New Orleans — our own little Baghdad USA

Posted on Wednesday 10 January 2007

Some time ago, I pretty much stopped writing about Iraq. I’m sad for the Iraqis whose lives have been thrown into the abyss; I’m appalled by the sectarian mayhem and human atrocities; I’m livid at my government, whose lack of planning for a post-invasion Iraq led to the entire mess.

And I’m utterly helpless to affect the situation there one way or another.

Of course, I’ve never been to Baghdad. I haven’t walked its streets and felt its soul. I didn’t go to school there, nor do I have long-standing childhood friends to bind my heart to the city’s fortunes.

I can’t say that about New Orleans.

Yesterday, C Ray Nagin popped out of wherever it is he keeps himself these days, and said that “enough is enough”; he’s “drawing a line in the sand”, and that “one murder is one too many”… and for the first time since Katrina, I felt despair.

What’s going to be different from September 2005? Or in March 2006? Or June? Or from every other time the leaders of the city were going to “fix” this?

Nothing. Violent crime isn’t just “up” in New Orleans. It’s anarchy.

More training and more police until they come back to “pre-Katrina strength”? Pffftttt! Don’t give me that song and dance! The force is down 400 officers, yes — but it’s responsible for 60% fewer people!

What really galls me, though, is the ongoing madness of the business owners and tourism industry there, who resisted a curfew because it might have an impact on potential visitors’ perception of the city. Sounds to me like they’re trying to “stay the course”, eh?

Less lait for the café, please, so they can wake up!

The perception of the city is that it’s a war zone already, and that the city leaders are either unable or unwilling to take the drastic necessary steps to provide security to its citizens. You know… like they needed in Baghdad.

I read a lot about how the Iraqis need to “step up” and “take charge” of their destinies — how there’s no point in continuing on this path until they assume ownership of their internal problems — and oddly enough, I hear that about New Orleanians, too.

“They elected Nagin”, folks say. “They asked for it”.

Okay then — tomorrow, there’s a march planned in New Orleans.

PLEASE join in the anti-crime march on Thursday, January 11th. And ask everyone that you know to participate. It’s so important for the survival of our community that all facets of the community are represented and are committed to coming together.

The “ENOUGH! Stop the Violence” March will begin at 11:30 at the foot of Canal Street near the Aquarium. People are asked to begin gathering at 11.
Participants will march to City Hall where a rally will take place at noon.

Don’t let crime kill the heart of New Orleans!

Crime is killing New Orleans, but it’s been dying a slow death for a long time, and without invasive and massive intervention, I don’t know what will stop this. Unfortunately, I don’t think the city’s leadership has what it takes to change the outcome here.

I hope I’m wrong…. because I don’t want to stop writing about New Orleans, too.

* * * * *

Long as it is, this post feels incomplete. I need to share with you some of the terrible heartache that’s pouring out of the city.

From Loki:

Scared, angry, and sad. That about covers it. I love my home. I love it the way only a native French Creole can. I also miss it terribly. More and more fear this to be a dark mirror held up to the already flawed face of New Orleans. It would not shock me to find that Spock has a beard.

I simply do not know if can continue here. We shall see …

From Slate:

Am I making excuses for the killers out there? Absolutely not. They are lost to us now in most cases, I fear. I don’t think we can undo the damage of twenty years anymore than we can undo the horror these kids are unleashing. I am only saying that we are all so shaken up, so SHOCKED by the recent spate of killings here in our city, and we shouldn’t be. It’s been coming for a long time. What the hell did we think would happen when these kids grew up?

From Mr. Clio

For the first time since Katrina and the levee failures and the governmental failures, the words “We’re outta here” fell from the lips of both Dr. Mrs. Clio and me yesterday. We’re not making any radical moves or anything, but it’s just dark.

And from Editor B, whose writing has been breaking my heart:

I can’t help but feel responsible for your mother’s death. No, I didn’t pull the trigger. That was the act of some deranged individual. But that individual was a product of a society, my society. It was for love of this society that your parents came back against the odds. It was our violent society that killed your mother. I’m so sorry for that betrayal.

9 Comments for 'New Orleans — our own little Baghdad USA'

    January 10, 2007 | 2:15 pm

    Nagin is the wrong man at the wrong time in the wrong place – that much is certain. It’s less certain than anyone could make a difference in N.O. so long as the city is governed according to “peace time” rules.

    It’s also uncertain whether or not N.O. shouldn’t have been razed to the ground; it’s a dubious claim to say that it will be worth the expense.

    January 10, 2007 | 2:21 pm

    …and without invasive and massive intervention, I don’t know what will stop this.

    If we do decide to invade, may I suggest that we find a more competent executioner for Ray Nagin’s hanging?


    January 10, 2007 | 2:41 pm

    Hey, just a thought… are the troops going to need a deck of cards to help them ID the main scoundrels in NOLA when they go in? If so, maybe someone can get a contract to sell them on the civilian market, with the proceeds going to rebuilding NOLA (or at least resettling whoever is left.)

    Of course, I don’t know how useful such a deck of cards would be, since the only possible value for all these folks would be the JOKER…


    January 10, 2007 | 2:59 pm

    Ed — massive intervention under the direction of this particular commander in chief would hardly help in New Orleans… though I very much appreciate the attempt at humor, my friend, because I’m quite beside myself with worry.

    Slate (who I quoted above) has it right, I think: there is perhaps no way to reclaim the lives of some of these insane young people with guns. They’re lost to us. However, I don’t — can’t — accept that nothing can save the city somehow… but unless they replace Nagin, and Riley, and Jordan (the DA), I really don’t know what the answer is.

    I’m sick.

    And I’m not the only one who thinks this same old song and dance ain’t gonna be enough, as this poll running on shows (link).  As I post this, it’s running at nearly 86% “no”.

    January 10, 2007 | 3:24 pm

    There are actually more olice per capita now than before the storm. Of course every time I see them they are either harassig someone nonthreatening or sitting in their police cars readingthe paper and surfing the web. This has, to the observant gotten noticably worse since the Danziger 7 drama began. The NOPD (Not Our Problem Dude) and the DA’s (First word is Dumb, second word unprintable due to commenting policies) are all wrapped up in an adversarial realtionship. Meanwhile the ship continues to go unhelmed as C. Ray (Not Lately) does the worst impersonation of a mayor I’ve seen since Marion Barry got busted for crack.

    The Fight goes on. Ijust want to know why we have to fight our supposed leaders… BTW, I like many I know that were actually here in NOLA, voted for Landrieu.

    January 10, 2007 | 5:47 pm

    Loki — that police per capita thing is very strange. From Nagin to the NY Times, everybody’s repeating that same ole thing: “trying to get the NOPD back up to pre-storm numbers”, and that’s hogwash. Why isn’t anybody in the MSM calling them on this? Other than me, and now your comment, I’ve seen little or nothing.

    I’m so sorry, Loki, that things are going this way. I really, truly am.

    January 10, 2007 | 7:46 pm

    I’m not leaving… Words, Rhetorics or bullets..I’m an old Bohemian and Carpenter. I can’t see myself living in the Suburbs of Houston or Atlanta, etc.. Chris Rose, a Writer for the Times Picayune..says it best

    January 10, 2007 | 8:42 pm

    It is common knowledge here (the per capita thing) and we are going t push it into the public consciousness if we can.It very hard when most of the country seems shocke a the idea that we are not back to normal here. Thank you SO much for being one of the exceptions. Drinks on me if you ever make it down!

    I did want to comment on one ther thing, the idea of a curfew. On the surface it seems a spiffy idea, but none of the crime perpetrated would ahve been affected in the least by one. Really it is more like punishing a child because he got beaten up by the neighborhood bully.

    I will be posting a lot more on this soon on my own blog…

    January 10, 2007 | 9:35 pm

    [...] There Is No Joy In Mudville Polimom Says » New Orleans â our own little Baghdad USA Yesterday, C Ray Nagin popped out of wherever it is he keeps himself these days, and said that âenough is enoughâ; heâs âdrawing a line in the sandâ, and that âone murder is one too manyâ⦠and for the first time since Katrina, I felt despair. [...]

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