Tuesday, March 28, 2006

We Export More Than That

I have seen many news stories about how Orleanian exiles are allegedly causing a spike in murder rates, e.g. in Jefferson Parish and in Houston. Obviously, any increase in murder anywhere is troubling.

Compounding the troubling nature of the news of loss of life is the attitude and conveniently limited memories of those delivering the news.

Cities, parishes, and counties are not country clubs, and we live in America, an open and free society. Most of the news stories about alleged crimes by Orleanian exiles (and the reaction to the stories) seem to proceed from an underlying attitude of "Go back to where you came from. We don't want your type around here." That's not American. The American attitude is "Come one, come all, but if you misbehave or worse, expect to feel the consequences."

Thus, people in Houston and Metairie and everywhere else should quit looking at exiled Orleanians as outside troublemakers. Our people are your people, as Cowboy Mouth says in "The Avenue," for now. We hope they all come back. Most of our people are just trying to make it. If some of us in Houston or elsewhere misbehave, stick it to them.

Cities get their power from their openness, not from being clubs.

Please note that some Orleanians exhibit the same venomous attitude. Peggy Wilson, in a parody of herself that's almost funny, has repeatedly said, "If you're a crack dealer or a welfare queen, we don't want you back." It's not the mayor's job to say garbage like that. The mayor's job is to say, "We want anybody who wants to live here. Obviously, if you break the law, be assured that we will deal with you in the strongest way possible."

The other troubling aspect of these stories is what they forget. For every murderer that New Orleans allegedly exports, there are 100 artists, lawyers, architects, engineers, homemakers, social workers, chefs, software engineers, and teachers that we export, too. How many talented Houstonians or Kennerites or Covingtonians got their knowledge and their passion for life and their craft by growing up in New Orleans? Funny, I don't see news stories with an underlying tone of gratitude for our people who have brought a lot to other areas because of their roots here.

We are a world class exporter of talent in multiple fields. We've lost more talented people than many cities have as residents.

That's a sad fact, one that we need to reverse. But it's worth remembering when one sees headlines about all the mayhem we're allegedly spreading.

UPDATE (By the way, Ashley has said a lot on this topic already, in a style much better and more amusing than mine. My current employment, as well as my limits as a writer, force me to make my point in less forceful terms.)


dillyberto said...

Talk about talent.

Chuck Norris wants to move here.

oyster said...

"Cities get their power from their openness, not from being clubs."

Yet, we are still a city that likes its "clubs".

Mr. Clio said...

"Clubs" in the plural, yes. It's a beauty that new clubs form every year because of some new idea or because of the shortcomings of some other club. How else can you explain Berto's fave, da Buzzards? Or the Round Table Club? Or people you see marching around the Marigny or the Irish Channel?

Peggy Wilson et al want one big club, and I don't think I or my wife or my mixed-race children would be welcome.

LatinTeacher said...

You know, that's how it is everywhere else. I was welcomed here in NJ with open arms. And in Pennsylvania. And I can't help think that I welcomed people to New Orleans in that way. Now it seems that New Orleans wants to solve its problems by shipping them somewhere else.
Maybe the solution is come back, stop the murders and robberies or face the consequences - stern and severe consequences.

Mr. Clio said...

I don't think most New Orleanians want to export their problems. A few cynical, selfish ones do, but not most of the people I run into.