Walking to New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina, five years on and still so many people are not home. So they can come home and stay, we need a coast, and for that we need among other things a United States Senator who supports coastal restoration.

Charlie Melançon won the Democratic primary last night and we truly deserve your contributions to his underdog campaign against David Vitter, R-BP, for the seat in the U.S. Senate Vitter now holds.

I do not agree with all of Melançon’s views but it is precisely his conservatism which makes him a viable candidate in this area, and he will stand for reason where Vitter does not.

Again, please consider supporting Melançon and, thereby, all of Louisiana as well as the entire United States, since what happens here DOES have an impact on what happens to the rest of you.


The other suggestion they are making on the radio is to support a musician to return to New Orleans.

Many of those who cannot afford to return due to the housing situation are musicians whose presence here would help ensure the continued existence of the important engine of world musical culture we are.

You can buy a good CD at a low price and otherwise support the New Orleans Musicians’ Relief Fund right here.


17 thoughts on “Walking to New Orleans

  1. The Nation has some good articles on New Orleans in the current issue.
    One thing that struck me was that among the authorities keeping order and protecting property took precedence over saving lives. The idea was to abandon all of New Orleans except the tourist area and the prosperous neighborhoods. This has not been a completely successful program, evidently.

  2. Unsuccessful insofar as there was resistance to it, yes. The plan was to keep only those areas and people knew about it right after the storm; it had support among some types of whites; etc. In the early days a lot of work was being done by Mexicans who were living in tents outside town and getting stiffed on wages. Disneyfied version of the place, was the idea, and while the media reported looting, there were actually a lot of murders of Black people by law enforcement personnel. The people who saved lives were more like regular people; random guys with boats in the Gulf who just sailed over to start rescuing people; hunting and fishing types from up here who drove their boats down to see what they could do. But definitely, the plan was to get the working classes out of town permanently and this was from Day 1; that’s why they were bussed off to random places as they were; come to think of it it was a lot like the trains to Siberia or the Hitlerian cattle cars. And then there was all the propaganda nationwide about how these people had been too stupid to evacuate, and so on. I am so shocked and angry about all of this, still.

  3. Just had this very strange 2.5 hr interview on Zimnet radio. The strange part was the latter half where I answered questions for various Zimbabweans about my self defence programme. I am writing this here, rather than on Facebook, because I don’t necessarily want to be seen publicly making a statement about said strangeness, but some of the callers were certainly confusing the fact that I had a PhD with the idea that I must have done research in Zimbabwe on women’s self defence. For example, one was saying that the sample I took for my research on self defence did not give me a very good representation of Zimbabwean culture. I was told that knowledge of Zimbabwe necessarily escaped me because the culture is very diverse, and also that I was in no position to understand Zimbabwean culture as to do so I would be to obtain an African husband. Anyway, so for an hour and a half I fielded questions about my supposed “research” on Zimbabwean culture and what was wrong with it. I was also told by a Zimbabwean woman (and a few men) that there was no place for self defence in Zimbabwean culture because if a man is going to rape a woman, that is just what has to happen. You cannot interfere with the kind of authority a husband has over his wife. Other novel ideas were that I am creating a militia, and showing my lack of understanding by having a Shona man to assist me rather than a Shona woman. And I did not go into the rural areas enough, because anybody knows it doesn’t take money to go somewhere if you know the right people. So what is wrong with me that I didn’t know the right people?

    1. Ya just cain’t do right, can ya?

      It’s sort of like on the blogs, and like talking to any random popular audience on any topic were race, gender, sex, violence, and national and regional identities come into play. Everyone wants to disregard the expertise you have, and ascribe to you claims of expertise you didn’t make. Everyone wants to assume there are certain basic things you did not understand or could not understand.

      (My youngest brother is trying to teach, via Facebook and other venues of the ether, Latin Americans that they really are part of the 19th century French project of Latin America, and Louisiana Cajuns and Creoles that they are all one and that they, due to their French speaking heritage, are Latin and thus part of Latin America — and that they deserve a part of the Federal education funding designated for Spanish speakers. When told none of this really makes sense, that much of it is anachronistic, and that even if it were “true” people won’t want to change their identifications and he has no authority to make them do so, he retorts that he is teaching us not to see race, and to honor all of our mixture, and that the only reason we don’t agree is that we look down on him because he has no PhD. Maybe you should friend him and watch the show — he has about 1500 friends so he won’t necessarily realize you’re associated with me. ;-))

      1. Hahaha. No, I think I have enough problems as it is, but thank you. I was watching how some of our politicians field questions of the sort I received today. First they smile in a way that is in no way to be assumed as ingratiating. Then they basically reassure the person how important they are, that everybody really does care very much about how well they’re getting along. Then they start talking about everything that they (the politician) has already done to make things better. Then they thank the person for asking the question and move on to the next person.

  4. Also, during the skype conference call, when I was taking questions, somebody wrote that one of the callers arguing for the inviolability of male supremacy in Zimbabwean culture might have been Arthur Mutambara. I don’t know, but I have a feeling that I may have been participating in something relatively big — you know at the level where there are government agents, friends of inner party members and so on.

  5. Youngest brother is like those politicians. What one of his professors said: “Well, I don’t like to be preached at, and I don’t like to be handled.”

    Definitely everyone was listening in on the call. The equivalent here: someone originally from Bolivia is moved to the US as a teenager, does good PhD on Bolivian literature and then goes there to teach womens’ self defense. They’d be all over the papers just for having done the PhD and being on a visit, let alone the other stuff. And every word they had to say about what Bolivia was would be watched, partly because it would be understood they’d be voicing their opinions abroad.

    1. Yeah, you are right about the Bolivian analogy, because that is pretty much how it was. The thing is that yesterday’s callers very much lacked political finesse, for the most part. Or else they thought I might easily succumb to a very crude form of identity politics. Telling me that self defence would never work in Zimbabwe, when clearly my experience teaching it there had been very successful, is to expect me not to believe my own senses. Also repeating that I couldn’t possibly understand Zimbabwean culture (because I am not a black Zimbabwean) is likely to produce a reaction, in even the most tolerant soul, of dull resignation, along with the reaction that there is very little about it that is worth understanding.

      Here, I think, we are dealing with ZANU-PF’s authoritarian approach to nativism, gone mad. Identity politics has apparently taken on an increasingly solipsistic quality, as options for expanding the economy (in a way that is not dependent upon “the West”) have been closed off, and the revolution starts to eat its children.

  6. Authoritarian approach to nativism, yes, that’s very Latin American too, although by now a lot of people realize it; still you talk to random people in the street, especially if you’re foreign, and the reflex is to explain the authoritarian approach as though it were gospel truth and if you don’t believe in it it is because you have not yet comprehended it.

    1. Well in Zim you will not get that response from random people in the street. That response is really only part of the ideology of the party faithful. The thing is that they assume they can hurt me with it, but it is like watching a child playing with a bread knife. They are playing with an idea of “the West” that assures that they cannot win. On the one side, they want to take the line that “the West” ought to come to rescue them in an absolute, and by no means merely partial way. So they stand up and criticise what they take to be “my programme” for its lack of absolutely redemptive qualities. Since it is only partially effective, in terms of saving the whole of Zimbabwean society, it is no good at all. At the same time, they want to say that given that I am “Western”, it is wrong for me to “intervene” as it were, at all. I am not to do it, because that is to influence the pristine nature of Zimbabwean culture, which is perfect just the way it is.

      The overall impact of these arguments is certainly to make me want to back off — but I am a little concerned for this baby still playing with its bread knife.

      1. I’d only worry if these people can actually stop you from getting into the country, or from doing your program, etc., or harm any of your friends’ projects. If not, you could just argue with them for sport when it comes up. If so, negotiate very patiently. Don’t assume you can teach them or change their minds.

  7. The key mode of argument has to be Yin energy, I realise. Yielding energy. Because to yield enables you to save your power to fight another day. It is also the reaction that dogmatists of any stripe are least anticipating.

  8. On an unrelated note — a Yin mode of shamanising seems to be to refuse interpellation, which produces a doubling effect when one’s inner self acknowledges a certain transcendence of one’s public persona.

    A Yang mode seems to be more along the lines of Bataille — choosing to destroy the public persona (and, in particular, one’s sense of emotional identification with it) in order to set free the inner identity.

    Now I am coming closer to see why Nietzsche and Bataille both tend to attach the appellation of “masculine” to their forms of shamanism, since it is already de rigueur to associate masculinity with violence.

    Refusal of interpellation could equally be construed as a “feminine” mode of resistance that leads to shamanisation. By “shamanisation”, I mean a mode of awareness of the manipulative nature of society’s common mores. (Nietzsche was particularly attuned to recognising this quality of manipulation in conventional morality).

    But of course, this is to speak of Yin and Yang — feminine and masculine — and in the context of Taoism, these are interdependent and related.

    1. I wonder whether this may be my problem with Reeducation and American society generally — a different use of “yin” and “yang” energies. It always seems one is expected to work inwardly when I would recommend the opposite, and vice versa. Hm.

      1. I have had exactly the same problem in Australian society. Generally people have read me as if my good will was actually my bad will and as if my indifference was actually tacit compliance.

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