"They're trying to wash us away"

One of my all-time favorite albums is Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys. Released in 1974, that album has been described as “a musical tour of the American South.” Indeed, the songs weave a rich tapestry of southern characters, relationships, and incidents. One song on the album, “Louisiana 1927,” is the musical equivalent of historical fiction. Describing the horrific floods that hit the region in 1927, Newman sings:

“Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright…
Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re trying to wash us away,
They’re trying to wash us away”

Eerily, history does repeat itself as witnessed by the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flooding of New Orleans. In another verse in the song, Newman let’s us hear President Coolidge making a comment to a chubby journalist:
“The President say, ‘Little fat man isn’t it a shame what the river has done to this poor cracker’s land’ ”

Fast forward 78 years and put George W. Bush in the same scenario and it might sound something like this:
“Hey tubby, ain’t it a shame what the hura’kin done did to these poor black folks land.”

Of course, I’m being charitable in this imaginary conversation. I’m not sure which term the Bush family uses for African-Americans around the dinner table, but I’d guess it’s not “black folks.”

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