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Perhaps the people of New Orleans can appreciate the irony of Ray Nagin and his outbursts, but it doesn't appear to play very well on a national stage. Nagin managed a daily double of foot-in-mouth disease today, first by declaring that hurricanes were God's punishment for the war in Iraq and also unnamed sins of the black community, and then used Martin Luther King Day to declare that New Orleans would once again be a "chocolate city":
Mayor Ray Nagin suggested Monday that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that "God is mad at America" and at black communities, too, for tearing themselves apart with violence and political infighting.
"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.
"Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves."
Nagin also promised that New Orleans will be a "chocolate" city again. Many of the city's black neighborhoods were heavily damaged by Katrina.
If that kind of rhetoric had come from the mouth of Pat Robertson -- and if we wait a few days, it just might! -- the national news media would have pilloried him for being a racist and a Christian extremist. In fact, the notion of Robertson equating hurricane activity to God's wrath over whatever bothers Robertson most at the moment generated a Dateline Hollywood satire involving Ellen DeGeneres, one that was so believable that Snopes felt forced to debunk it.
As far as being a "chocolate city", one of the strengths of New Orleans as an American city has been its diversity, or so we have heard from its citizens. Black, white, brown, yellow, red -- all live together in relative harmony in the Crescent City. Are we to understand now that some of its citizens will not be welcomed back with equal enthusiasm? Of course not -- but Nagin certainly makes it sound that way. Of all days to make that pronouncement, the day celebrating a man martyred for the cause of a color-blind society gives Nagin's pronouncement an added dimension of stupidity.
Nagin will likely escape mainstream media abuse over his impolitic statements, but if so, then the media should ask themselves why it holds Nagin less responsible for his speech than it does a certifiable nut like Pat Robertson.Sphere It View blog reactions
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