Friday, April 10, 2009

This is awesome

You'll need to be able to listen to the sound. But you have to have to have to check this out.

Bravo to the Perry campaign for the frank discussion - I just hope you can make the rest of the city notice. (Nary a mention in this WWL election preview.)

Content aside, what a fabulous online media model they've got at FLYP magazine. Very impressive. They won me over and I'll be going back.

10 comments:

DAMIAN said...

So I read it. Where was the "frank discussion"?

"They saw white ... leaders oppose the rebuilding of the most damaged parts of the city, which had been predominantly poor and African American."

Not true; monetary losses among the races were approximately equal, as has been established for some time. The poor were less able to return (because they were poor; it's a truism), not disproportionately damaged. What we have here is a repetition of the discredited TV Guide version of the history of Katrina: un-nuanced, misleading, and factually wrong.

Strike one.

"They saw ... politics degenerate into virtually non-stop combat ... split along racial lines." With a link to the argument over the transparency bill the city council is pushing against Nagin.

As American Zombie so eloquently pointed out a few days ago, this council-mayor flap is being PORTRAYED as a race war, when actually it is a political/culture war between identifiable factions with various motives. Some people are playing a race card to cynically strengthen their positions. Race does play a role, but only idiots who have no deeper understanding of the issue would portray it so shallowly and with such a broad brush. Can the Meffert/White/Head/Nagin situation be disassembled along racial lines? No? Then what the hell is Flyp magazine implying with that link? They're making huge statements and not backing a word of it up with thoughtful analysis. It's an insult to those who have followed this story carefully.

Strike two.

"In short, New Orleans is caught in a struggle for power between the races..."

Is that really so? Isn't that AT BEST a misleading caricature of post Katrina New Orleans? The HBO Movie Version of the Cliff's notes version of the truth? If it IS true, does that mean that Mayor Nagin, Chief Riley, and former DA Jordan were at war with the white residents of the city? Is Jim Letten at war with Veronica White, but willing to ignore the wrongdoing of Meffert? Will Cannizzaro foster a worse DA/Police relationship than Jordan did, because they're different races? Attempting to analyze our political leaders by race is a generally unenlightening approach. The model of racial struggle breaks down, though (as Zombie pointed out) racial rhetoric as a manipulative tool and CULTURE struggle remain.

It's one thing to note that New Orleans has racial issues. It's another thing to try to use those issues as the defining characteristic of the city's recovery, especially while portraying them as a zero-sum game of winner-take-all.

Strike three.

"Can he sell his Obama-like post-racial politics to all those angry voters?"

Frankly, from the tone of this article, that doesn't sound ANYTHING like what he's offering. A post-racial candidate WON'T SPEND ALL HIS TIME TALKING ABOUT RACE. Duh! Obama won over huge numbers of whites and blacks by pointing out (correctly) that his race wasn't AT ALL a factor in his worthiness as a candidate, just as Hillary Clinton's gender wasn't a factor. That's what "post-race" means.

I don't want to attribute to Perry the weak, 2-years-out-of-date racial musings of this Flyp article. For all I know, Perry is a great guy. But this article is just dumb.

It makes a number of assertions that Clancy DuBos refuted just this week, and that the most recent bout of judicial elections are inconsistent with.

See here: http://blogofneworleans.com/blog/2009/04/05/thoughts-on-orleans-jefferson-elections/

and here: http://blogofneworleans.com/blog/2009/04/06/ready-for-another-paradigm-shift/

I'm sick of these 2-dimensional representations of local politics as a black-versus-white struggle. It's inaccurate, inflammatory, distracting, and doesn't solve anything.

You need a finer scalpel if you want to dissect the question of race in New Orleans. Flyp applied a hammer, with unsurprisingly messy results.

Anonymous said...

I hate Flash-embedded content. It makes me crazy.

Damian provides some provocative analysis. Can't say I disagree. It was weird how the Flypping story appeared to be conflating New Orleans housing projects, specifically, the St. Bernard Housing Development, with the policies of St. Bernard Parish. It reduces the credibility of the whole thing.

WWL isn't the only forum where Perry was astonishly ignored. A recent episode of Greater New Orleans with Eric Asher and the pedantic Jeff Crouere overlooked Perry in their list of candidates.

MAD said...

I do not know who what the FLYP this is or pretends to be. But it is not is journalism, though it may be a cleverly disguised campaign ad. The content is mostly a crock, as Damian forcefully points out better than can I.
Race is a complicated subject, and not an issue that is best served by such a sophomoric treatment as this.
James Perry will not be taken seriously until he gets beyond
race and can show that he has a broad comprehension of the many important issues facing this city.

DAMIAN said...

To be absolutely clear, I was criticizing Flyp, not Perry. His quotes were straightforward boilerplate campaign material, and I don't think the article says anything conclusive about him one way or the other... there just isn't anything there.

I don't know much about him as a candidate, and as I hear more from him, I'll form an opinion based on that. If this Flyp piece WAS some sort of guerrilla marketing, I'd have to say that my first impression of Perry has been very poor.

But given the fact that the magazine went on to talk about a number of other topics (I saw one article on ocean power generation), I doubt it was a campaign item.

I think it was just a straight-up interview/profile written by someone wearing an ideological straitjacket with at best a vague understanding of New Orleans politics.

Anonymous said...

E, you got such a job cut out for you with your readers. It's dumbfounding to think that James Reiss in the Wall Street Journal can announce to the world that he and a self-appointed group of wealthy white folks are planning the New Orleans of the future (and admit in Newsweek that means making the city whiter)--and get themselves appointed to the BNOBC and then deliver a plan to demolish the black community, and these bloggers can't figure out how race plays into New Orleans politics?

What most of what these bloggers are mad about is the analysis, not what Perry says. I think they rather like that Perry blames the racial distrust on Nagin (we should point out that James Reiss was essentailly Nagin's boss 2002-2005--he bankrolled his election and demanded the Dallas meeting and got it) yet Nagin, unlike the majority of the white community, rejected the BNOBC plan. The Times-Picayune and New York Times to this day fault Nagin for "folding under pressure" and not accepting the plan.

The blame for the plan to demolish the black community rest with the majority of whites who supported it or remained silent about it--which is even worse.

DAMIAN said...

"E, you got such a job cut out for you with your readers. It's dumbfounding to think that James Reiss in the Wall Street Journal can announce to the world that he and a self-appointed group of wealthy white folks are planning the New Orleans of the future (and admit in Newsweek that means making the city whiter)--and get themselves appointed to the BNOBC and then deliver a plan to demolish the black community, and these bloggers can't figure out how race plays into New Orleans politics?"

If you're referring to me, Anonymous (you know, it's not hard to identify oneself on these forums... you can just sign your name to your posts if you don't want to create a login), I never said that race doesn't play into New Orleans politics, and I never said that I can't figure out how race plays into New Orleans politics.

I said the Flyp article paints a two-dimensional picture of racial politics, filled with sweeping generalizations and factual inaccuracies. I would love for a national publication to write a thoughtful, balanced, piercing critique of race relations in New Orleans, one that does not portray blacks as drug-addled welfare criminals nor whites as money grabbing KKK members who are gleefully seeding black neighborhoods with dynamite. These idiotic caricatures hurt race relations by demonizing "the other," and offer neither understanding nor reconciliation. I'm just sick of them.

"What most of what these bloggers are mad about is the analysis, not what Perry says. I think they rather like that Perry blames the racial distrust on Nagin (we should point out that James Reiss was essentailly Nagin's boss 2002-2005--he bankrolled his election and demanded the Dallas meeting and got it) yet Nagin, unlike the majority of the white community, rejected the BNOBC plan. The Times-Picayune and New York Times to this day fault Nagin for "folding under pressure" and not accepting the plan."

I don't blame "racial distrust" on Nagin, though I think he's been awfully quick to tar those who oppose his administration as "racists", which doesn't help. Racial distrust has always existed in New Orleans (and most places on Earth); it predates Nagin and will probably postdate him.

And you're right: What Perry said was non-offensive, meaningless campaign boilerplate ("we've got to move past race and rebuild together..." well hell, who could disagree with that?); it did not offend me at all. I would hesitate to describe the rest of the article as "analysis", but what was there was practically worthless, and WAS offensive.

As for the BNOBC plan, I reject all non-emergency use of eminent domain (and am skeptical even of emergency use), so obviously, I opposed portions of the BNOBC plan that involved seizing people's property for nefarious state purposes. I DO recognize that rebuilding the city's lowest neighborhoods is fraught with engineering peril, and that goes for the Lower 9th Ward and Lakeview and most of Metairie and New Orleans East. It's not a racial position; it's a scientific one.

Also, Anon, you're introducing James Reiss into the discussion, but I don't recall him appearing anywhere in the Flyp article. Criticizing James Reiss is all well and good (see a one-sided but well-researched and meticulously argued example here: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060410/davis/3), But this article couldn't even be bothered to get that specific. It's the sloppy, broad, useless language of the article that irritates me.

"The blame for the plan to demolish the black community rest with the majority of whites who supported it or remained silent about it--which is even worse."

When you say "the black community", I know that's a euphemism for something, but I can't tell what. It's hard to know what I'm supposed to feel guilty for being silent about when the accusations are so vague. I already said I oppose the use of eminent domain for urban planning; I said the same thing in 2005. If blacks in Gert Town and whites in Fat City want to rebuild in the city's lowest areas, I support and applaud their determination. It's engineers' job to study the environment to calculate those people's risk, and explain the costs they can expect to incur as a result; the decision rests with them. I don't want to demolish anyone's communities. You're railing against something you perceived in my comment, not anything you actually read there.

E said...

I totally agree with Anonymous on this one. I was very frustrated and depressed by the ill-informed commentary I found here starting on Friday evening. Damian your facts, particularly in your first comment, are either selective or inaccurate. I will try to write a more detailed response later in a separate post. I was truly disturbed by this.

DAMIAN said...

E, feel free to disagree with me, but I think the least I can ask is that you're as specific and careful as I am. Which of my statements is inaccurate? Which is selective?

I don't apologize for being selective; in fact, I try to be enormously selective, but if anything I said was "inaccurate", I'll retract it.

Anonymous said...

Fist, that is my name --"anonymous". I have a distinct identity on this blog by that name and I like that. Indeed, I get peeved when other people use my name "anonymous." They should log in as "Biff."

Damien, great if you opposed the BNOBC plan. You can count on one hand the number of local white people who did so--in the public and not simply on a blog that was selectively viewed. Just as you can count on one hand the number of local whites who marched in protest against the Crescent City bridge blockade. And you can count on one hand the number of local whites who marched against the RSD or protested against the racist treatement of SUNO (I'd love to get to use my other hand some day). We've given blacks every reason to believe the white community is of one mind. And yes, Jimmy Reiss belongs in the middle of the discussion because he controlled Ray Nagin, not the other way around, and candidates for Mayor who are going to assign blame need to get the names, dates, and places right (starting with Reiss and the Dallas meeting).

As far as using "safety from flooding" as a criteria of rebuilding, that's the "above sea-level" argument of the Audubon crowd that they used to rationalize a plan to make the city whiter.

No part of New Orleans is safe: at the end of April there will be a 16foot wall of water above your head surrounding uptown, traveling at one million cubit feet per second. The Mississippi river levee is not failsafe (indeed, it's built at a 1-500 year event)--I saw a portion of it collapsed in Westwego in the 1980s. A breach of the levee in April at the bend would wipe out all of Uptown. So let's stop this false dichotomy of safe and unsafe places to build. We are all guarded by levees--good ones or bad ones--and the bad ones need to be built right rather than demolish the neighborhoods as punishment for bad engineering.

DAMIAN said...

"Fist, that is my name --"anonymous". I have a distinct identity on this blog by that name and I like that. Indeed, I get peeved when other people use my name "anonymous." They should log in as "Biff.""

Ok, Anonymous, if you want me to call you that, I will. It leaves me little choice but to attribute to you everything anyone says who logs in as "anonymous", which I think is sloppy and will lead to misunderstandings, but if that's how you like it... maybe you could start your posts with "The Big Anon", to avoid confusion.

If we're going to be pedantic about names, my name is DamiAn (with two a's) Tatum. I have no compunction about posting with my real name; I'm not embarrassed about my views and welcome the chance to share them with a critical, but hopefully respectful, audience of my peers.

"Damien (sic), great if you opposed the BNOBC plan. You can count on one hand the number of local white people who did so--in the public and not simply on a blog that was selectively viewed. Just as you can count on one hand the number of local whites who marched in protest against the Crescent City bridge blockade. And you can count on one hand the number of local whites who marched against the RSD or protested against the racist treatement of SUNO (I'd love to get to use my other hand some day)."

First off, let me point out that we're getting a bit far afield. I was criticizing the Flyp article that E, to my puzzlement, recommended so highly. I'm not trying to defend the white community of New Orleans' sense of civic involvement. I'm not trying to attack the black community's choices of protest topics. The topic at hand was an article in Flyp Magazine, which so far I seem to be the only person interested in talking about, specifically.

You seem determined to expand or deflect this discussion to broader matters, but for the moment, at least, in this comment section following this blog post, I'd rather be a bit more specific. I brought up a number of flaws in the article, which no one has yet replied to. By ignoring my substantive points and attacking the BNOBC plan, as if my post had been a long paean to it (in fact, I never mentioned it), you give me the sense that you're not really reading what I'm saying.

It seems like you're fighting some other battle with some other person who isn't here.

So I don't want to get diverted, but let me make one point about the racial participation in the marches you alluded to. You can feel free to answer this criticism; I know I'm opening a can of worms. In 2003, I marched in the Washington DC and New York antiwar protests, which were the largest in the United States at that time. My views were pretty simple: Iraq did not represent a military threat to the United States, and the US didn't have a right to wage preemptive war. War would be foolish and counterproductive and immoral. Simple. While I was there, I saw huge throngs of anarchists, socialist party members, Palestinian Liberation operatives, Libertarian Party organizers, MoveOn, and on and on. Those groups often were not carrying Iraq war banners; they were carrying banners for their own causes, which had little to do with Iraq.

What's my point? I felt manipulated. When you turn up at a public protest, you're at risk of being used as a prop by groups whose motives you don't share, whose methods you abhor, or whose message you disagree with.

Marching is risky business.

I've marched in a number of events here in New Orleans, mostly those opposed to violence. Larger profile events, like the bridge march, I avoid, because I don't control the message at that event. I opposed the closing of the bridge during Katrina; any proper civil libertarian should. It was a breach of constitutional rights, and blatantly illegal. I've said that "in public" (I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "in the public and not simply on a blog that was selectively viewed"; all blogs are selectively viewed. I've said it while standing outdoors; does that fulfill your definition of public? Should I have had my press secretary release a position paper?). But I wouldn't have felt comfortable joining the march you mentioned, as it occurred, because I don't want to be associated with people who use race as a bludgeon. If your only standard for judging people's support for certain positions is the turnout at marches, I think you're skewing your perspective. There may be more effective ways to gauge popular sentiment.

Also, I don't think the bridge debacle belongs in the same category as the RSD or the BNOBC. Three very different phenomena.

OK, diversion over.

"We've given blacks every reason to believe the white community is of one mind. And yes, Jimmy Reiss belongs in the middle of the discussion because he controlled Ray Nagin, not the other way around, and candidates for Mayor who are going to assign blame need to get the names, dates, and places right (starting with Reiss and the Dallas meeting)."

I know that there was a lot of Flash content to wade through on Flyp, but I didn't see any mention of Reiss or Dallas in that article. Did I miss something? If Reiss belongs in the discussion (a point I'm not arguing against; I linked to an article that gave a more thorough accounting of that topic in The Nation, and did a decent job of it), then why are you defending an article that DIDN'T mention him? Unless I missed some sort of Flash pull down menu, or something, in which case please help me find it.

You're making my point for me: In every meaningful way, that article skimmed over complicated situations and made simplistic, bombastic, unconstructive generalizations. Hence my dissatisfaction.

"As far as using "safety from flooding" as a criteria of rebuilding, that's the "above sea-level" argument of the Audubon crowd that they used to rationalize a plan to make the city whiter. No part of New Orleans is safe: at the end of April there will be a 16foot wall of water above your head surrounding uptown, traveling at one million cubit feet per second. The Mississippi river levee is not failsafe (indeed, it's built at a 1-500 year event)--I saw a portion of it collapsed in Westwego in the 1980s. A breach of the levee in April at the bend would wipe out all of Uptown. So let's stop this false dichotomy of safe and unsafe places to build. We are all guarded by levees--good ones or bad ones--and the bad ones need to be built right rather than demolish the neighborhoods as punishment for bad engineering."

I most CERTAINLY did NOT use "safety from flooding" as a criteria for rebuilding. Did you even read what I wrote? I specifically said that everyone has the right to rebuild on their land, no matter the elevation. I said only that they should know the risks. Those risks include failure of a river levee, dooming most of the city, and failure of lake and canal walls, which have more localized and manageable effects. Different areas have different risks; it's not controversial. Frankly, your last paragraph indicates you should go back and re-read what I wrote more carefully. Where on earth did I say that people in lower areas have ANY reduced right to rebuild? I was emphatic that they have EVERY right to do so. Where did I promote a dichotomy of "safe" and "unsafe" places? Where did I advocate demolishing neighborhoods as "punishment for bad engineering"? Where are you getting this stuff?

Again, I think you're responding to someone else, making some other argument, who isn't on this board right now. I ask you to please read what I'm saying and respond to me, and stop coming up with non-sequitur arguments and putting them in my mouth.

It's very distracting, Anonymous.

Cheers,
Damian