[...] in the wake of the recent catastrophic flooding in Nashville--which did nearly $2 billion in damage, claimed around two dozen lives, destroyed thousands of homes and did incalculable harm to several iconic businesses and landmarks--there have been two distinct narratives developing, both locally in Middle Tennessee and on a national level. One of these is an uplifting one, which reflects well on the state of humanity. The other is crass, and inherently rooted in racial and class biases that should have no place in discussions of events such as these.
The first narrative is a justifiably proud one, issued since the flooding by Nashville residents and those with ties to our city. It is a narrative that revolves around the way in which, in the wake of tragedy, so many people have pulled together, volunteered to clear debris or to rebuild damaged structures, or just pitched in however they could to help their neighbors (or in many cases, people they don't even know). No doubt about it: these individuals demonstrate the decency of average, everyday people in moments of crisis.
But the second narrative, as articulated by far too many in the past two weeks, while it praises those local efforts, does so specifically by attempting to contrast the good and decent people of Nashville with the presumably undesirable and indecent folks in certain unnamed but easily identifiable other places, who have in recent years experienced massive flooding. In other words, the black and poor of New Orleans, inundated when the levees protecting their city gave way to flood waters generated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And so we have been subjected to claims by Nashville columnist David Climer (of the local daily, The Tennessean), that the reason the flooding here didn't receive enough media attention was because in order to get headlines, you have to "start looting." But, as Climer made sure to point out, in his May 9 essay, "We're better than that. Our city never lost control." Got that? We are good. They are bad. Praise us. Screw them.
Full article, which does a great job of dispelling the comfortably privilege-ridden misconceptions and deconstructing the arguments.