Monday, August 28, 2006

New Orleans is sinking, man

George is back in New Orleans. I wonder what he has to say to those people; the ones who reside temporarily in toxic trailers surrounded by razor wire in prison-like FEMAville. And the others, struggling to eke out an existence in the moldy remains of the homes still standing. And the one-third of the former population that's gone forever, who won't, or can't, return. What do you say to the denizens of a dead city?

I scrolled through some posts about New Orleans on the msnbc message board, and I was shocked at what people were saying. Outside of the inhabitants of NO, hardly anyone gave a damn and most said they were "sick of hearing about New Orleans". That it should be flushed right out and turned into a huge port, or just left to be "returned to nature". That it had been a "dirty and sinful place" anyway, no great loss. Nobody wanted "their tax money" wasted on it. And this was the mainstream msnbc board, not some radical right wing nazi nutcase website.

Over the last several months I've often wondered why NO has been allowed to stagnate, why the rebuilding has been so slow and fraught with problems. Now it's obvious: few outside of the people of New Orleans even want the city back. Those that do want it back don't have the resources or energy to make it happen, since just keeping body and soul together must take everything they've got. Rebuilding their city is something they probably don't even dare to dream about.

So as bizarre as it sounds, New Orleans may be allowed to just expire. And, apart from the humanitarian tragedy, the loss of a city as vibrant and unique as New Orleans is awful because it brings America that much closer to being one great big Walmart... but maybe that's what people want.