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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 6, 2005 / 2 Elul, 5765

The looting instinct

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Hurricane Katrina was horrific in its devastation, but the orgy of looting and lawlessness that exploded across New Orleans in its wake was, in a way, even more sinister.

A natural disaster can inflict massive physical damage on a community. But when human beings become savages, they shred the ligaments of civilization — fairness, trust, respect, consideration — that make life as a community possible.

The viciousness began almost before the storm had passed. A Wal-Mart was one of the first stores broken into; its inventory of guns promptly disappeared. Crowds of thieves ransacked clothing stores, jewelry stores, liquor stores. In full view of television crews and news photographers — and in some cases, even police or National Guardsmen — looters hauled cases of stolen beer through hip-deep water, filled trash barrels with clothes, shoes, and jewelry, and crammed car trunks with computers and DVD players. In a video clip shown on NBC, security guards joined looters in stripping one shop bare. Police officers looted, too.

To break into a drugstore protected by a steel barrier, reported The New York Times, ''someone had stolen a forklift, driven it four blocks, peeled up the security gate, and smashed through the front door." Thieves entered the parking garage of a New Orleans hospital and stripped cars of their batteries and stereos. Carjackers stole a vehicle from a nursing home bus driver. Looters ransacked a police truck filled with food.

But the breakdown of civil society didn't stop with attacks on property. Soon the predators were attacking people.

On Thursday, New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass described the savagery inside the convention center, where 15,000 people had taken shelter: ''We have individuals who are getting raped; we have individuals who are getting beaten." He sent 88 police officers to restore order; they were beaten back by a mob. Police snipers took up positions on precinct roofs, on guard against the armed gangs who were roaming the city. Not all the corpses turning up in New Orleans were of drowning victims. Some had been shot to death. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was trying to operate, director Michael Brown said, ''under conditions of urban warfare."

Those who called early on for shooting looters on sight should have been listened to — not because property is more valuable than human life, but because when property isn't safe from marauders, human life isn't, either. When thugs find out they can get away with looting, they're apt to conclude they can get away with anything. As always, there were those whose first instinct was to make excuses for the inexcusable.

''Had New York been closed off on 9/11, who can say what they would have done?" said Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, vice president of the New Orleans City Council. ''When there's no food, no water, no sanitation, who can say what you'd do? People were trying to protect their children." By smashing jewelry counters and stealing cases of beer? By committing rape?

As New Orleans sank into anarchy, The Washington Post reminded its readers to steer clear of moral judgments. ''What we think of as looting," Linton Weeks wrote on the front page of the Post's Style section, ''may be more complicated than it seems." And vandals making off with DVDs or flat-screen TVs is ''complicated" because — why, exactly? Weeks didn't explain. He did, however, quote others who were ''trying to understand the nuances of looting." Professor Benigno Aguirre of the University of Delaware: ''It may look from the outside as if they are stealing or breaking the law, when in fact some of them are trying to survive."

But most of us have no trouble distinguishing between desperate people in need of food and water and brazen criminals descending to the level of primitives. Just as most of us understand that morality and virtue are never more essential than when disaster strikes.

If too many people behaved shamefully last week, countless others responded to Katrina's horror with goodness and courage — from the heroism of those who braved the flood to rescue strangers to the torrent of private relief, hundreds of millions of dollars' worth, now pouring in from across the country.


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In his classic ''Man's Search for Meaning," the great psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl wrote: ''There are two races of men in this world . . . the 'race' of the decent man and the 'race' of the indecent man." Each of us chooses which ''race" to belong to. In New Orleans last week, the decent and the indecent made their choice.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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