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.