By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Rev. Ray

Right after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the Washington Post published a report on people who thought the disaster was God’s retribution. Post writer Alan Cooperman led with this:

Steve Lefemine, an antiabortion activist in Columbia, S.C., was looking at a full-color satellite map of Hurricane Katrina when something in the swirls jumped out at him: the image of an 8-week-old fetus.

“In my belief, God judged New Orleans for the sin of shedding innocent blood through abortion,” said Lefemine, who e-mailed the flesh-toned weather map to fellow activists across the country and put a stark message on the answering machine of his organization, Columbia Christians for Life.

Well, yesterday New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who did so much to spread false rumors of rapes and killings last fall, was at it again, making common cause with Lefemine. Only Nagin’s God is upset about a, uh, different set of issues. John Pope writes about Nagin’s Martin Luther King Day speech in today’s New Orleans Times-Picayune:

“This city will be a majority African-American city. It’s the way God wants it to be,” Nagin said. “You can’t have it no other way. It wouldn’t be New Orleans.”
Nagin’s remarks were tucked into a wide-ranging speech, delivered on the steps of the federal courthouse, in which the mayor related a dream conversation he had with the slain civil rights leader.

In addition to discussing New Orleans’ reconstruction, unity and numerous issues in the black community, in his speech Nagin attributed the recent hurricanes striking the United States to a God who is “mad at America” for waging a war in Iraq based on false pretenses. Nagin said God also is upset at the black community for not taking better care of its people….

“We ask black people…. It’s time for us to come together,” said the mayor, who is black.

“It’s time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans,” he said. “And I don’t care what people are saying in Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day.”

Nagin also said that last year’s devastating hurricanes were signs of God’s wrath.

“Surely God is mad at America,” he said.

I think we finally have the definitive answer to the question of whether we need to take Ray Nagin seriously.

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  1. AR

    I dunno Dan…I’m not inclined to take Nagin all that seriously, either. But it is important to remember that New Orleans is a very different kettle of fish than New England. Things we stuffy, elilist northerners laugh at are taken deadly seriously there. While Texas is not New Orleans either, over Christmas I had some very interesting discussions with folks in rural Texas (out near-ish Abilene), folks in Austin, and folks in Dallas. It was amazing how many things that were important to me, they had never even thought of or heard about. Even things local to them, like the Texas redistricting debacle. And what was humbling was how many things that were really important to them were things I had never heard of, either.And I don’t mean religious or moral things. It’s too easy to seize on those and dismiss them out of hand. I mean concrete, quantifiable issues. Like the worst drought Texas has seen in decades that led directly to one of the nastiest grass fires in years. It’s just not something a Bostonian would usually stop to think about. But you damn well better believe it was on a lot of peoples’ minds well before the grass fires that roared through between Christmas and New Years.Anyways, I would imagine many Gulf Coast folks are similar. For all I know Nagin looks cartoonish to them, too…but I’m not ready to dismiss that could look like a powerful leader to them, either.Turn it around…can you imagine how much of a cartoon character Mayor Menino must look to most of the South? Hell, we KNOW what a cartoon character Ted Kennedy looks like to most of the South! 🙂

  2. John Galt

    Perhaps much to do with latitude; somebody voted Hizzoner into City Hall.

  3. Anonymous

    Funny…when I read the statistic that Katrina and Rita negatively impacted over 45% of this country’s gasoline production I thought for sure GOD was mad at America for ruining the environment by overusing fossil fuels. Then I read a report from the Concerned Scientist of the Petroleum Industry that said Global Warming was a myth. Oh, well.As an aside, it’s really nice to see that FEMA has reworked their website so that Bush can better understand hurricanes. Be prepared I always say.

  4. AR

    Forget my comment defending Nagin yesterday. I saw last night’s “Daily Show” and if even Jon Stewart (one of the fairest people on television) is so openly mocking Nagin, then I’d say Nagin has about zero credibility.Interestingly, that same segment also ripped Hillary Clinton a much-deserved new one for her “plantantion” remark on MLK Day as well. And this is who the Democrats are pinning their hopes on for 2008? No wonder the Republicans keep winning…

  5. Anonymous

    Democrats are pinning their hopes on Hillary, you fool. She is the diversion. Republicans wack away at her (and I hate her) for her clownish behavior while the Dems slowly expand the criminal investigations to take down the Republicans.Has Hillary said ANYTHING that hasn’t been controversial? Has she said ANYTHING that hasn’t been brutally whacked by the press? Meanwhile Al Gore give a great speech on MLK day about domestic spying and executive powers that goes uncovered by the ‘liberal media’.Even Dan missed it.

  6. Anonymous

    Uncovered? I caught it on four different stations. Been a long time since Al’s last “come to Jesus” sermon; I missed him.

  7. Anonymous

    I feel like I’m talking to myself (anonymous). It’s one to thing to BE on TV. The Jetsons are on TV four times a day. It’s another thing to be discussed on TV with any relevance. You’ll notice that the only real coverage was the Republican and White House reaction to Gore’s speech.I miss Gore, too. Had he done his SNL guest host act before the 2000 election, he might have beat Bush. All the rigged machines in the world wouldn’t have saved Rove.Oh…and it was I who pelted you Dan. You should have covered it, should have mentioned it. It’s very important for Massachusetts to have Congress change over to DEMS. The trickle down has become a tinkle and that’s not good for anyone.

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