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Rockaways, Katrina, Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza and the West Bank--Where Can I find some Blankets?

By Johnny Barber

Tuesday, November 6, 2012,  in Rockaway I was reminded of the aftermath of Katrina, the Rodney King riots and Iraq, Afghanistan, and particularly I was reminded of Gaza and the West Bank, where the 'aftermath' never comes, where just a continuous, unending calamity unfolds at the hands of America's 'democracy'.  

It was election day and  we drove past lines of hundreds of people waiting to vote. All that was missing was the blue ink to dip their fingers in and to hold up to the cameras with a smile.

We baked food to bring to hungry people who have been ignored and forgotten by our government.

Mostly they are poor people, many elderly people, many children.

We did not see a presence of the Red Cross, where millions of dollars have been deposited in the past week. And while we saw large numbers of cops and military convoys on the streets, we did not see them going door to door to help people who have been stranded without power for a week, many of whom can't escape the confines of their dark, cold homes. (This is not to say they are not doing great work somewhere, just in our little corner of destruction they were not to be found.)

One visiting nurse told us she has been trying for a week to get help bringing 100 elderly wheel chair bound people down dark stairwells in a 20 story complex. Finally, when it was just too obvious that no help would arrive, the visiting nurse organized other nurses and residents and they carried the people down themselves. Meanwhile hundreds of ambulances and medic crews are sitting in a staging area waiting for orders. They have traveled from many places to help, because that is what they do. People have traveled from around the country to help.

Can I hear a "good job Brownie" please?

I saw hundreds of ordinary citizens taking care of themselves and their neighbors as best they can. i have seen this in all the mayhem over all the years and disasters in the paragraph above. It is what keeps me alive in this world filled with so much ugliness and neglect.

Today, I hear Obama was reelected-- 4 more years of the same old thing. Over the last year of campaigning I have come to understand that Obama is proud of what he has done and what he has done in my name as an American and for this I feel ashamed. And I am scared of what will come.

Today snow, rain, and wind is coming. Many people in the Rockaways are in desperate need of blankets. The same is so in Afghanistan where babies froze to death in their mothers arms last winter.

There are natural weather events and there are disasters. We are living in a time of great disaster world wide which our government seems unable to heal and plays a great part in perpetuating.

The most common negative comment I hear about my writing is, "What happened to you? Why do you hate your country so much?" I can only say my government continues to fail those who depend on it the most here and around the world and this has always been so.

And I am wondering where I can find a couple of blankets.

About the Author:  Johnny Barber is a photographer who has traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza and the West Bank to document conditions in those places. He was a passenger on the US Boat to Gaza in the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. His blog is


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