Thursday, August 31, 2006

More on New Orleans

Adolph Reed in The Progressive on New Orleans.

With each passing day, a crucially significant political distinction in New Orleans gets clearer and clearer: Property owners are able to assert their interests in the polity, while non-owners are nearly as invisible in civic life now as in the early eighteenth century.

Among other things, the travesty in New Orleans reminds us that capitalism enshrines the prerogatives of property owners—and the bigger the holdings, the more substantial the voice.

This underscores why a simplistically racial interpretation of the injustices perpetrated in New Orleans is inadequate, even when those injustices cluster heavily along racial lines. Substantial numbers of blacks as well as whites are in a position to benefit materially from this regime; blacks as well as whites support the de facto creation of a property owners’ republic. It is possible simultaneously to include black people as stakeholders in the equation for rebuilding the city and to exclude poor people. This is the truth beneath the 200 sociologists’ assurance that their proposal for dispersing the poor would not “depopulate the city of its historically black communities.” But this is a sleight of hand that seeks to sanitize class cleansing with a patter of racial respect.

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