Democracy, Just Not In America

Iwo Jima Mural Comes DownThe Barren Grounds Of Alfred Lawless High School

The picture on the left was taken at the tail end of a tour of (flooded and unflooded) New Orleans I gave a visiting friend last weekend. The building that hosts this mural of the famous Iwo Jima flag-raising event lives across the street from our World War II museum and is being torn down as part of the museum expansion. What’s sad is that it was painted by participants of the pre-Katrina Prison Wall Mural Program – a nicely-done piece of New Orleans history is bulldozed away.

Even sadder is that the tearing down of the mural reminds me of America today as we demolish the foreign relations and goodwill created by our forebears. The image on the right above is the grounds of Alfred Lawless High School in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, 19.25 months after the storm and flood. A destroyed school in a destroyed neighborhood untouched for a shamefully long time. Is this indicative of the democracy our forefathers took abroad and fought and died for? When Americans ask for better education, better healthcare, better social programs that help us help ourselves … better investment in America itself … we are told it costs money.Money.

Back to the sharply varying shades of reality here: What appalls me the most are homeowners in Lakeview and more affluent sections of Gentilly and New Orleans East who have the resources to gut or demolish their homes, but ran away from their responsibility. Nineteen months later, large houses and mansions sit locked in the time freeze of August 29, 2005 added to only by mold, rats, roaches, vagrants and decay. What’s their excuse?

I can go on and on as I did with my friend until she got here. After one long look around, she got it and I had little more to say. YOU should come here, too. Inhale destruction, abandonment and renewal right here in your nation. Until then, I hope these pictures give you a tiny shred of an idea.

6 thoughts on “Democracy, Just Not In America

  1. virgotex says:

    What appalls me the most are homeowners in Lakeview and more affluent sections of Gentilly and New Orleans East who have the resources to gut or demolish their homes, but ran away from their responsibility
    you know the demographics of those communities and I don’t,maitri, but is it unreasonable to hazard a guess that insurance and our society’s high tolerance for debt is playing a role there? Does everyone in those neighborhoods own those homes outright and also have ample cash reserves, or are they, as is the norm, mortgaged to their gills?
    Or, if they have cash reserves, I wonder if they are just taking the foreclosure route and bugging out, rebuilding elsewhere? Someone with resources might be in a better position to survive a foreclosure and move on than someone (like most of us) who has everything sunk into their home
    I”m just wild-ass guessing at an explanation, certainly not excusing anyone.

  2. pansypoo says:

    i got a real nice letter from my new orleans bidder and e-mailed a bit. she wqas lucky. her house was 6 inches above the water as it had been raised up. but everybody had a fridge of disaster. sounds like she feels the emptiness of what is gone. who’s missing.
    but she loves her jazz.

  3. Maitri says:

    virgotex, I have considered your views and in half of the irresponsibility cases, you are right. It’s not irresponsibility, they are mortgaged to the hilt and insurance companies suck. But, anyone with a mortgage is required to have flood insurance with which they get their homes gutted. I guess I personally know some cases in which the owners can and should gut, but just bailed out of fear, depression, inability to deal and abject apathy. That’s still not an excuse to leave your home, your responsibility to just sit there and fester while you’re off buying another nice house somewhere else. Ick.

  4. virgotex says:

    Agreed. Not an excuse.
    Interesting, the concept of responsibility: it really is one of the main keys in this whole awful story, on all levels, from all sides. What is this person’s, this entity’s,this corporation’s, this government’s, these American citizens’ responsibility in this instant, in this context?

  5. jeffrey says:

    Ah there you are! I haven’t been able to access this site in about 2 days. I was about to start telling people that Maitri had broken it.

  6. It’s good for folks to look at the pictures, but you really do have to be there to take the true horror of the situation.

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