Thursday, April 12, 2007

God, I hate it when this kind of abyss opens up.

Recovery czar Ed Blakely made comments that called New Orleanians "buffoons" and condemned the city's population to a position of making way for the "energy" of new blood moving into the area. Though Blakely has apologized for his comments, they have opened a bit of a rift in the blogpocheh that parallels a centuries-old problem in these parts - that of entitlement due to ancestry.

Granted, most of the people who are blogging about New Orleans are not part of the traditional upper crust in these parts. And I, for one, am happy about that.

No, the lines that are being drawn, the chests that are being puffed up, are those belonging to those who have lost a lot, if not everything, and those who are not in the same boat. Those who lived through all the hell of Katrina and the floods and those who moved here afterwards. Those who are suspicious of outsiders - ANY outsiders - and those who will, at the very LEAST, give people who made the choice to come here something of a chance. Those who want blood for the insult of being called a buffoon, and those who let it roll off their backs.

Should I go on and on?

I have said it many times in commenting on other people's blogs about this latest name-calling, and I will say it again. We who want the city to come back better than ever without losing what makes this place great are going nuts over peanuts. We are showing that words hurt. We are unfortunately proving Blakely right in that we are behaving "a bit like the Shiites and Sunnis" over his assessments.

When does criticism become self-defeating? When does pride become a creaky crutch? When we cannot get past all the names, all the slights, imagined or no, and work towards a common cause.

But then again, I am the ultimate outsider. I wasn't born here, I didn't lose much property-wise in the storm, and I chose to move back here after the storm with my family. Hell, I'm not even Christian, people. Obviously, I have NO clue.

I would be - and I am - much more alarmed that the recovery czar is not taking any questions from anybody in this city concerning its recovery. Czar Outsider is taking his cues from the rest of City Hall, darn it. That should have been a major red flag well before all of this sorry buffoon business. (thanks, David)

Besides, I read this little passage: Those who demand a “right to return” for former residents are merely “using people” for political ends, Dr. Blakely said sharply in an interview - and I got a tad queasy. There is one other country on this planet that quibbles over a "right to return" issue, and that is Israel. Ultra-orthodox forces in the Knesset have been trying for ages to get the "Who is a Jew?" question defined on their terms, which would severely curtail the number of people allowed Israeli citizenship. If they ever succeeded in narrowing that category of "Jewishness", well, I know I'd be excluded, because I'm a secular Jew. Most of the American Jewish population would be barred from entering Israel as citizens as well.

So think about this the next time you are willing to draw blood over words: how would you fence in New Orleans? How would you determine who is best qualified to work for the benefit of this city? And before you dig in your heels, check to see which side of the fence you are really on.


Adrastos said...

Great post, Leigh. The blogs have been depressing this week. It's way past time for us to get to work rebuilding the city. Is Blakely an ass? Yes but he's a well connected and respected one. Celcus has a very good analysis of the new plan.

Btw, the bickering in NOLA reminds me of the old story about how if you put 6 Israelis in a room, you have 6 political parties...

GentillyGirl said...

Leigh, there's a reason I've stayed out of this Blakely poop: Kaiser Ed's rhetoric is about putting folks here off kilter. When there is confusion amongst the ranks, you can slide anything past them. Ive been standing quietly in the aisle.

I know Blakely did a good job in Oakland after the fire... I lived across the Bay and spent a lot of time in that town, but the details are different here. He doesn't seem to be articulating his message very well. In fact, he is alienating his best supporters: those of us who are rebuilding.

The 200,000 are hurt by his remarks, even though we know those whom he is referring to. He just threw the buffoon net out, and didn't define the net, and we are troubled about that.

And as far as the Native vs. Transplant thing? Honeys? If you like my peoples' city and ways, freakin' come on in because you're our kind of folks. As the city's history shows, newcomers have invigorated and moved New Orleans higher and higher every time. It's just another set of ingredients of a NOLA Gumbo.

And the B/S about who lost, and who didn't during the Flood? We in New Orleans all LOST because of the Flood. There's many ways to define loss, but we all DID lose.

So, we just have to live with Mr. Ed, put some reins on him, and get started on getting the city fixed. That's all any of us can do, IMHO.

This is the gift this city gives.

Leigh C. said...

Hey, Adrastos, another saying: two Jews, three synagogues.

And Morwen...brava to you.

To all: I just saw those words "right of return" and THAT was my personal red flag.

Anonymous said...

Great post, and it is time to get over it, get back on to the same page and, get back to work.

Leigh C. said...

I'll drink to that, celcus...

saintseester said...

I will admit that it bothered me to see the phrase "right of return," due to the complexity of the issue in the middle east. I wondered if it troubled others to hear that phrase in this context.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Q: how would you fence in New Orleans?

A: With one that keeps seawater out of New Orleans.

Good post.