Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zeitoun Discussion Questions

Watching the award winning documentary: Trouble the Water.

Leading up to Hurricane Katrina

According to the author, was Zeitoun’s decision to remain in New Orleans after a mandatory evacuation order an act of hubris or one of compassion? If both, then which outweighs the other?

In what ways does Zeitoun’s life before and during Katrina challenge or reaffirm the notion of the American Dream? What can we learn about The American Dream from Zeitoun’s experience?

Can one ever fully prepare for a natural disaster such as Katrina? Whose responsibility is it make sure states, cities and homes are prepared for these events?

Katrina Strikes

What happens when organization breaks down? Where do you see examples of poor organization in Zeitoun? Who is in charge? Who should be in charge?

Was Hurricane Katrina a natural or man-made disaster?

New Orleans, LA, August 30, 2005 -- People sit on a roof waiting to be rescued after Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is being evacuated as a result of flooding caused by hurricane Katrina. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

Immediate Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
FEMA was roundly criticized for how it handled pretty much everything in New Orleans. How do Zeitoun’s experiences relate to these criticisms?

Considering Zeitouns’ experience with authority and the stories we’ve read about Danziger Bridge, Algiers Point, etc. Is there any explanation or justification for the treatment US citizens seem to have received at the hands of police, etc.

What happened in the superdome? What happened in “Camp Greyhound”? What is going on with this super charged human aggression that’s right below the surface?

Are there any universal human rights that are made apparent by this story? Examples: Right to fair trial. Right to phone call. Right to practice any religion. (Note: this question hides another, more basic one: is there such a thing as a universal human right?)

Aftermath and Legacy: Meaning for America

Are the darker parts of this story story more about an innate human aggression or innate human fear?

Based on the book, evaluate how the Qur’an influences Zeitoun’s and Kathy’s understanding of their place in the world and their responsibilities to others. Do their thoughts and actions alter your understanding of Islam?

What principles ought to guide and govern our actions in a diverse/pluralistic society? Is there anything to which we are all accountable?

How does the shadow of 9/11 impact Zeitoun and his family? Is this “shadow” an entirely negative thing?

Given what happens to Zeitoun, do you think he would choose to stay in the city again. Do you think you would stay?

How much, if anything, does a national government owe its citizens in a time of emergency or crisis? Answers might range from “ 24-hour care and protection from cradle to grave” to “very little. Bad things happen and people need to cope”.

How do we feel about Kanye’s claims about inequality in our country?

Controlling the weather has been investigated and attempted throughout history for many reasons. In fact, weather control has been outlawed internationally for war purposes. Should we be research controlling the weather if it means preventing events such as Katrina from striking the United States? How would we weigh the benefits and costs?

Are people displaced by Hurricane Katrina “refugees”? Why would they be upset by this label?

These documentaries, and to some extent Zeitoun, are extremely critical of US government and authority in general. Does the “democracy” of films like these justify the loss of trust and unity that our country feels as a result?

If one believes that human action or choice had something to do with Hurricane Katrina (climate change, slums in New Orleans, a long history of racism), just who is responsible? Does the responsibility extend to those of us disconnected from New Orleans?

“We weren’t American enough for the rest of America”. (Jana Napoli)
“Did all that really happen? Did it happen in the United States?” (Kathy)
“I thought I lived in the United States of America, until a couple of days after Katrina.” (Congressional representative)

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