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It was September 1, 2005, some three days after Hurricane Katrina crashed into New Orleans, and somebody had just blasted Herrington, who is African-American, with a shotgun. "I just hit the ground. I didn't even know what happened," recalls Herrington, a burly 32-year-old with a soft drawl.

The sudden eruption of gunfire horrified Herrington's companions--his cousin Marcel Alexander, then 17, and friend Chris Collins, then 18, who are also black. "I looked at Donnell and he had this big old hole in his neck," Alexander recalls. "I tried to help him up, and they started shooting again." Herrington says he was staggering to his feet when a second shotgun blast struck him from behind; the spray of lead pellets also caught Collins and Alexander. The buckshot peppered Alexander's back, arm and buttocks.

Herrington shouted at the other men to run and turned to face his attackers: three armed white males. Herrington says he hadn't even seen the men or their weapons before the shooting began. As Alexander and Collins fled, Herrington ran in the opposite direction, his hand pressed to the bleeding wound on his throat. Behind him, he says, the gunmen yelled, "Get him! Get that nigger!"
What is it Thompson, and the piece's editors at The Nation, refuse to say? Simply that, according to at least two respected forensic engineering reports (here and here), ultimately confirmed by a semi-confession from the involved agency, the flooding of New Orleans was caused by a series of design and construction flaws, stretching back over decades, in the supposed Hurricane Protection System overseen, in all details, by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people drowned and otherwise perished in the flooding, white, black, rich, poor. Did The Nation ever do an eighteen-month investigation to find out why such a system, mandated by the Congress to protect New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Betsy, went so terribly, catastrophically wrong?

Or, like the mainstream media, did it content itself with a crime story that used the Katrina disaster merely as a fulcrum?

I write a post this long, and this harsh, because New Orleans has enough problems, self-inflicted and otherwise, without a respected national magazine asserting that the city had or has a race war. There are racists aplenty in New Orleans, white and black. Yet, after two decades of knowing the city pretty damn well, I'd venture to say that day-to-day living in New Orleans involves more casual, easy, frequent interactions between people of all backgrounds and colors than I see, say, in LA, NY, or DC. Flood 80% of any of those cities, flood the airwaves (local and national) with fearful rumors -- after those same airwaves have been gleefully saturated with grotesque images of rappers glorifying thuggery -- and see what latent emotions come to the surface.

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