The silly mayor of New Orleans

Pat Robertson isn’t the only idiot out there peddling strange beliefs concerning God’s corrective wrath. The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, said some strange things yesterday:

“Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it’s destroyed and put stress on this country,” Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.

“Surely he doesn’t approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We’re not taking care of ourselves.”

Oh, where to start? I’m not so sure God sent the hurricanes as much as maybe, you know, the weather patterns, the oceans currents, and maybe a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan sent the hurricanes. Could God have sent the hurricane? Sure, but I really really doubt He did. In Iraq under false pretenses? Way to go, Nagin, for bringing up a divisive issue on a national holiday and being ignorant about it in the process. Anybody who thinks we went into Iraq only for WMDs definitely wasn’t paying attention to the run up to the war. Finally, it seems Nagin takes that old platitude “God helps those who help themselves” even farther out of whack. Nagin seems to believe God also punishes those who don’t help themselves. I wonder what Nagin would say about Job . . .

Let’s move on:

Nagin also promised that New Orleans will be a “chocolate” city again. Many of the city’s black neighborhoods were heavily damaged by Katrina.

“It’s time for us to come together. It’s time for us to rebuild New Orleans _ the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans,” the mayor said. “This city will be a majority African American city. It’s the way God wants it to be. You can’t have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn’t be New Orleans.”

Nagin described an imaginary conversation with King, the late civil rights leader.

“I said, `What is it going to take for us to move on and live your dream and make it a reality?’ He said, `I don’t think that we need to pay attention any more as much about other folks and racists on the other side.’ He said, `The thing we need to focus on as a community _ black folks I’m talking about _ is ourselves.'”

Nagin seems to have a very close connection with God, and I wasn’t aware God had such a soft spot for New Orleans, a city widely known for its debauchery, crime, and gambling. Nagin’s imaginary conversation with King is not only fantastical but also insulting to King’s legacy to the civil rights movement. Didn’t Dr. King end some historic speech somewhere about his dream of having his children be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin? Ah, yes, he did. Maybe Nagin forgot that King’s dream was a color blind society.

To be fair, Nagin has apologized for the “chocolate” comments, sorta:

“I’m really sorry that some people took that they way they did, and that was not my intention,” the mayor said. “I say everybody’s welcome.”

Nagin added that he never should have used the term “chocolate.”

Let me translate this: “I’m sorry everybody was dumb enough to make reasonable assumptions about what I said yesterday, but after I got flack for it I realize it was stupid.” You know, this apology looks like an apology I might have given when I was in high school. It seems to me that a man of his age and profession would have realized a more tactful apology would address his errors rather than his audience’s mistake.

7 thoughts on “The silly mayor of New Orleans”

  1. If Nagin had said he prayed about it and God told him he’s angry at America for various reasons, would you think differently of him? I kind of doubt Nagin is much of a praying man, and he just came up with these on a hunch. But imagine if Billy Graham had said it, you know, a religious leader better known for evangelism than political statements. I want to know if others think that anytime a religious leader says “God says” or “God is ___” in reference to current events, we must automatically discount it. It’s not a trick question, I just want to hear some other perspectives.

  2. I don’t think we need to immediately discount it, but I do think we need to view it with more skepticism than usual. I think the problem is 2-fold. Assuming it’s a “god told me” sort of a statement there’s absolutely no way of verifying it. Additionally, scripture can be interpreted in a variety of ways, so someone just quoting scripture could make a statement which is biblically accurate or completely inaccurate from any number of perspectives.

    Bottom line is that blindly accepting everything a religious leader says just because they are “religious” wont always get you to the truth.

    Also steve, just because one doesn’t agree with the war doesn’t mean we’re ignoring the justifications for war other WMDs.

  3. Matt, agreed, but usually when somebody is referring to the false pretenses for going to war they mean the WMDs and not the violation of UN resolutions, firing on US planes, actively supporting terrorism, attempts on a US president’s life, and humanitarian reasons.

    I think it’s a very valid stance to be against the war, but to claim the whole war was started under false pretenses is ignorant.

  4. Actually, a lot of us who refer to the false pretenses refer to the attempt to make a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, being that we were supposed to be fighting the “war on terrorism” and taking out Al Qaeda. There wasn’t a known connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq until we showed up.

    The other reasons pale in comparison to what has happened in Darfur, which I still think would have been a much better use of our resources and provided more of a humanitarian benefit.

    Nagin, though, is a fool, along with all of the other people who bring religion into politics.

  5. I actually saw him say later that he was refering to the process of making chocolate. Like dark cacao mixed with white milk, to form chocolate.

    Ha! How do you like them apples?!?! 😐

  6. I suggest feeding the chocolate to the poor and hungry peoples of New Orleans.

    In all seriousness, Nagin’s statements, whether prefaced with indications that he’d prayed about it, or by a statement that he convened with all the city’s voodoo and hoodoo practitioners to divine that Katrina was Gaia wearing a 200 mph dress, still shows that he’s an idiot.

    He does profess to be a Christian, which means he is doubly responsible for what he says. And stupid things spoken should result in ridicule and frowny looks.

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