Hallelujah

Hurricane Katrina - New Orleans - Race - Biblical references - “Hallelujah” - Video

Hurricane Katrina

[From Wikipedia] Hurricane Katrina was an extremely destructive and deadly Category 5 hurricane that struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in August 2005, causing catastrophic damage from central Florida to eastern Texas. […] Overall, at least 1,836 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making Katrina the deadliest United States hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. […] Total property damage was estimated at $125 billion (2005 USD)...

Over fifty breaches in surge protection levees surrounding the city of New Orleans, Louisiana were the cause of the majority of the death and destruction during Katrina. Eventually 80% of the city, as well as large tracts of neighboring parishes, became flooded, and the floodwaters lingered for weeks. Most of the transportation and communication networks servicing New Orleans were damaged or disabled by the flooding, and tens of thousands of people who had not evacuated the city prior to landfall became stranded with little access to food, shelter or basic necessities. […]

There were also widespread criticisms and investigations of the emergency responses from federal, state and local governments, which resulted in the resignations of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael D. Brown and New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Superintendent Eddie Compass. Many other government officials were criticized for their responses, especially New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and President George W. Bush.

New Orleans

[From Wikipedia] Katrina's storm surge led to 53 levee breaches in the federally built levee system protecting metro New Orleans and the failure of the 40 Arpent Canal levee. […] Most of the major roads traveling into and out of the city were damaged. The only major highway routes out of the city were the westbound Crescent City Connection and the Huey P. Long Bridge, as large portions of the I-10 Twin Span Bridge traveling eastbound towards Slidell, Louisiana had collapsed. Both the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and the Crescent City Connection only carried emergency traffic. […]

Levee breaches in New Orleans also caused a significant number of deaths, with over 700 bodies recovered in New Orleans by October 23, 2005. Some survivors and evacuees reported seeing dead bodies lying in city streets and floating in still-flooded sections, especially in the east of the city. The advanced state of decomposition of many corpses, some of which were left in the water or sun for days before being collected, hindered efforts by coroners to identify many of the dead.

Race

(from CBS September 3, 2005, 3:21 AM)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the most prominent black person in the Bush administration, downplayed the criticism.

"That Americans would somehow in a color-affected way decide who to help and who not to help, I, I just don't believe it," she said. "The African-American community has obviously been very heavily affected. But people are doing what they can for Americans. Nobody wants to see any American suffer."

In conversations at restaurants, homes, offices, on talk radio and online, it's clear that many blacks and whites view the effects of Katrina differently.

Although no group is monolithic in opinion or emotion, many blacks are outraged that so many of their own were left behind in New Orleans with no evacuation plan and no urgent effort to rescue them.

"Black people are mad because they feel the reason for the slow response is because those people are black and they didn't support George Bush," said Ron Walters, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. "And I don't expect that feeling to go away anytime soon."

No one questions that whites have been moved by the suffering of blacks, and vice versa. But amid images of black looters, some sympathy threatens to give way to anger and disdain.

The hurricane's racial conflict took on political overtones Friday, as black leaders blasted the Bush administration's slow response and asked whether race played a part.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson charged that race was "at least a factor" in the slow response.

"We have an amazing tolerance for black pain," he told CNN on Friday. He questioned why the U.S. military couldn't house many of the homeless on unused military airbases, adding that more people will die of starvation and dehydration than from drowning.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D- Md., stopped short of that, saying that it was the frail, the weak and the sick who were left in need. But in an interview on CNN, Cummings said, "I'm not sure" if racism was partly responsible for the problems.

"All I know is that a number of the faces that I saw were African-American," he said.

Biblical References

[In his lyric, Cohen refers to the Biblical David several times, and possibly to Samson and Delilah. I’ve put in bold the parts from Wikipedia relating to the lyric.]

David

After God sends an evil spirit to torment Saul, his courtiers recommend that he send for David, a man skillful on the lyre, wise in speech, and brave in battle. David thus enters Saul's service as one of the royal armour-bearers and plays the lyre to soothe the king.

David is described in the Hebrew Bible as the second king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah. In the biblical narrative, David is a young shepherd who first gains fame as a musician and later by killing Goliath. […] As king, David commits adultery with Bathsheba,

[David's first interactions with Bathsheba are described in 2 Samuel 11, and are omitted in the Books of Chronicles. David, while walking on the roof of his palace, saw a very beautiful woman bathing. He ordered enquiries and found out that she was Bathsheba, wife of Uriah. He desired her and later made her pregnant.]

William Blake’s  Bathsheba at the Bath,  c. 1799-1800 (colour heightened by RYC, from Wikimedia Commons)

William Blake’s Bathsheba at the Bath, c. 1799-1800 (colour heightened by RYC, from Wikimedia Commons)

leading him to arrange the death of her husband Uriah the Hittite. Because of this sin, God denies David the opportunity to build the temple, and his son Absalom tries to overthrow him. David flees Jerusalem during Absalom's rebellion, but after Absalom's death he returns to the city to rule Israel. Before his peaceful death, he chooses his son Solomon as successor. He is honored in the prophetic literature as an ideal king and an ancestor of a future Messiah, and many psalms are ascribed to him.

Delilah?

Delilah is a woman mentioned in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible. She is loved by Samson, a Nazirite who possesses great strength and serves as the final Judge of Israel. Delilah is bribed by the lords of the Philistines to discover the source of his strength. After three failed attempts at doing so, she finally goads Samson into telling her that his vigor is derived from his hair. As he sleeps, Delilah orders a servant to cut Samson's hair, thereby enabling her to turn him over to the Philistines.

Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)

There are many versions of the lyrics to this song. #1 is the original version, from Various Positions (1984). #2 is the version used by Jeff Buckley, which is also used in the YT video. Q1: How do the versions differ? Q2: Which version do you think goes best with the Katrina video footage and audio track? Q3: What’s the relation of version #2 to the video content? Use a structural chart to arrive at a thesis statement.

hallelujah comparative.jpeg

Video

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