Friday, November 03, 2006

White Devils 1, Mau-Maus 0

"I hate Illinois Nazis"
-- Jake Blues in The Blues Brothers

If you find the headline on this post offensive, it's not half as repugnant as the ugly, race-blinded arguments made at yesterday's New Orleans City Council meeting over the creation of an Office of Inspector General for city government. I think the world view the title suggest is more ridiculous than offensive, just like the suggestion by a few vocal opponents that the establishment of a watchdog office over city government is a plot by white people to attack black politicians.

The Times-Picayune reported " . . . activists including Albert "Chui" Clark and Dyan French Cole attacked the proposal as an effort by white politicians to target black officials. They also used the occasion to denounce the condition of the city's public schools and to praise Criminal District Judge Charles Elloie, who was suspended from his job recently by the Louisiana Supreme Court pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged judicial misconduct." What, was time up before they could get around to defending Dollar Bill?

My only hope is that anyone who stands up for the status quo of the openly corrupt and incompetent Orleans Parish School Board or defends Judge Elloie on purely racial identify grounds will find no real support in any community in the city, black or white. Sadly, that's not entirely true. Even The Cynthias (veteran city council members Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Cynthia Willard-Lewis who have obstructed the proposal all year) say silently through the entire debate, giving tacit approval to the race bating from the audience podium.

The idea for such an Inspector General to oversee city government was overwhelmingly approved by a nearly seven-to-three margin in a 1995 city wide election, a result that would require substantial support among the city's predominantly black voters. One speaker asked "Why didn't white folks do this when they had power"? Well, because the last white mayor was in the 1970s, and the issue has only come to fruition in the last decade. You want to exhume the corpse of Robert Maestri and indict it or parade it through the streets, that's fine. I'm worried about who's in power now.

I struggled for a while to find the rational thread inside their reported arguments, and failed. There is no logic, simply a visceral appeal to racial identify, fueled I suspect by anger at the difficulty many black Orleanians face trying to come home. The city today is predominately white, and it is going to stay that way unless we all figure out how to put all this behind us, how to relegate the reflexive mau-mauism exhibited Thursday to the past, to same sort of embarrassing tableau in the Historical Wax Museum of Louisiana Stupidity where we find David Duke.

Put simply: we don't have time for this shit.

The purpose of resurrecting the long dormant Inspector General proposal is to satisfy the federal bean counters who hold the purse strings of recovery money. These bean counters are under the close supervision of a government controlled by a party that has a well established pattern and practice of attempting to illegally disenfranchise black voters, a party I believe revels in the storm-sent racial cleansing of the city.

By trying to block this initiative, these self-annointed activists are playing right into their hands.

I want everyone to come home who is returning to rebuild the city as a better place. I have no use for people who would tear it down or those would would settle for the status quo antedeluvian. People who would defend the old OPSB or Judge Elloise, frankly they are an obstacle; no, a real direct threat to the recovery of the city. If they aren't home, I would just assume they stay wherever the hell they are. Let me know where that is so we can send Jimmy Reiss and the rest of the Knights of the Invisible Hand there with them.

I want this city rebuilt so that those of us who chose to live in a diverse community together can get on with the serious business of a true Reconstruction, one in which Dr. Martin Luther King's children of former slaves and the children of former slave owners can live together in a better place than we had before, without the reflexive racism on both sides that has colored our past.

If the rebirth of the city fails, if New Orleans becomes a tourist museum tableaux of the City That Care Forgot set amid the condos of the white and wealthy who come every year for The Mardi Gras, I believe historians will look back at this moment and remember The Cynthias and their henchmen in the audience, will remember this as the moment all the old demons reached up out of the ground and dragged our last hopes down to hell.

Excellent post, Mark. You are right, people like that are part of the problem, the same old SOP bullshit that crippled this city for decades. We don't have the time or the luxury of that crap anymore.
I wonder if Cole has witnesses that the measure is racially motivated, like she did about the levees.

When you mentioned Maestri you also got to another answer to the white people didn't do this whenthey had power. Fact is, white voters did get upset when corrupt white pols were in power. You can say that the reformers they elected either failed to enact permanent reforms (like Morrison) or were frauds from the beginning (take your pick), but it's a ridiculous myth to say that were never any efforts to clean up government when whites were in power.
I think in my entire ancestory I can claim one owner of two slaves, and one overseer from the post-Reconstruction period (at Stella in Plaquemines). Most southerners did not own slaves. I was merely borrowing Dr. King's line, one that has appeared in many drafts but not made it into the blog before. I think its an important rhetorical point that everyone--most of all these activitsts in the New Orleans African-American community--ought to pay heed to.
Good post. Another issue is this. If unelected (and unelectable) ignorant hate filled bullies dominate discourse, this disenfranchises those of us who worked to elect representatives. We live in a representative democracy, not a direct democracy. Empowering loudmouths who have nothing better to do than yammer at City Council meetings or planning meetings effectively disenfranchises the rest of us who work for a living, pay our taxes, and express our opinions by voting.
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