Monday, March 26, 2007

In (very weak) defense of Ray Nagin

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I think Mayor Nagin is an idiot who should be recalled. He is a spineless hypocrite. But the stopped clock theory nevertheless prevails, and while Nagin has been bashed by every possible critic on each end of the political spectrum, it is New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist James Gill who gets it right: Everything Nagin said when he recently spoke to a group of black journalists was correct; he blew it when he over-stated it and, once again, sounded like an idiot.

From Gill's column in yesterday's paper:

Of course Nagin is right to assert that black people get the short end of the stick, in New Orleans and elsewhere, and that the mass Katrina evacuation was not greeted with universal regret in some white circles. He is not the only public official to have suggested that federal aid would have been more promptly distributed in a community with more whites and Republicans.

It is also true that the demographic changes wrought by the storm emboldened white candidates who would never have thought they had a hope of winning office before the storm.

Nagin is correct to suggest that black people were alive to the threat and turned out to vote for him because they were not about to relinquish "what we have fought for over many, many years."

Gill continues:

But he couldn't leave it at that....One must hope that he was just being provocative in suggesting that shadowy figures organized the diaspora to "change the electoral process" and that their "model" is being studied in other cities where black voters are regarded as an inconvenience.

Gill is spot-on, as usual. I firmly believe that people should speak out, even if what they have to say makes other people uncomfortable. I am sick and tired, for example, of so-called feminists watering down their message until it sounds like their only purpose is to kiss the ass of the patriarchy. I don't have a problem with Nagin's calling racism racism. But every time he says something completely ridiculous that he cannot back up with any proof, he gives people permission to dismiss everything he has said.

Also in yesterday's paper, columnist Jarvis DeBerry suggests Nagin employ a speechwriter and use some notes.


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