From NOLA Slate:
These ideas sound seditious, eh? Hey you, up in Dubuque, not liking this? Think we're all a bunch of wild eyed radicals? WRONG, although we could be, soon. As Ashley said, in post-WW2 Europe people rebuilt their city themselves, in some cases brick by brick. Okay, is that what it will take? Tell us and we'll do it. Quit dicking around. We'll get the voter registration rolls and put everyone to work in shifts. Most of us would willingly tote wheelbarrows and trowels if it meant that we'd be safe, a term used often and with great effect in the "War on Terror."Being in New Orleans for lo, these many weeks has been like a doctoral course on duality. While there is a great feeling of gratitude to the individuals and organizations that have come down to the Gulf Coast to pitch in, there is a seething discontent and frustration at the way government, at all levels, is 'handling' the rebuilding. Not the least of which is the 'oh, we'll take care of those levees...when we get around to it.' Then of course, there is the punditry from elsewhere (like the North Dakota email) that claim New Orleanian and Gulf Coast residents' demands for redress of greivances are nothing but 'howling' and 'blame' and 'do-nothingism.' If the USA no longer wants to take care of the levees in New Orleans, New Orleans would build the levees, restore the coastline and protect herself. NOLA and the Gulf would just need some of that money the Federal government recieves in oil and natural gas drilling revenue, and the right to redress the grievance against the ACoE in a Court of Law. I can only imagine that The City of New Orleans vs. the United States of America would be a compelling Supreme Court case to follow for the nation as a whole. (Because, though you may not be able to sue the US Army Corps of Engineers, you can sue the United States of America.)
Then there's this one from the Wet Bank Guide regarding the spirit of hope:
We have to recognize that we are in the position of Lincoln in the depths of the civil war. We are in a battle for our very existence as we conceive ourselves, and the old generals are failing us, are leading us through timidity and incompetence to defeat. We need new generals, who will treat the rest of the nation as Grant and Sherman treated the south, as ruthlessly as necessary to get the job done.And finally, the whole body of Moldy City's John Barry Katrina Anniversary Op Ed. John Barry is the author of Rising Tide, which I am currently reading, which is quickly rising in my personal list of 'most important American history books you should have but didn't hear about in high school.'
I believe the people of New Orleans haven't given up hope because we had so little of it to begin with. The venality of politicians, the inefficiency of government, the vicissitudes of weather and termites, of social and economic decay, all of these breed a certain sense of fatalism, an "if Allah wills it" quality that is alien to most Americans. We have a sense that New Orleans, without those burdens, would no longer be the place we love. We cherish a notion of ourselves as the equivalent of a nineteenth century sailor's Shanghai, a colonial outpost of sensuality and corruption and decay. We don't want to be 21st century Singapore, a model of totalitarian efficiency and cleanliness. It just ain't who we are.
And yet, the insha'Allah and the ennui are a mask, one we wear not just on a certain winter Tuesday, but most days of the year. Behind that mask are the people who get up five days a week and haul their kids to school, then go to work. They get up on a sweltering Saturday and overcome their tropical torpor to mow the grass. Later that night, they go out to try that new restaurant.
They get up on Sunday and hope that, this time, the Saints might win. Somewhere today in New Orleans (or Houston or Baton Rouge or Atlanta), someone will put down their beer, and talk about how wild it will be in the Quarter the year the Saints win the Super Bowl. At some level, and as much as we might not want to admit it, we are a hopeful people. Hedged in by levees that may or may not hold, beset Formosan termites and feckless politicians at every level, it would be impossible to live here without it.
Its a funny kind of hope, as old as Abraham. When you expect the worst around every corner, as often as not you will turn that corner and find some small thing that gives you a tremendous lift. That's where we find hope, like a glinting half dollar on the broken sidewalk as you walk from a bad day at the track to Liuzza's, the little mystical sign that maybe today or at least tomorrow is going to turn out all right.