, the evacuees stuffed into and later even locked into domed holding pens and left to fend for themselves in the ensuing chaos - without thinking of the Titanic:
One must remember that the Titanic represented a microcosm of what was taking place in society. The poor, the lower classes, were shut out from the advantages that the rest of society enjoyed. If you were graced with wealth, along with that came the "right of privilege." The right to advance oneself, to enjoy what society had to offer-wealth, a fine home, a prosperous career and all the better things that came with this privilege. Many in the upper classes felt that this grace of privilege came from God Himself. A predestined privilege that should not be squandered, but also should be utilized to the fullest extent to create a heaven here on earth for themselves. The remaining populous (lower classes) were either lazy or savages and God in His time would send his wrath upon them. Thus explaining away the disease, famine and blight suffered by the lower classes.
While the evidence proved that there were no plans or conspiracy to keep Third Class passengers below there was a great deal of ineptitude on behalf of the crew when it came to dealing with the Third Class and how they were going to ascend to the upper decks. Most employees of White Star that worked in third class spoke only English. That was fine for the Irish and other English speaking passengers. However, also aboard were Swedes, Finns, Poles and other East European people. Many came from France, Spain, the Middle East and even Asia as well. White Star employees were ill equipped to deal with these non-English speaking passengers. Needless to say, those passengers who did not speak English were left to fend for themselves as the ship started to sink. All the signs and passenger books were in English which added to the confusion for those third class passengers.
Another major problem for the third class was the lack of or the non-existence of communication from the Bridge. Titanic while a modern wonder did not have a public address system or phones throughout the ship. The crew in third class were expected to fend for themselves. No lifeboat drill had been given to them ( It was supposed to have taken place that day, but Captain Smith chose not to have one as he felt that this would interfere with Sunday church services for the First Class.) they were not prepared for this type of emergency.
Needless to say confusion reigned. Some gates were open to the upper decks and others were not. Even if they did get to the next deck they weren't assured of getting through to the next passage. Some passengers were sent back by White Star employees to the last area they had just left. Some crew members allowed only the women and children through while at other areas no one was admitted. Some staunch, by-the-book White Star crew members were waiting for directions from the Bridge before allowing third class passengers admittance to the upper dekcs. (sic) It never came.
The orders, if they came at all, were sent down to the lower decks after most of the lifeboats with less than capacity had left. By that time and the fate of these people were sealed. They were basically left to shift for themselves. Some managed to save themselves, but most just milled around helplessly about in their quarters-ignored, neglected, forgotten.
And, as in New Orleans, once disaster hit, and then BushCo failed to respond in a timely manner resulting in chaos, the guns came out:
“As the excitement began I saw an officer of the Titanic shoot down two steerage passengers who were endeavoring to rush the lifeboats. I have learned since that twelve of the steerage passengers were shot altogether, one officer shooting down six. The first-cabin men and women behaved with great heroism.”
I think we can imagine what would have happened if the Titanic stayed afloat and without help for a week as it sank. Indeed, the Gulf Coast just lived through it. And what happened on that ship wasn't rooted in race. It was rooted in class.
Of course, we know that when votes are at stake, BushCo can pull out all stops and make the government work - for him. But we have no way of knowing if BushCo's response to a disaster of this magnitude would have been as criminally non-responsive if, for instance, the flood happened in a predominantly poor, white region of the country. I have a feeling it would have been, not because race doesn't matter, but because I think that class matters more.
Luckily for the first class passengers on board the Titanic, the ship sank before the bullets ran out and the gates didn't break. It's up to us to make sure metaphorically that doesn't happen this time.
NB: I don't support political violence.
Related: I found this comment on a page devoted to the food on the Titanic. Remind you of anyone we know?
Although the choice of food may look bleak and almost unappetizing compared to the fare on offer in the First and Second Class, for many steerage passengers the food was much better than what they had been used to at home, so there was no need to improve the quality any more.