Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Frank Gorshen was Left

I hate to admit that the simplistic cartoonish view of Gene Roddenberry was right but he seems to have nailed it.

Frank Gorshen

I've tried to stay away from race in New Orleans as everybody else has. That I think is the problem. Everyone wants to slide by. Nobody wants to make waves. Nobody wants to create a problem.

Everyone should watch the Star Trek episode 70 "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield". Which side are you on?

It seriously reflects on our situation in New Orleans (As an aside one of the characters is named Lokai).

Bele and Lokai

In New Orleans there are three races. They are the Whites, the Blacks and the Politicians.

For at least 140 years, probably longer, the Politicians have played the Whites and the Blacks against each other to maintain power. Politicians may have changed complexion but that is mere substitution. The game remains. The people both Black and White are being fleeced by the Politicians.

Martin Luther King famously said;
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C., on August 28, 1963.
Why have his successors forgotten this simple measure, to look beyond a persons skin and look, as well as you can, into their character? I have always believed that you should always credit the other person with honest motives and if you disagree, as honest people can, attack the validity of their views, not the person.

I also believe that you should not be stupid. As Peter Finley Dunn said;
Trust everybody, but [always] cut the cards.
I am disappointed to observe that we seldom have real debates in our political system any more. We now have contests where no advantage is too small and no trick is too dirty. The only discussion is how much money to this or that group, not what to do with the money. The personal has displaced the principle. Spoils have displaced ideas.

Later, as Dr. King moved from racial equity to economic equity as his primary focus he said;
If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.

Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967.
If someone wants to become Politician, why should that person not strive to fulfill the responsibilities of the office as well as they can? Why should any Politician seek personal aggrandizement at the expense of their constituents.

The voters have been played time and time again. Clarence Ray Nagin was sold as "the best possible alternate", all of the Whites voted for him. After his first term he became the savior of the Blacks, all of the Blacks voted for him. As far as I can tell Clarence has been looking for his next gig ever since he was re-elected.

Demographics dictated that Harry Connick would be replaced by a Black DA, predictably we got a member of the Third Race, an incompetent attorney, a Politician hand picked by a corrupt machine.

I'm not a native of New Orleans, although I've lived here more than thirty years, far longer than I've lived anywhere else. LOnger than most voters. I don't understand why the Blacks and the Whites who share so much can't bridge the gap and make this city what it aught to be.

I've never understood why the hordes of Politicians here seem to have so much influence. I can only conclude there is a cult of personality and power which leads people to seek the favor of politicians when it should not be necessary. A cult of power where politicians seek control beyond their normal sphere.

I think a lot of it is sham. It's the Soprano method, you take advantage of people by intimidation and innuendo. Seldom do they need to actually do anything, just give the impression of doing something and occasionally giving an object lesson.

I lived in New Orleans while the City developed a corpus of Moratorium Law, more that 200 specific moratoriums on all manner of endeavors that required the supplicants to appear before the political potentates and offer up sacrifices. I can remember several telling incidents.

I can clearly recall a former city councilman berating supplicants for "not coming around to see him", before the council meeting. Why that should have been necessary is beyond me. I can recall political coronations as well known and well connected members of the elite were granted special favors. The whole process was unseemly, distasteful and on TV.

The Blacks seem to have been convinced they need protection from the Whites. That any attack on any Black is an attack on all, regardless of the validity of the charge. Racial solidarity is more important than Truth.

Yet I look around and there is no dearth of Black people in power in New Orleans. Either all public officials are race traitors or they are the tools of the White establishment. How else can you explain the need for protection?

One possible explanation is the the Politicians have a finely tuned ability to manipulate their constituents emotions for their personal benefit, much like sexual predators.

The same game was played with Whites in the fifties and sixties. Apparently some Whites still blame Moon Landrieu for bowing to the forces of demographics. They must be idiots not to have seen it coming and even more stupid not to have reconciled themselves to the demographic reality. The Isle of Denial has serious meaning.

When will the current power structure in New Orleans take some responsibility to cleanse itself?

If you look at the failed institutions in New Orleans from Public Housing to Public Schools to Criminal Justice there is no lack of Black people in charge, yet there are precious few Black officials willing to stand up and call a spade a spade.

I just want to be a New Orleanian.


Pistolette said...

I was born and raised here, and it has always been the same. Whites and blacks typically do not trust each other here. No matter how cynical or optimistic I've tried to be over the years I know that roughly 90% of the time, if I get in a line attended by a white person they will be nice to me (i'm white) and mean to the black person behind me, but if I get in a line attended by a black person they will be mean to me and nice to the black person behind me. *sigh*

I've run it through my head so many times - is it because the city/state is so poorly educated? Is our culture simply inferior in this dept? Is it truly because the politicians constantly play the race card and exacerbate the situation? All I know is, when blacks gained majority power of New Orleans the only thing their politicians proved was that they were just as corrupt, vindictive, and unprogressive as the whites before them.

oyster said...

I appreciate Mominem's honest sentiments about race/power/New Orleans... but sometimes I cringe when they are (in my view) clumsily expressed.

For example:

"there are precious few Black officials willing to stand up and call a spade a spade."

I'm assuming that phrasing ("spade") was unintentional, right?

There's a ton of subtopics and issues mentioned here without a lot of extended analysis, so it's tough for me to briefly comment here. And there are far too many generalizations for my taste: "everybody" this, and "nobody" that....

I think I get your basic point, and I do respect the "problem" of "race" in New Orleans, and agree that it merits an honest and open and in-depth discussion.

I would say that it's too easy to say that politicians are a different race. No, they are merely people who have the talent and willingness to play the same damn longstanding "game" that reliably garners votes-- play on the fears of whites or blacks.

Politicians are people too, and it's perhaps too easy to blame "them" for operating in a system that most citizens tolerate. After all, you've heard the saying that "in a democracy voters get the leaders they deserve". Well, what does that say about us?

I hope more folks comment on this post, and a helpful discussion is generated.

The long, long road home,New Orleans said...

You said it (chocolate city anyone???)

Growing up here I notice the distust between races goes both ways and politicians absolutely play on that.

mominem said...

I held off responding for a few days to see if anyone would respond to this post.

This post has been knocking around in various forms for several months.

The reference to "calling a spade a spade" was originally spontaneous. I initially recoiled from the repercussions. I came to embrace it, as a sort of purgative,

As I researched the origins of the phrase it became clear that it had no racial overtones. Apparently the was introduced into the English language in the 16th century from Greek ascendants.

It wasn't until 1928 the word "spade" became a slang reference for the then currently accepted terms "colored" or "Negro". I'm still not sure it was ever exclusively derogatory. I have only occasionally heard the term used in conversation and never in the derogatory sense, as opposed to the slang use.

As far as the clumsy expression. I'd prefer a direct clumsy expression to a glib nonresponse or no respnse at all, which is what we usually get.

I stand behind everything I wrote.

If there are a ton of responses and anyone disagrees with any of them, let's choose up sides and debate. I would probably loose but someone (including me) might learn something.

I'm angry that the political class including their attendants (both Black and White) failed to address their obvious responsibilities.

The failure of the established press to call them out is for me evidence they were implicitly involved.