Steven Massie Mr. Bevier AP English Language AA/BB 1 September 2012 Corruption in New Orleans In Zeitoun written and published by Abdulrahman Zeitoun and Dave Eggers, the most powerful assertion made is that the government was corrupt during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. This allegation is unfortunately accurate. Many citizens were left stranded in their homes, while the government gave orders to arrest innocent men and women who were still in the city of New Orleans, which also lead to the establishment of many corrupt government programs.
To start, the author supports his statement by including information of citizens who were left hopeless at their homes. Some citizens waited on their rooftops, while others waited on their front porch. On Thursday September 1st, 2005 Abdulrahman Zeitoun paddled throughout the city determined to help save stranded citizens. He went house to house and reported to the National Guard where and who needed to be rescued. At his first encounter with a soldier, he was told he could not be helped. However, while talking to another soldier he was told everything would be taken care of and the citizens would be helped.
Unfortunately, help did not come to everyone. “Alvin and Beulah were still there, on the porch, bags still ready, a light rain still falling on them. They had been waiting for four hours” (Dave Eggers 137). This passage further proves only one example of citizens who received no help from the government, no rescue, and no safety. The corrupt government left many unsure if they were going to survive at all. Continuing forward, the author further demonstrates his point by including information of innocent citizens being arrested during the aftermath of the storm.
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The first time readers become aware of this is on Tuesday September, 6 on page 212. Zeitoun along with his friends living in the house on Claiborne are all arrested and driven to a terminal a few blocks from the Superdome. From there, they are told they are under arrest because they are ‘Al Qaeda’. However much the evidence may have pointed towards this being a correct statement, the men had committed no crime, had not been processed correctly, and had not been allowed to make a call. All evidence of the government being corrupt during this time.
Another example brought to reader’s attention is a man Abdulrahman Zeitoun meets at the Hunt Correctional Center. “He met a man who said he had been moving furniture in his house just after the storm hit. The police spotted him and broke in. When the protested his innocence they beat him up and left. A few days later, he came to the Greyhound Station to complain. They arrested him and sent him to Hunt” (Eggers 258). This ridiculous behavior during a time of crisis is unacceptable and shows how the government was corrupt.
Lastly, the author strongly supports his assertion by explaining the conditions he lived under at these corrupt government programs. The first place Zeitoun was held captive was the terminal close to the Superdome. Here, innocent men were pepper sprayed, and tortured in other various ways. They were given 1 steel rack, a concrete floor, and a negative amount of sympathy at best. “Zeitoun had been brought into the station on September 6, seven and a half days after the hurricane passed through the city.
Even under the best of circumstances, building a prison like this would have taken four or five days” (Eggers 226). This also tells the reader, that instead of spending their time saving citizens who needed them, they were building a jail to house innocent men. The reader continues forward, to find out poor food and medical help was provided, along with the absence of a phone call. Under United Stated laws, a person who is arrested is guaranteed one phone call, again proving the corruption of the government.
When one faces the facts provided in Zeitoun they have no choice but to agree that the government was corrupt during the aftershock of the storm. When citizens are left without help, took away for no reason, and held captive under terrible conditions, the reader is left with no choice but to be disappointed in the government. One might imagine that Zeitoun have lived in a third world country when all this had occurred, yet it happened right here in the United States of America.
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