Monday, September 18, 2006

Of Xenophobes and Texans

This is almost a throwdown from Pastor Dan; at least, it stimulated me to look into this question.

My personal experience with this extends to the immediate aftermath of Katrina. As people were pouring into the Astrodome, I went to training to work there as a volunteer. I never had to go to the 'Dome (it emptied out before my turn came up), but the outpouring of concern and desire to help evident just at the multiple training sessions was truly overwhelming (almost as much so as reliving some of it just wandering through my archives from last September. You want to really get up close and personal, you have to go back to Scout Prime's work.). I did have a slight experience with crime, probably attributable to people from New Orleans, at one of my jobs. Many people from NO were moved into West Houston (a neighborhood, not a city, mind you), and there was some tension in the schools and in the neighborhoods; but it all pretty much ended by the spring, as many of the displaced left to go back to NO, or just moved on, or were even assimiliated.

This issue, in other words, is old. This MSNBC article is from March, and I think it's an exaggeration. Consider, for example, the impact of 150,000 people on an SMSA of over 5 million. Frankly, who notices? In the '90's alone Houston added 950,000 people, and that growth rate is expected to continue. 150,000 more, some of whom have already left, is chump change.

And where are all these "evacuees"? Well, let's just say they aren't in River Oaks or the Memorial Villages:

The southwest corner of this city is one sprawling low-rise apartment complex after the next, a once-hot real estate area that died with the 1980s oil bust only to be reborn in the '90s as a low-income, high-crime neighborhood. Now it's Katrina turf.
Note, again, that article dates back to February, 2006. And are they really wrecking the quality of life in town?

And now, police say that southwest Houston, long recognized as a problem area, is facing another manifestation of the Louisiana exodus: Katrina crime.
Crime, of course, is crime. The article goes on to note most of the suspects and victims of this "crime rise" are former residents of Louisiana. Sad the crime is up; but let's keep it in perspective, shall we? In fact, except for the story Pastor Dan has from the LA Times, everything I found in a quick Google search dates from the beginning of the year. The rise in crime, in other words, is already old news. But it's being exploited by very nasty people for, shall we say, obvious reasons? And need I say, they speak for very few of us? That "Texas" still derives from "Tejas," and means "Friendly"? Because we may have our faults, but turning guests into scapegoats is not one of them.

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