Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why neglect New Orleans??

Tomorrow the President is coming to visit. He is scheduled to go to one of the New Orleans public schools. I can't find out much more than that as to his schedule for the day. Metroblog New Orleans has a post about a meeting some folks are organizing to protest his visit.
I hate sounding jaded and defeatist but I also have to agree with the post author who suggests that perhaps a protest may be futile and that the best thing to do is to ignore him.

The Bush administration has failed New Orleans many many times over. They failed to have an adequate emergency preparations for the levees breaking (which was predicted and warned of over and over), for the care of those citizens who could not help themselves, for the evacuation of families, for the funds being allocated to the right people for rebuilding..... the list goes on and on. America should be angry - really angry. Billions (or maybe trillions?) of tax dollars have been spent and are being spent on a war that should not have happened in the first place. That money should have been allocated where it could make a difference to the lives of the citizens of this country.

New Orleans needs help. Yes, all the tourist stuff is up and running and tourists NEED to come back and are slowly. And yes, Mardi Gras was a huge success this year and lots of people came to experience it. But a drive around the east side of this city reveals those still missing, buildings unoccupied, neighborhoods empty. New Orleans is still limping. New Orleans still needs help.

It is not the people of America that are not helping (volunteers are still coming down here) but the government that needs to step in and do its job. I don't quite know why and I'd love someone to enlighten me, but the US government seems to think its okay to neglect this city. And this has gone on long before Katrina. Is it because of the whole French connection, the Louisiana Purchase thing? Is it because there are so many blacks (ex-slaves) in this city? Is it because this city likes a drink or five and to have a good time? Or is it because this city is so focused on celebrating that they don't complain enough?

What I do know is that the culture here is priceless and crucial. But I also know how unlike the rest of America it is too. Is that why? Is it because this city refuses to be taken over by chain restaurants, stores, big new generic homes and shopping malls? PLEASE someone tell me why?


eyeball_kid said...

I can't tell you exactly why, but it has alot to do with the misconception that New Orleans is an American city. You touched on this already. Here is a good piece by Joe Longo from on how New Orleans is perceived by outsiders:

I enjoy reading your posts. Welcome to New Orleans, cher.

Cursed Tea said...

Thanks "eyeball kid" for your link - I laughed in a satirical way, and sighed in my heart at the truth of the article.
It boggles my mind that the rest of America has no IDEA of what this city is like. Afterall most midwesterners get the impression all Mardi Gras is is getting drunk on Bourbon street and flashing bits of flesh!! I know it is the media that regurgitates this misconception every fat tuesday (I was dismayed when I saw ABC news on Feb 20th this year).
They only know a little of the amount of culture in this city and an even smaller amount about the problems its creative, friendly (on the most part - lets leave drugs out of this for now...) citizens have in existing in this place.

I was warned and learnt very early on that living in N'awlins meant loving it and being let down by it all at the same time. Its like the love of your life - with money problems, crime problems, physical problems ...

Maybe thats why N'awlins NEEDS to party!! :-)

Press said...

America has a long history of letting cities decline. New York in the 70s is a good example. Part of the answer is the federal government isn't supposed to govern cities. Even DC is largely on its own. I wish we had the Ntional Guard here before Katrina. But I don't think it's any plot. Congress has already sent billions our way. If we hadn't spent 2 years planning our recovery (and still not done!), we might have gotten more done.