Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Friday, August 14, 2015

Do you know what it means, to miss New Orleans?

Gotham's time has come. Like Constantinople or Rome before it the city has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice. It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die. This is the most important function of the League of Shadows. It is one we've performed for centuries. Gotham... must be destroyed.--Ra's Al Ghul, "Batman Begins"
It's behind a paywall so I can't link to the Kristen McQueary op-ed about New Orleans.  I have to rely on the Salon article about it, and I'll stick to direct quotes as much as possible.  But I will note that both "Batman Begins" and Hurricane Katrina entered the world in the same year: 2005.  And the central evil of the plot of that movie was the idea that in order to save a city from its moral decay, most of the inhabitants of that city had to die.

This was, quite reasonably, seen as an evil which could not be allowed.

But Kristen McQueary argues that the residents of New Orleans benefited from such an apocalyptic purging.  After all the, the city got:

“[a] new mayor [who] slashed the city budget, forced unpaid furloughs, cut positions, detonated labor contracts[,]” making “New Orleans’ City Hall leaner and more efficient.”
And the cost in human life and suffering that goes on to this day?  Hey, totally worth it!  You don't think she means that?

“I can relate, metaphorically, to the residents of New Orleans climbing onto their rooftops and begging for help and waving their arms and lurching toward rescue helicopters.” She did, literally, write that. But she went one step further, arguing that her plight is more desperate than those in New Orleans because “here, no one responds to the SOS messages painted boldly in the sky.”
Ra's Al Ghul suddenly looks a bit less monstrous.  After all, he was only a fictional character in a fictional town.

11 Comments:

Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

I went looking for more about McQueary and found this blog post that points out that Arne Duncan said something similar as did Milton Friedman.

http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/2015/08/mcquearys-disaster-capitalism-fantasy.html

The evil of oligarchic indifference to poor people, their lives, isn't restricted to one party. I think it's one of the major scandals of the legally scandal free Obama administration that he could have had someone like Arne Duncan as Sec. of Education. It's appalling that he didn't insist on his resignation over the statement he made.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Good grief. These people make the villains in a comic-book movie look humane by comparison.

11:23 AM  
Blogger June Butler said...

With my magic touch, I was able to get behind the paywall to the very beginning of the op-ed to find this.

Envy isn't a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

But with Aug. 29 fast approaching and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu making media rounds, including at the Tribune Editorial Board, I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.

That's what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans. Chaos. Tragedy. Heartbreak.


Rational maybe, but a tad evil? Her column is all about money. Leadership won't right the ship in Chicago, but mass destruction will? None of the nearly 2000 dead people in New Orleans enjoy the benefits from the mass destruction, and many still struggle mightily with the after-affects of the tragedy, but, ya know, whatever it takes to pay down the debt....

12:13 PM  
Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

June Butler, not to mention that it is an assertion that democracy doesn't work. That the media is a lot of the problem as to why democracy fails, why the rich and connected can destroy wetlands, construct insane dams holding toxic water from industrial and agricultural pollution. If democracy has failed, it failed from the top down, starting with courts, legislatures and governors, mayors and city councils being willingly corrupted. After decades of that The People being indifferent is a rational conclusion to come to. And, from everything I've read, Louisiana and New Orleans had some of the most corrupt officials in the country.

That could be said for Chicago, as well. The courts and lawmakers enable corruption, the courts could have done something about it but they are as corrupt. As can be seen in Duncan and Friedman and thousands of others in academic circles, they are part of the corruption, too.

12:55 PM  
Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

June Butler, not to mention that it is an assertion that democracy doesn't work. That the media is a lot of the problem as to why democracy fails, why the rich and connected can destroy wetlands, construct insane dams holding toxic water from industrial and agricultural pollution. If democracy has failed, it failed from the top down, starting with courts, legislatures and governors, mayors and city councils being willingly corrupted. After decades of that The People being indifferent is a rational conclusion to come to. And, from everything I've read, Louisiana and New Orleans had some of the most corrupt officials in the country.

That could be said for Chicago, as well. The courts and lawmakers enable corruption, the courts could have done something about it but they are as corrupt. As can be seen in Duncan and Friedman and thousands of others in academic circles, they are part of the corruption, too.

12:56 PM  
Blogger June Butler said...

The pre-Katrina failing public school system in NO was so firmly entrenched that no agency, city or state, seemed able (or willing?) to improve results, so, in that one sense, public education improved. The improvements came at the expense of introducing a charter school system, which has been a decidedly mixed bag. Scores and graduation rates improved, but not all of the charter schools provided quality education, and some were complete failures.

And corrupt government. Also poverty and inequality, which is at the root of many of the problems in inner cities.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

June--don't neglect the narrative of all the "bad people" who fled Katrina and wound up in Houston. That's part of the mix of what "fixed" New Orleans, because quite a few people who left (for Houston or elsewhere) didn't return.

So that "cleaned up" the city, too; according to some people.

1:44 PM  
Blogger June Butler said...

Yes, indeed. New Orleans got rid of the "bad people" who left and never returned. As Barbara Bush said, they were underprivileged anyway, and the Astrodome worked very well for them, so well that they decided Houston was the Promised Land.

1:53 PM  
Blogger June Butler said...

Rmj, I thought you'd like to know McQueary scrubbed the most offensive sections of her op-ed and issued a non-apology apology.

Many readers thought my premise — through my use of metaphor and hyperbole — was out of line. I certainly hear you. I am reading your tweets and emails. And I am horrified and sickened at how that column was read to mean I would be gunning for actual death and destruction.

12:54 PM  
Blogger June Butler said...

Whoops! Here's the link.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

I saw her announcement tweet, "wishing for hurricane Katrina." It was barely a metaphor to begin with.

She should just withdraw the whole thing.

4:06 PM  

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