Letters in a computer with red mailbox flag
As a former New Orleans resident, I was appalled and deeply disturbed by the man from St. Paul's comments regarding New Orleans residents efforts to rebuild their city. His ignorance and lack of compassion is staggering. He may feel like his is "telling it like it is" with some sort of "tough love," but he neither loves New Orleans, nor knows the first thing about the area and the people there. Living for the present does not mean being irresponsible.
Might I also suggest that this view could be perceived as having roots in racist opinions regarding New Orleans because it was a primarily black city? Mr. Riemer may not realize that his words echoed centuries of commentary, almost word-for-word, regarding the laziness, the lack of care for tomorrow, the indolence of blacks, but his words nonetheless recall that racist tone. These feelings toward blacks, and the poor, are based on circular logic, and are just as based on ignorance as his contemporary feelings toward New Orleans residence.
I was appalled by the attitude of the gentleman from St. Paul who characterized the New Orleans residents as (to summarize) not working on their own recovery. I can only conclude that he has not seen the work being done there, but instead relies on inadequate news reports. Yes, it's true that a tsunami of volunteers has gone to the Gulf Coast to help out. I hope that Mr. Riemer is one of them. And you, Ms. Viglund, totally missed this part of the story in your coverage. But it's totally unfair to say that the New Orleans residents are sitting by waiting for help. I can only conclude that this attitude comes from ignorance of the situation. Mr. Riemer, you must not have seen the piles and piles of debris that the residents of Gentilly had created as they organized themselves to rebuild their neighborhood in the months after the storm. I have seen those debris piles, and made a few myself. You apparently have not seen the organizations of local residents who work with the volunteers to rebuild the town. I have watched those workers, and worked alongside them. (I have to point out that not everyone is able bodied, and they must rely on volunteer help.) It's slow because there's not a lot of wealth among the stricken neighborhoods, and government money either does not reach these people or is inadequate for the task at hand. It's also slow because many people have established themselves in other towns, leaving the matter of abandoned real estate. As for the attitude that it's not appropriate for someone who's never been there before to report on the story...I don't get that at all. At least you reported the story in far more than a superficial way. Thanks again for doing that report (even though I do feel you missed the aspect of the volunteers).
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