August 29, 2006

The Yes Men "have impersonated some of the world's most powerful criminals at conferences, on the web, and on television, in order to correct their identities." Yesterday, a federal housing official spoke to the attendees of the Gulf Coast Reconstruction and Hurricane Preparedness Summit. The topic of his speech was his department's mission to ensure affordable housing is available for those who need it. "This year, in New Orleans, I'm ashamed to say we have failed," he said. That should've been their first clue that the speech was a hoax.

The man was an impostor. He drew applause from the crowd with descriptions of plans to support public housing, help nurture local businesses, finance wetlands rebuilding. "With your help, the prospects of New Orleanians will no longer depend on their birthplace, and the cycle of poverty will come to an end." But none of these things are true. A HUD spokesman has referred to it as a cruel hoax (for claiming that the Bush administration was actually going to help the victims of the hurricane, when really they're not). This was the work of The Yes Men. They've done things like this before. And right or wrong, their actions have never failed to get media attention. A HUD spokesman, for example, responded to the current hoax in an interview on CNN, just to let the nation know that the plans to help Katrina victims are "totally bogus" and that the department does in fact plan to continue closing public housing in New Orleans.