Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's not a misfortune, it's an injustice

 In the opening of The Faces of Injustice, Judith N. Shklar offers:

When is a disaster a misfortune and when is it an injustice? . . . If the dreadful event is caused by the external forces of nature, it's a misfortune and we must resign ourselves to our suffering. Should, however, some ill-intentioned agent, human or supernatural, have brought it about, then it is an injustice and we may express indignation and outrage.

A hurricane is a misfortune.  The destruction of homes in a hurricane because they were poorly constructed isn't a misfortune, it's an injustice for those who were dwelling in them.

AFP grasps the distinction in their report on the rains and the flooding in Baghdad:

Torrential rain caused chaos across several parts of Iraq on Thursday, with the water causing thigh-high flooding on some Baghdad streets and damaging camps for the displaced.
The storm that hit Baghdad on Wednesday evening was unusually violent and the first after a long, dry summer.
The poor condition of infrastructure in Baghdad, the second largest city in the region with an estimated population of more than eight million, resulted in spectacular flooding.

Knee high flood waters in parts of Baghdad are not a result of nature, not a misfortune.

They are an injustice.

Even more so for the displaced living in tent cities.

  • Iraq's leaders have had years to address the crumbling infrastructure.  (Crumbling from age, yes, but also from targeted bombings by the west.)

    This week's reports have forever thug and former prime minister (2006 to 2014) Nouri al-Maliki walking off with $500 billion in stolen funds -- including $250 billion that was aid from foreign countries and intended to be spent on, for example, reconstruction.

    For eight years, Nouri had the chance to improve Iraq's public infrastructure by providing adequate sanitation and sewage.  

    Instead, his son has high priced digs in London and a fleet of sports cars.  

    This despite the fact that the only job the son's held has been the government job Nouri gave him.

    But the al-Malikis live large as a result of all the funds stolen from the Iraqi people.

    Heavy rains are a misfortune.

    The standing water, the tent cities?  

    They're an injustice.

    And the latest cholera epidemic?

    Tie it into Nouri's refusal to do public works projects and deliver potable water to the people.

    Again, an injustice.

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