Would it surprise anyone to learn that Hurricane Katrina ranks second in a survey by Sony as the most watched moments in TV history. Nestled between #1 – 9/11 terror attach and third place verdict for O.J. Simpson, Katrina made history for all the wrong reasons. Katrina falls to 15th place on the list of the top 20 worst moments in American history, but then it has strong competition from assassinations, massacres, and atomic bombs.
Katrina was just another hurricane before the levees broke. What happened next was so astounding, so unbelievable, Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a more fantastic tale. I’ll never forget calling my husband at work when news broke that thousands of survivors were trapped at the Convention Centre. Katrina played out like a bad disaster movie; on what planet would it not have occurred to anyone that the Convention Centre was packed with desperate people. As FEMA struggled to decide which was their left or right hand, Canadian search and rescue teams were among the first responders. Utterly bizarre. Hours became days, tempers flared, fingers were pointed, and still thousands suffered or perished. Without question the biggest screw up in American history.
Globally the worst moments in history make a little more sense than the Katrina fiasco. According to listverse the top ten come with religious book ends. Number 10 being Catholic sexual abuse, and number 1 the Crusades. In between are two world wars, famines, genocides, 9/11, and the plague. Far from thinking any of these moments actually make sense, black death aside, these moments were the result of conscious decisions or planning.
We could ponder and debate bad history for hours, the world has no shortage of horrific moments to crowd top ten lists. In fact anyone who can narrow it down to ten is doing a lot better than I ever could. Instead I’m pondering a slightly different bad history; a history that could have been spared the lists had it been taken seriously.