Friday, September 30, 2005

Nagin peddling conspiracy theories to Nation of Islam.

Politics: The more people stay around New Orleans, more stories about how corrupt and stupid the officials are coming out.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina, Americans have been exposed to another side of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Prior to the hurricane, New Orleans residents recognized Nagin as a “big idea” guy who rarely delivered on his promises. For example, Nagin proposed to sell the New Orleans airport to pay for infrastructure improvements, to build a new city hall and for the City of New Orleans to take over and operate 20 of the worst performing public schools and turn them into centers of excellence. All of these ideas were good, but none became reality because Nagin excels in grand thinking, not implementation. Since the storm, people throughout the country have seen another side of Nagin that is not too flattering, one that tends to exaggerate about the horrible impact of the hurricane. The hurricane was bad enough so it is perplexing why Nagin has to embellish anything. In many media interviews, Nagin initially claimed that there would be 10,000 dead bodies as a result of the storm. The latest report is that 923 people in New Orleans died due to Katrina and the aftermath, a big difference. Then, Nagin joined the equally fact challenged former Police Chief Eddie Compass on the Oprah show to describe the awful conditions in the Louisiana Superdome. Their litany of horrors was exaggerated and was a disservice to the evacuees in that facility who had to experience really dreadful conditions. He pro! posed an aggressive re-entry plan for New Orleans and had to backtrack when met with opposition from Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen and the reality of Hurricane Rita. Now people are wondering whether they can believe what Nagin says. Or, how about what he tells Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Yes, believe it or not, in the tumultuous aftermath of the hurricane, Nagin found time to meet with the most controversial religious leader in the country. Initially, it was reported that Nagin went to Dallas, TX to set up his family in a new house and enroll his children in school. We also know he conducted a controversial meeting with business and civic leaders about the future of New Orleans. Now, we discover Nagin met with Farrakhan and some of his lieutenants. To make matters worse, Farrakhan, the king of conspiracy theories, now has a new theory to peddle, that the New Orleans levees were blown up so that black areas of town would be decimated. Of course a major problem with this “theory” is that Lakeview and Old Metairie were also destroyed, two almost all-white areas, but facts never get in the way of a Farrakhan story. Here is what he told an audience at a recent rally in Memphis, “We did a whirlwind tour where we hired a chartered jet, we flew to Dallas, Texas - members of the Millions More Movement - where we met! with Mayor Nagin. Mayor Nagin told us there was a 25-foot crater under the levee; (he) didn´t say there was a bomb. He just said there was a crater. I say they blew it [up]." He later added that “We’ve suggested that it [the levee] may have been blown up so that the water would destroy the black part of town.” To make matters worse, another Nation of Islam leader, Minister Nashim Nzinga, was interviewed on the Hannity and Colmes show and claimed that “Mayor Ray Nagin told Louis Farrakhan in Dallas earlier this month that the levee break that precipitated the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was the result of some government conspiracy against blacks." It is quite disturbing that such fiction is being peddled. It doesn’t help New Orleans recover, it doesn’t help race relations and it certainly doesn’t help the tattered credibility of Mayor Ray Nagin. These conspiracies will undoubtedly persist because many people still believe the fiction that the levees were dynamited during Hurricane Betsy in 1965. It just did not happen, then or now.
Nagin is playing himself up to whoever his audience is at the time to make himself look good. Problem is people are realizing that is what he is doing.

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