Evacuees handed out Cadillacs

A large number of people in my corner of Southeast Texas are digging deep in their pockets and pitching into help the thousands of evacuees that have come from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

On the local TV news a few nights ago, I saw something that probably wouldn’t have been seen 15-20 years ago. That was a sea of black faces in a church in nearby Vidor, Texas. Vidor had this longtime reputation as the epicenter of the Ku Klux Klan. City leaders have worked for a long time to change this image, although it certainly isn’t easy because every now and then some redneck there will up and do something to embarrass the otherwise sane folks who live there.

This is, after all, the area in which Jasper exists. It’s only 60 miles away. I was born in Jasper and I wasn’t surprised to hear about the dragging death of James Byrd, as shocking as it was. I don’t say that meaning most people are filled with racial hatred there. But some are. I bring this up because of something annoying I read in e-mail last night.

I belong to a local “free-cycle” group. It is a e-mail group that is supposed to make various items of about any shape or size, free for the asking. Those who are in need of a particular item can post their need. Sometimes the twain shall meet.

During the last few days, some well-meaning people have posted requests for items needed for evacuees at some of the local shelters. Among those posts were stories about how evacuees were getting free food stamps for two months just for the asking. No outrage was mentioned, as this group is supposedly non-political, but none was needed. One e-mail said FEMA told them the food stamp story was true.

Well first of all, FEMA is not in charge of food stamps. The state of Texas is in charge and the urban legend is debunked here.

I just wonder who spreads such rumors? Is it the trolls who either want to intentionally make mischief by outraging people across the Internet or those with a political agenda who are content to let the evacuees starve and die? Or is it some dumb redneck who continues to perpetuate the “Welfare Cadillac” myth? This was such a legend while I was growing up, I was downright dumbfounded to find out that people I knew who were on welfare didn’t really have a Cadillac. Yeah, we still have some people around who are too stupid to live. And it’s not just in Southeast Texas. All you have to do is listen to talk radio or read the Yahoo message boards under a story.

It’s just fortunate for some that being a dimwitted redneck isn’t a capital crime.

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