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I Hate Illinois Nazis December 23, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Federal Flood, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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The tale of some residents of Algiers setting up a vigilante militia in the days after Katrina, and one member’s boast that shooting black residents was “like hunting pheasants in South Dakota” ,have swept through the blogs and into the Times-Picayune.

The article is poorly titled “Katrina’s Hidden Race War“. I don’t think a handful of shootings qualifies as a race war. And given that the organizers of this were from out-of-state, I think I like my own headline even better.

Given that we are all forced to live with the rumors of what happened at the Dome and Convention Center, which are largely urban legends unsupported by evidence, I am glad this story has finally surfaced. That is not to say that shootings, car jackings, rapes and other assaults did not occur in the city, but not where people had assembled for safety.

You were much more likely to get shot trying to cross the Danziger Bridge that at the Convention Center.

At one level I’m glad this story came out, if only to try to lay to rest the idea that barbaric behavior after the storm was racial.The asshole from the Gretna P.D. who pointed an assault rifle at the head of an acquaintance’s son as they tried to walk across the bridge to their home in Algiers was as much of an out-of-control animal as whoever torched Oakwood and these white racists from Algiers point.

When civil society breaks down two sets of people come to the fore. The most powerful tale is of the altruists, people like the “Cajun Navy” of sportsman from all over Louisiana who arrived unbidded with their duck boats and other shallow water craft and conducted the majority of rescues in the days after.

The other group are the animals who see an opportunity to run amok. These vigilante’s think of themselves in the same glowing terms as those who made heroic rescues and gestures of relief. They are not. They are among the rabble who ran wild and lawless in the streets, and they deserve to be immortalized along with looters of televisions and shoes and the police on both banks who also run amok.

Read New Orleans Slate’s eyewitness account of life on Algiers Point after the storm.

I hate Illinois Nazis.

Selling Wolf Tickets to Ginny Women August 16, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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N.B. While I understand Carmen’s concern in her comment below that Nagin boosters will dismiss this (I know the dude, and he’s not…), I am determined to move the bar, to make it clear that the word applies to those like Nagin (or Head or the rest of them) who play the card to win.

Times-Picayune editorial writer and columnist Jarvis DeBerry show us he still still a man “in touch with the street”, as old white guys in politics used to say when I was a young white guy in politics. He treats us to a bit of street talk in his Aug. 10 column on Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s latest show of tail feathers over the bloggersourced NOAH scandal. Nagin is, he tells us

A walking embodiment of the black vernacular, he called certain mail critics “ginny women.: He accused others of “selling wolf tickets”….

Sadly, Mr. DeBerry doesn’t bother to explain to us cracker-ass, recovery-hating bloggers what these terms mean. Thank bog for the Internets, that series of tubes which we nattering nabobs of negativism have excavated beneath the city’s recovery like medieval miners trying to fell a castle wall.

Oddly, I found the definition for “ginny woman”, a man who likes to gossip or involve himself in “women’s business”, under the Wikipedia entry for Yat (scroll down to the glossary), a uniquely working class white vernacular. I wonder if all of the Yat’s are supposed to drop using ginny woman now the way blacks stopped saying “brah” for brother the minute the white guys at Kennedy High School took it up.

Selling wolf tickets is more genuinely black vernacular, if the unruly mob behind Wikipedia are to be trusted. Sadly DeBerry missed a grand opportunity for irony in the service of clarify when he didn’t use the Lord Mayor’s own feeble threat to “cold cock” members of the local news media as a living definition. Either that or he ran over his word count, as people who live and die by the column inch must sometimes do when they’re on a roll, and something had to go.

In all fairness, DeBerry and columnist Stephanie Grace deserve full credit for their tag team Sunday columns (his here, her’s here)calling out the mayor. Jumping Nagin is something the Picayune seems very cautious about in its news column. I especially like the part where Stephanie jumped into the ring with the folding chair and whacked Hizzoner upside the head. (OK, that was gratuitous and entirely too much fun to type). Others have analyzed the full dynamic of their one-two punch better than I: Moldy City in particular.

All frustrated newspaper columnist cleverness on my part aside, I have a lot of respect for DeBerry. If I’ve deeply insulted him by any of the above, I apologize and in the same breath suggest he needs to lighten up and get out of the newsroom a little more often. I respect him because he is the child of middle-class Black parents who is an editorial writer at a paper ruled by the white uptown elite in the person of Ashton Phelps, Jr. I am sure DeBerry must walk a very fine line between what he wants to say and what he can or must say if he wants to keep his job, much as the politicians he sometimes writes about must do.

That may be the reason behind the failure of his Sunday column fails. It fails because it starts down a path it does not follow to its logical end. DeBery is in a unique position to speak out to all communities, as an editorialist for a mainstream newspaper who routinely speaks to the Op-Ed reading elite, and as a son of black New Orleans. I think he could call the mayor out on the most important score of all more effectively than my sorry Bunny Bread ass ever can, sitting here typing for an audience of a hundred (on a good day). Still, that is a Rubicon DeBerry has not yet crossed, and perhaps never can with Phelps looking over his shoulder. So once again I’m stuck out here in the wilderness with locusts and honey stuck in my teeth and not so much as a twig in sight, speaking what must be said:

Nagin is a racist.

His use of black street slang isn’t just machismo, as DeBerry suggests. Nagin is speaking in racial code to advance his agenda, circling “his people” around him as a buffer from any criticism. Anyone who so openly panders to one race over the other, who falls back upon the defense that “they” are out to get one of “us”, differs from David Duke in degree and not kind. Speaking in code just makes it worse, more insidious. Were the White Citizen Councils somehow different or better than the Ku Klux Klan? When I say this (or if James Gill or Stephanie Grace try it), well, we’re just them: Exhibit A in the argument that We’re out to get the Brother-In-Chief of the city.

What bullshit.

If you pander to racial divisiveness, you are a racist. It doesn’t matter if you drape yourself in your wife’s best sheets or the lingo of the streets, the game is the same. And that is what Nagin does, just as Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Cynthia Willard-Lewis did with the Inspector General debate When you pack the council with an angry, racial mob to get your way, does it matter if they are black or white? What difference does it make? Not that Nagin or the Cynthias are alone. Stacey Head is not above giving tit-for-tat, publicly disrespecting the other side to curry favor with her own. She is the obverse of the Nagin coin. Her taunting of public housing residents and clash with Tamborine and Fan are equally unacceptable.

What no one in the Times Picayune is likely to step up to say is the one thing that needs most to be said: people who stir up racial division are the ones who do the greatest damage to the recovery, even more than the looters in suits who siphon off recovery money.

Yes, you, C. Ray Nagin. You are not only a racist, you are one of the greatest threats to the city’s recovery. You are what I have railed against since I started blogging back in August 2005 and all through the darkest days of the rest of that dark year, back when I wrote about the Knights of the Invisible Hand, or a year and a half later when I wrote about the inspector general battle.

My position remains the same: We can not afford this. We couldn’t in September 2005, or November 2006 or August 2008. At the one bright moment in the history of the entire slavery-cursed South when everyone in one community had the largest event of their lives in common, were united in solidarity by the flood; when history presented us our Augenblick, our opportunity to seize the day and make the revolution Martin Luther King prophesied, you chose instead to whip it out and piss all over it just to show you’re one of the folk, one of the guys. When you were done you shook the brothers down for all they had in their pockets for your car fare to get uptown and collect your campaign checks, and you laughed all the way to the bank.

What a tremendous accomplishment and legacy. We shall have to erect a statue to you in memory of these times, perhaps where the Liberty Monument once stood, to remind us how you helped to destroy the second reconstruction of New Orleans. We can all look at it and hope that some day we will all join together to pull it down.

Oh, and Mr. Mayor: if you think the bloggers are out to get you, we are. In case you haven’t noticed, the NOLA Bloggeres are out to get anyone who threatens or interferes with the recovery. FYYFF.

Torchlight parade down St. Chares Avenue to honor Harry Lee January 18, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Carnival, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, NOLA, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Did this really happen? Could anyone be this stupid? The notoriously racist Harry Lee, deceased sheriff of suburban Jefferson Parish, to be honored by the Bacchus Parade?

This item appeared then quickly disappeared from the New Orleans Times-Picayune NOLA.Com newsfeed. I like to think it was a prank, but perhaps someone thought better of it: for example, the N.O.P.D who would have to contain the crowds closer to downtown that would as like as not wrest away a flambeaux torch and and toss it onto the float.

This is a brilliant idea. Parade an effigy of a man noted for his racist views through uptown New Orleans. Were they hoping to provoke a race riot? Or were they just terminally stupid? Was this to be a torchlight parade? Would it feature a burning cross?

Bacchus to announce Harry Lee tribute today

by The Times-Picayune

Thursday January 17, 2008, 9:07 AM

The Krewe of Bacchus will announce today plans to pay tribute to the late Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee.

The announcement will be made at a 4 p.m. news conference attended by Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand; Lee’s widow, Lai Lee; daughter, Cynthia Lee Sheng; executive members of the Krewe of Bacchus along with Mardi Gras artist Michael Hunt.

Update: No, I guess it wasn’t a prank or a terrible mistake. What a grand way to start off the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial weekend.