Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's Not Asked is as Important as What Is

Global warming is certainly not the only issue being neglected by the major media outlets; however, I found this video particularly well-done pointing out how little of a focus it has actually received (h/t Bry):

Speaking of issues that have been neglected, wobblie has a great dispatch of his experience in New Orleans and the lack of political coverage about its reconstruction. What has amazed me, although being a sociologist it probably shouldn't, is the lack of connection that anyone sees from New Orleans to anything else in the country. Wob's picture of the lower Ninth Ward impressed me because of its familiarity. Not to New Orleans, mind you, but to Detroit. When I went out block-listing for the Detroit Area Study, I was amazed at the absolute abandonment of the city. We literally had addresses to be listed that were next to holes in the ground that used to be a basement with a house on top of it. No house, no families, just a masonry hole and foundation where a house once stood. Entire blocks were wiped out with a combination of overgrowth, vacant houses with anti-arson signs (to prevent Devil's Night fires) and holes. The conditions didn't look that dissimilar from New Orleans, other than the fact that there was snow and there were a few property lots still dotted with non-vacant houses.

It is depressing situation when there were calls to "never forget" the catastrophe and a brief moment to mobilize around issues of poverty and racial inequality in this country. Maybe getting the mainstream media outlets to cover these issues in the presidential race could be a project for The Point (h/t: Brayden) ?


wobblie said...

Welcome back, Mike.

Mike3550 said...

Thanks, wobs. It's been too long! BTW, great posts on New Orleans. I am curious to go out in the city and around when I am down there in April for a conference. I spent a fair amount of time there when I was in school, so it will be weird to go back now.

wobblie said...

I'd really be interested to hear what you had to say. What's going on in NOLA seems to be right up your alley - it's like what you're researching, only on fast-forward.

Mike3550 said...

Wobs - I am definitely interested in finding out what is going on down there. It was interesting because New Orleans always struck me as a deeply impoverished city with the adult's playground in the Quarter. I get the sense from some in the mainstream that they think that the anti-poor politics were a result of Katrina. In fact, Katrina only laid them bare.

The politics of New Orleans were always a resigned acceptance of the poor. If the wealthy in the Garden District could boot all the poor people out of New Orleans, they would have. And, unlike a lot of cities, I got the sense that it wasn't hidden in New Orleans the way it was in other cities I experienced. "Pure" and "Vulgar" were certainly demarcated spatially and culturally and Mardi Gras always acted as the liminal, celebratory space where the tensions were resolved enough to prevent an explosion during the remainder of the year. It was the perfect case study of Victor Turner in action.

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