People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Why not New Orleans?

Posted by schroeder915 on January 18, 2006

Actor and screenwright Roger Wilson wrote an inspiring essay for The Gambit this week about why New Orleans should be rebuilt:

San Francisco, Chicago and New York City … each had been “reborn, rebuilt and revitalized” following events (earthquake, fire and kamikaze terrorists, respectively) that threatened their very existence. In each case, ashes somehow gave way to opportunity. Perhaps because in each case these cities and their traumatized populace were given the time, the money and the chance to rebuild; without compromise, without exclusion, and without explaining their need to do so. … One question kept bouncing across my mind, “Why not New Orleans?” …

Yet this suggestion of a “smaller New Orleans,” what some have called a “better” New Orleans, has for these last five months maintained a remarkable legitimacy around the globe, making my optimism seem about as sound as the walls along the 17th Street Canal. Inside the corridors of our own national government, rather than being excoriated for the blasphemous dialogue it truly represents, this talk of “not wasting money on New Orleans” has assumed the personage of a genuine political discourse. A point wholly laughable in the face of what we spend monthly in Iraq. … You know you’re in trouble when the assessment of your worth lies at the very feet of those in great part responsible for its annihilation. …

“How,” I want to ask our current president, can it be deemed unjust and un-American to abandon the democratization of Iraq, while at the same time you “cut and run” on an American democracy? …

Blueprints for the city’s reinvention … in appearance and quality seem much like what the makers of diet soda chose to heap upon the once “real thing” — a product not as dark and sweet, but not as bad for you either. “New Orleans Lite” if you will.

As someone who lived in New York City both during and after Sept. 11, I can assure you there was never a moment’s doubt as to “if” or “how” that city would be rebuilt. The only question was how quickly it would get done. Nor was there a word mentioned about minimizing the space available to that world of criminals, derelicts and professional hucksters, some of the latter posting six- and seven-figure salaries, who regularly floated across the trade tower’s neighborhood. It was all to be remade in honor of what had been in place before that tragic day, a different design but the same spirit, reinstating both the good with the bad, and doing so without any hint of reluctance or reproach. …

Were people out there, for whatever reason, taking advantage of this low-point in the city’s history to impart upon those who are mostly unknowing and non-participating souls in the cycles of municipal graft some long overdue justice? Well, if cleanliness of character and reputation is to be the requisite for rebuilding American institutions in the wake of their destruction, then how come no one took pause when it came time to rebuild the Pentagon or the heart of Wall Street? Have any two spheres of influence perpetrated more dubious activities and results than those two? If we are to equate daily sin, or misguided intentions, with the need to protect and rebuild, God help Las Vegas should anything bad happen to it. …

No, the answer is the Pentagon and World Trade Center had to be rebuilt, for countless reasons, brick by brick, block by hallowed city block, and so should New Orleans. … while it is easy to point to the watermarks left behind by the flooding, it is far more difficult to identify in sum the emotional wounds that are just as prevalent and in need of cleansing. With this in mind, it seems fairly obvious that the need to restore any American city to its original state in the wake of such physical and emotional devastation is not a matter of debate, but merely one of civic obligation. Holding the inhabitants of such a city hostage to the moral and financial posturing we are currently witnessing, when doing so accomplishes little more than to toy with the hearts and minds of those that have been toyed with enough, is in fact “unjust and un-American.” …

Maybe if people across America were made to understand that the corn they grow, the seafood they relish, the fabrics they manufacture, the gas they guzzle, the jazz and blues they have long enjoyed, never mind the economic wealth all that created and was subsequently passed down from one generation to the next, if people realized all that was intangibly aligned with this crazy place and the port of departure it represents, they might have a change of heart as to whether it is worth saving. … Millions regularly derided New York City and its abrupt, often-indefensible mannerisms prior to 9/11. But hardly anyone contemplated letting it die a slow and painful death in the days and months that followed the attacks. What people need to realize is that the very groups who botched the Katrina tragedy, and so brazenly continue to do so, will most likely do the same should something of equally dark proportions befall their own community. If that were to happen, my bet is they would start to yell and scream like the people down here because what Katrina represents is not the devastation of an American township, but rather a lethal assault on the American ideal. …

Why not New Orleans?


4 Responses to “Why not New Orleans?”

  1. If NO had a few more Abramoff-style Republicans and a lot less of those pesky “chocolate” people, I betcha Bush could pony up the cash to rebuild the town purty quick!

  2. Schroeder said

    Wow! What a fascinating hypothesis lobotomy man.

    So, let me see if I get this right, you’re suggesting that a better approach would be to take money from American Indian tribes while calling them troglodytes behind their backs, dole out wads of cash to “politicians” to enact favorable legislation (voters be damned), and march lock-step with the Bush administration roughshod over the Constitution.

    Wow! Well now, there wouldn’t be much left of our democracy when it was all said and done would there?


  3. Lenny Zimmermann said

    Lob sounded pretty darned sarcastic to me. Had me chuckling. Unless I read him wrong…

  4. Schroeder said

    AAAH! Thanks for the smack in the head lenny. You are right indeed.

    I have wronged lobotomy man — too much caffeine, I suppose, and not enough time on the ivories. I don’t often enough frequent Thick, Meaty Slices of Brain to recognize the tone of humor.

    Please accept my apology the lobotomist.

    Should any follow this post, note the following post by the lobotomist which takes to task television news for pandering to the vapid mental accuity of its viewers instead of enlightening them:

    Look at the state of the world today. The war. Unwarranted, unconstitutional spying on Americans. Iran. North Korea. The Abramoff Scandal. All of these things that require our IMMEDIATE and FOCUSED attention!

    But what ARE we focused on? Let’s check some of the top stories on the Cable News Websites this fine January morning.

    From MSNBC, THESE headlines!

    Scoop: Oops! Spears swaps religion
    Uh oh! Britney Spears isn’t a Baptist or a practitioner of Kaballah any more! Now she’s HINDU!

    Hamster, snake best friends at Tokyo zoo
    I’m guessing this friendship will last until the snake gets hungry.

    William Shatner sells kidney stone for charity
    It raised $25,000. For that much, he should throw in the entire kidney. …

    The point of all this? As long as we prefer to be distracted by trivia and “celebrity gossip”, those in a position to run rampant over our rights will do so with impunity. As long as we’re more concerned about “Tom and Katie” than we are about “George and Alberto and Jack and Tom DeLay”, then we will continue to have the kind of government we deserve.

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