Day By Day

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tin Foil Hat Time in New Orleans

One of the more disturbing aspects of contemporary American political culture is the widespread acceptance of exotic conspiracy theories. Absurdities that would, in more rational times, be simply laughed off as idiot ravings are now taken seriously. Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in the Black community. Witness:

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin has suggested that the slow recovery and rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina -- which has prevented many black former residents from returning -- is part of a plan to change the racial makeup and political leadership of his and other cities.

"Ladies and gentlemen, what happened in New Orleans could happen anywhere," Nagin said at a dinner sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade group for newspapers that target black readers. "They are studying this model of natural disasters, dispersing the community and changing the electoral process in that community."

Nagin's remarks Thursday night recalled the controversy stirred up by his prediction in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech in 2006 that, despite the evacuation of thousands of black people in the wake of Katrina, New Orleans would once again become a "chocolate city." The mayor later apologized for the comment, which had infuriated many whites and African Americans.

Nagin, who won reelection last May over Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, referred obliquely to the "chocolate city" comment at the dinner and suggested that his assertion that New Orleans would once again be a majority-black city had made him a political target.

"Everybody in America started to wake up and say: 'Wait a minute. What is he doing? What is he saying? We have to make sure that this man doesn't go any further,' " Nagin told a room full of black newspaper publishers and editors at the Capital Hilton.

Read it here.

This is only the latest in a long series of absurd assertions to be given wide currency in the wake of the Katrina disaster. I remember this sort of silliness from half a century ago emanating from the political Right wing. Today it is the province of the Left and has even entered the mainstream of Democratic Party discourse. And that is the major difference. The conservative wing-nuts were marginalized, the liberal loons are mainstreamed, both politically and culturally.

These are dark and troubling times indeed. Carl Sagan was right to call this a "Demon-haunted" age. What is perhaps most troubling is the fact that the lunacy is being promulgated from our centers of elite learning and political leadership.


Hat Tip to J.B.

No comments: