Thursday, April 6, 2006

Martin Luther King, Jr. Thinks Ray Navin is a No-Talent Assclown

Listen up, people who vote for elected officials because they happened to be in office in a time of need - no, not should have, but NEED - a new theory of voting.

Let me tell you a few home truths about politics. It is so, so easy to Be A Leader in a time of crisis. It is so, so easy to climb on top of a pile of rubble and say something, anything about how we are going to bounce back, and we are going to be whole again someday soon. And plenty of people are probably thinking, "no, wrong, crises are the roughest times for society." That is exactly why it's so simple to Be A Leader when they happen - everyone is feeling the same pain. It's not like an average day in the life, it's a day when EVERYONE is hurting, and EVERYONE seeks some kind of vengeance or retribution. When everyone feels the same, you can be a candle in the dark with a few sweeping generalizations. This is why Bush goes to speak in front of Young Republican meetings and Kerry or whatever other lame-ass the DNC vomits up for 2008 goes to talk to Young Democrats...those in attendance all feel the same way about whatever the topic at hand is, and they are going to ask questions that are gentle setups, not hard spikes. It's just the way it is.

You may have noticed that I said it's easy to Be A Leader, not to lead. I did that on purpose, because there is not a single person on the planet who doesn't think they are some kind of leader. That doesn't mean shit, unfortunately. Actually leading - the part that comes after the bullhorn-infused chest pounding - is the hard have to temper the rhetoric with productive action. It means diplomacy. And that's why as much as I would like to beat Jill back into the womb, I won't ever do it. It solves nothing, and only means that now there's someone out there who actively hates you. You need less of that. You need to THINK, and you need to take the actions that will SMOOTHLY get your towards your goal. Hitting things with sticks has never done anything for anyone in the field of government. At least not in the past thousand years or so. This is the problem with Israel and Palestine, it's the problem with the Tutsi and the Hutu, it's the problem with Post-9/11 America and the Arab World...the frantic pace of today's business has begun to seep into government (think about the influx of business people into the government positions of the Clinton and Bush Administrations alone to realize this), which was created with slowness built into it for the express purpose of producing reasoned, well-thought-out, deliberate actions from government agencies. It's fine if you want to adopt being an utter douchebag as your business strategy, because the worst that can happen is that other businesses refuse to cooperate with or use you, but when you apply the Douchebag School of Business to government, you're aggravating not only whole countries, which are armed, but you're also doing it in a very public way, which can make other countries, who have nothing to do with the initial conflict, take issue with you and the way you do business, and THAT, my friends, is nothing but trouble.

It goes without saying that Bush's inability to effectively lead is extremely high on my list of things that absolutely disgust me about him. Most probably do not realize that I think he handled the actual immediate reaction to September 11th perfectly. We needed someone to stand up, in that horror movie that was on the TV screens, someone who we recognized, someone, anyone who we knew was in charge of SOMETHING, and we needed them to say that we were going to find those fuckers and bomb them back to the stone age. We needed that to shake off what we felt, and we needed it to wake up and take action and start asking questions. And Bush did it perfectly. He didn't wear a suit, and he let his accent play up, and he stood up there and held that bullhorn, being everything romantic about that piss-and-vinegar, Wild West, manifest destiny, ass-kicking, hell-no-the-Oregon-Trail-ain't-gonna-keep-me-from-my-65-hectares-in-Nevada-the-hell-with-dysentery American cowboy thing that sold so many cigarettes and is associated so broadly with us by the world's citizens, and told all the creepy-crawlies hiding under the bed that we were coming with a flashlight and a monster-beatin' stick, and it was ON, because you do not pull this shit in AMERICA and get away with it.

Five years later, he's still doing it.

And Osama bin Laden is still out there.

Because he's got shit for oil.

And you know, I really am not all that pissed about going after Saddam Hussein, because you know what? That man is an evil human being. He deserves to be ripped out of power, and his people deserve to have a chance to form their own process. He deserves to have been shot right there in his pathetic little hole. But the thing is, you can't force democracy on people. They have to want it. It's the power of the PEOPLE, and if those people, who are supposed to be in charge, don't care, or want the control...then they will return to whatever they had. There will always be a new Saddam Hussein. Diplomacy is all that can help that. Put them out of business. Take the money away. Bolster the United Nations so it actually has, you know...power. Those are the things that will change the world.

This is all so far away from Ray Navin right now. I digress.

So Ray Navin thinks that God wants New Orleans to be black. Wait a sec, strike that, start with Katrina. I watched the Katrina aftermath footage with a dropped jaw, as, I assume, did a lot of people. A lot of the jaw dropping was Navin-based. Some of the crap that would spill out of that man's mouth, I swear to God, made me want to kick puppies. Again, he started out okay..."we'll get life back to normal, just you wait, blah blah blah." And again...didn't tone down the rhetoric. So then he started emitting crazier and crazier statements until he was doing things like trying to reopen the French Quarter when there were still multiple feet of horrendously contaminated water in LARGE areas, most of the hospitals were still duct taping their day to day operations together, the police force was quitting en masse, and NO ONE HAD A HOME. Look, the tourist industry is important. But when your people have no homes, and your hospitals don't work? Places to booze it up are really not what should be your primary concern. And then there was the finger pointing binge, that's still really going on today, and FEMA fucked up and the state fucked up and yeah, that's fine, but...hello. Make. Do. Every second you spend bitching about how wrong you been done is a second that you are NOT getting someone a house. (Confidential to people making a stink about trailer parks being built near their neighborhoods: THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. YOUR PROPERTY VALUE SUCKS NOW. I KNOW YOU YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT, BUT THIS IS REALITY. YOU KNOW WHAT RAISES PROPERTY VALUES? NOT HAVING BATTALIONS OF HOMELESS PEOPLE ON HAND. Jesus.)

Anyway, the really offensive thing, to me, is the whole "God meant Louisiana to be a Chocolate City" line. I am lucky enough to be white, okay, so no matter what I say or think, it's true that I will never understand how any minority individual truly feels, or what they need to deal with on a regular basis. And that sucks, not only because I would LOVE to understand, so that I can better address the various redresses of my actions and those around me, but more than that, it sucks because...who cares? Who cares if someone is black or white or red or yellow or hot pink? It doesn't change who they are, and it doesn't change the fact that they are human, so who. Cares. Obviously a lot of people. But seriously...there are fucked up black people and there are fucked up white people. There are wildly successful white people and there are wildly successful black people...which, yes. Black people in this country started with a hell of a disadvantage. If your parents were poor and their parents were poor and their parents were poor and their parents were poor...that's a lot of history to fight. And it's the same for black people, but it sucks even more because there are still people out there who think that black people are inherently trouble, and that's gross.

But part of it is also an insularity (is that a word?) that develops when a group is persecuted. That's a daunting obstacle in the process of breaking down a barrier. It's like the gulf between the popular kids and the nerds in high school...a nerd would be terrified to approach the popular kids, but I think that in reality, the popular kids would be just a terrified to approach the geeks. When there is an entire culture thriving without you, it's very hard to leap into the middle of it. You don't know the rules, you don't know the in-jokes, you don't know anything. Hard. Ideally, what everyone would do is keep their pride, but present it in an unaggressive way. Pride in who you are is so beautiful, when it is simply there, resting for other people to discover it, but when it's forced, it repels. That's what this Chocolate City business is, and it bothers the hell out of me. You also kind of need to pick a side of the fence. You can either bitch about prejudice, and force everyone to face it head on, which I think is legit and possible, or you can say you want to segregate yourself in a Chocolate City, where black power can reign supreme, blah blah blah, which I actually think would also work, but only if you accept that it means inevitable distrust and prejudice. But you have to pick one. You have to pick one because you can't make any forward progress by trying to do both. I know it's sort of a random and semi-off-topic example, but it's much like the reason that Anakin Skywalker as a character in the newest three Star Wars installments sucked. Sars at Tomato Nation said it a hundred million times better in her article on it, which I highly reccommend that you read, along with everything she has ever written (In the Star Wars vein, don't miss the Darth Vader article.), but the gist of it is that no one ever could have presented a decent performance of a character with two completely different motivations, i.e. one, that he turned to the Dark Side because he thought it would save Padame and two, that he did so because he's a douchebag looking for a shortcut to power. It didn't work for Hayden Christiansen, and it isn't going to work for any minority ever. When I worked in Dupont Circle, I saw the gay community doing the same thing. Be proud, don't shove it at people. Let them discover it themselves, and most importantly, BE WILLING TO HELP THEM UNDERSTAND! No one is born with an innate knowledge of everything. Someone's gonna do something stupid. Help them, and we'll all be all right.

This has gotten a little rambly, but the upshot is that Ray Navin is a jackass who thinks he's helping blacks and in reality is pissing on any and all progress by pulling this "the world hates black people" crap and then turning around and saying they need to make New Orleans back into a "Chocolate City." Martin Luther King Jr. got it, and he would have BITCH SLAPPED Ray Navin. I hope that the people of New Orleans have the sense to elect someone better this time around, someone who will do them right.

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