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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Instant Urban Renewal

News shots showing persons displaced by the New Orleans floods shouting for help from GW Bush, in a way indicating that they expected none, motivated me to google the 2004 election results. As I expected, in strong contrast to the rest of Louisiana, in New Orleans Bush wasn't favored. Instead Kerry received 78% of the city's vote.

The GOP is not noted for being generous toward those who don't vote for them, so it's easy to believe that behind the scenes, a lot of geopolitical recalculation is going on, beyond people doing what is expected of them in a "decent respect to the opinions of mankind," to borrow a phrase that T. Jefferson so eloquently used. So if I were among the refugees' numbers -- and but for several shifts in fate I easily could have been, though it only takes one such shift, doesn't it? -- I would be careful. I think it likely that the floodwaters with all their accompanying debris aren't the only things that are being flushed out of that narrow loop of the historic city between the lake and the river.

In the 1960's in my hometown of Washington, D.C., a section of the city adjoining the Potomac River called Foggy Bottom, which comprised just about the whole of the Southwest quadrant of the city, albeit the smallest of the quadrants, was almost completely emptied of its residents in a one fell swoop effort called Urban Renewal. As I recall, this wasn't caused by a natural disaster, though that part of the city was the one most likely to be affected by the river overflowing. Instead it was a matter of upscaling. The majority of those displaced residents were low income people of recent African descent, and few of them ever returned.

"Urban renewal" and "gentrification" are terms deeply embedded in D.C.'s recent history, the latter meaning the quiet process by which people of higher incomes acquire properties in the inner city, fix them up so that they are fancier than when the brick homes were constructed as far back as the 1800's, move in, and supplant the former, poorer, minority residents, many of whom in their turn had supplanted populations of the majority hue decades earlier. These were parts of large scale population shifts that happened just in my lifetime in D.C. and adjoining Prince Georges County in Maryland.

It could be that Hurricane Katrina has suddenly set a perfect stage for New Orleans to undergo the same kinds of change, but in a much shorter time.


Blogger Steve Bates said...

Perhaps you are right, Carl. But there is no net gain for the Republicans in this tragedy.

Except for the estimated 10,000 dead in New Orleans, all the rest landed somewhere. About 150,000 of them landed here in Houston; they are part of about 250,000 who came to Texas. If even half of them stay here, there is the potential that they may tip this red state into the blue. That's why Gov. Perry is trying so hard to export them already.

If Republicans allowed this tragedy to happen for the sake of revenge (and I am of the opinion that they allowed it to happen, for whatever motive, by defunding the completion of Army Corps of Engineers levee improvement projects already in the works), then they are not just fools, but damned fools.

The Yellow Doggerel Democrat

1:56 AM  
Blogger Rook said...

Steve, remember, we are talking about the vengeful Bush administration. vengefulness is not about logic or even political thought. It is pure and simple primal feelings of satisfaction. In that, I have to concur with Carl about the indifference towards Louisiana.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Carl (aka Sofarsogoo) said...

Hi, Steve and Guy Andrew, and thanks to both. Although, as I've already hinted, Texas sometimes strikes me as being a fearful place (like Oklahoma, NYC, Cicero, Ill, and some others), I am always interested in what goes on in your state, Steve. We're lucky to have you there to keep us always insightfully informed, especially at a time like this.

10:54 AM  

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