Through my eye

A sometimes caustic view of things.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans has always been lawless

Cops in New Orleans began resigning yesterday when they were asked to go into the flooded streets to quell looters. One was reported saying, “I didn’t sign up to get shot at.”

It is to laugh. This is the same police force that cooperates with Hollywood film companies who want to use New Orleans for location shooting of films about New Orleans police corruption. That cooperation requires the consolation of cash, of course.

A woman in the midst of refugees in the Superdome asks a cop for help. The quoted answer, “Go to hell, lady. It’s every man for himself.”

A talking head on cable news calls the Big Easy a “third world city.”

News Flash: It always has been. As lovable as it is, as fun as it can be, New Orleans has always been a lawless and dangerous place where the tourists are milked lovingly and kept safe as long as they stay in the tourist areas. But stray outside the French Quarter and the American sector to the vicinity of the projects and you become fair game.

I used to live in Biloxi and visited New Orleans frequently. I subscribed to the Times-Picayune. I had great food and good strong coffee all over the city. I never went anywhere in the town without being armed, it was just common sense.

There was a story in the paper that illustrates my point. One of the famous cemeteries is across a street from a housing project. A group of academics were visiting to study the culture represented by the tombs. They had a photographer with them to capture the more significant pieces of artwork and epitaphs. From across the street, out of the projects, came a couple of skinny black teenagers, one of them carrying a shiny, long-barreled, pistol.

The paper quoted one of the academics, “We wondered aloud, ‘what was he planning to do with that gun?’”

It didn’t take long to find out. He demanded their money, watches, jewelry and camera equipment. Then he and his companion went cheerfully back into the project like B’rer Rabbit into the briar patch.

Now, like Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Detroit, New Orleans has had a succession of black mayors. Rightfully so, since most of their cities have black majorities. In New Orleans, however, you will have noted a significant reluctance on the part of its present mayor to declare martial law and bring it under control. To do so would be to prevent the people who voted for him from behaving as they wish.

There may not be a New Orleans, if things don’t get under control, but no matter to the mayor because if it does recover he’ll still need to be reelected. He can’t crack down. It would have to be up the governor.

Not surprisingly, the government of Louisiana, and its elected officials, are in the same boat as the mayor of New Orleans. Famed for their corruption, famed for their use of black voters to return their corrupt leaders to office year after year; the state can’t come to grips with the crisis that faces them. It’ll have to be the president who calls the shots.

Except for one little detail, the president is powerless until the state formally asks for the federal government to take over.

No one in power at this point wants to do what has to be done to restore order in New Orleans. The Big Easy cops aren’t trained for it, it doesn’t involve bribery and payoffs. Even the National Guard in Louisiana isn’t prepared for shooting their own people.

It’s going to take martial law and regular troops of armored infantry to take back New Orleans. The cry of “Racism” will pop out of the mouths of all the newscasters now calling for a resolution. They’ll even have the gall to say they meant a “peaceful” resolution, not blood flowing in the streets.


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