We've had a bountiful serving of commentaries and ceremonies on Hurricane Katrina and a decade of ethnic cleansing and resilience in New Orleans. Former President George Bush rebuked Kanye West by nuzzling black children, the Danziger Bridge killers of Ronald Madison and James Brissette Jr. celebrated their 2011 federal convictions being trashed, and the 9th Ward got a plaque.
There's been more time reminiscing about New Orleans’ looters of yore than jabs at federal inmate, former Mayor Ray Nagin.
Between Wendell Pierce’s new book, Lil Weezyana, and the consistently vulgar Chicago Tribune… the late Chris Kyle was forgotten.
Which seems impossible considering American Sniper christened 2015 with six Academy Award nominations and grossed more $300 million. “The most lethal sniper in U.S. military history” sports a list of honors nearly equal to his number of confirmed kills. In June, he was posthumously awarded the Texas Legislative Medal Of Honor. More than 200,000 petitioners insist Kyle be awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor, and just this summer, a Georgia Family converted seven acres of farmland to a monument for the murdered Navy Seal.
No evidence places “killer Kyle” in the Crescent City when the levees broke. But Nicholas Schmidle reports that the deified veteran bragged about notching extra kills on the flooded streets of New Orleans:
“In the days after Hurricane Katrina, he said, the law-and-order situation was dire. He and another sniper… set up on top of the Superdome, and proceeded to shoot dozens of armed residents who were contributing to the chaos. Three people shared with me varied recollections of that evening: the first said that Kyle claimed to have shot thirty men on his own.”
Perhaps if Clint Eastwood had included this scene in the fallen soldier’s biopic, he would’ve nabbed an Oscar or three.
In his autobiography, Kyle habitually brands the people he slayed in Iraq as “despicable savages.” Identical verbiage was employed against the drowned black citizens of New Orleans. Sheri Fink writes that Former Memorial Hospital (Baptist) employee and Suspected Racist Dr. John Thiele feared “crazy Black people, who think they’ve been oppressed for all these years by White people,” would wade through toxic sludge to rape, dismember, and torture hospitalized elderly patients. Some of Dr. Thiele’s armed colleagues evoked Kyle’s spirit by threatening to shoot “looters,” “including wide-eyed children” near a hospital window.
In Katrina: After The Flood, Gary Rivlin depicts Tulane University’s Lance Hill bearing witness as Katrina transmogrified Whites “to their original state.” Hill “watched as two White men thanked a white National Guardsman for helping to protect their city. ‘Now if you can just keep the blacks from coming back.’”
Kyle may have been absent, but local police, state troopers, National Guard, military personnel, privately contacted Israeli forces, Academi (Blackwater), and gun-toting White civilians saturated the streets of NOLA. AC Thompson conducted years of research on nearly a dozen Black people who were killed in the week following Katrina by New Orleans police officers or random White citizens. Enforcement officers alleged that Baton Rouge police targeted and molested black evacuees and branded them "'animals' that needed to be beaten down." The documentary Welcome To New Orleans records a gang of Whites gleefully admitting to carnage Kyle could only counterfeit. They picnic and reminisce about “looters” they capped after the storm. “It was like shooting pheasants.”
Banishing, hunting black bodies, terminating black life is a hallowed occasion in the history of White Supremacy. The hurricane, levee failure, and contempt for black life consumed more than a thousand black lives.
Kyle told tall tales where he added to that number.