Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Bad Day Gets Worse For Ray Nagin

Nagin proclaims in Details

“To me, some of those blogs have become the new sheets for racist people,” Nagin explains when asked why he worked an anti-blog rant into a Katrina memorial. “They’re not marching around with white sheets. They’re on the blogs and in the comments sections.”

It's interesting. He could make the claim that he's not talking about progressive and liberal bloggers critical of his administration but of the racist and incendiary anonymous comments routinely left at, but consider the context. He made these remarks during his speech on the third anniversary of Katrina:

"The most important work we need to do this third anniversary, in spite of the challenges we face this hurricane season, is to learn, ladies and gentlemen, to respect and honor each other -- our diverse culture that is unique to New Orleans. I don't know exactly who is in those coffins, you don't know who is in those coffins, but I will bet you they represent every aspect of this great city. . . .

"So when people talk about their love for this great city, and then you go to a blog, or you read something and it is divisive, it is hateful, it is mean-spirited, my question to you is: How you can you love New Orleans if you don't love all of us?"

Recall that he made these remarks in the same week his administration came under FBI investigation for their degree of culpability in the NOAH scandal. This was also the same week bloggers protested his "Excellence in Recovery Award."

So it is likely that at this point, Mayor Nagin is capable of distinguishing between the bloggers investigating fraud within his administration and the bubbas and bubbettes spewing anonymous hate at the embarrassing website. He just chooses not to make that distinction because it serves him well to lump all of his critics into one metaphoric white-hooded rider.

It's sort of like accusing Councilwoman Stacy Head of "race-baiting" after she dared to question the Sanitation Director about the city's bloated trash pickup contracts.

But the most devastating indictment of this man, our Mayor is at the end of the Details article.

The writer Naomi Klein, in her book The Shock Doctrine, describes actions like those as “disaster capitalism”: profiteering and privatization in the wake of shocks such as 9/11 or Katrina. So when I spot Alan Greenspan’s memoir, The Age of Turbulence, on Nagin’s desk and ask him about it, I’m surprised to learn that he’s not reading it but The Shock Doctrine, which he pulls from his briefcase.

"I understand exactly the premise that they're presenting," Nagin says, holding the book aloft, "that's for sure. Look, man, after this disaster there is big money! The shock-and-awe piece of what they're talking about is absolutely correct." I ask if he's read the chapter in which Klein laments that the public sphere in New Orleans is "being erased, with the storm used as the excuse." Nagin replies cheerily, "I haven't gotten that far! I just picked it up."

Shock Doctrine has a whole chapter about Ray Nagin's post-Katrina New Orleans. You can find some excerpts of that section at one of Ms. Klein's Huffington Post pieces. Essentially, Klein argues that business forces use the shock of disaster to ram through all kinds of goodies for themselves while the actual victims of the disaster are left waiting on their rooftops. It is a scathing denunciation of neoliberalism. It is one of the most strident criticisms of Ray Nagin's recovery philosophy that exists today.

And Ray Nagin is in the middle of reading it, just not the part about him. He's interested in the part where she explains how business forces exploit people, the part he can interpret as a manual that can instruct the rest of his disastrous reign of terror on this great American city.

"Look, man, after this disaster there is big money!"

But he doesn't and didn't need Naomi Klein to tell him how to do it.

He was a natural:

"It is a smorgasbord in New Orleans! It is a buffet, an economic buffet! All you can eat!" he told the crowd. "If you have a lawnmower and an edger, you can make money in New Orleans."

You must be lonely. And that crown must be heavy.

Be well.

1 comment:

Editilla said...

Thanks, Mon.
You have succeeded in making my blood run cold.

Surely you've read her latest in Rolling Stone:

Her continued concern and updated coverage of New Orleans is what I love the most about Naomi Klein, and that is saying a lot.
But... this is like hearing about a ritual clan murder or something and thinking "wait that can't hap.." --oops, errah, well'ummm ...hell.

It just isn't funny anymore when you realize that the birthday clown has a knife stuck in your anus and it is connected to a car battery.