I have been appalled lately by these billboards that I am seeing all around that say “New Orleans, The City Where Anything Goes!” These advertisments are brought to you by your better tourist bureau who is basically trying to create enough revenue to turn OLD Orleans into a modern day NEW theme park. It’s a simple ingredient and it has been made in various cities such as New York and San Fransisco and soon to come in Baghdad. Remove the elements of diversity and culture from the city (gentrification) and bring in big business which will create a clean corporate mono culture. A city safe enough for tourism. Clean enough to eat off of the streets. But lets not be fooled. It is no longer a city (which means a diverse economic and culture population of people all co-existing together in a small space)- it is more like a simulation of a city which is a simulation of a corporate think tank on how to turn the citizens into consumers. Our cities are becoming occupied by the forces of greed.
No better place can this be currently seen than in New Orleans. Just today, what took place could not be a better demonstration of the workings of this corporate restructuring. A large croup of citizens all gathered together to raise their voices about a particular issue that was being debated by the city council. They patiently waited outside while city officials decided their fates inside. The irony is that what was going on inside had nothing to do with what was going on outside (this is a symbol of the split between government and people).
Inside the city council was debating whether or not to tear down large amounts of public housing. Thousands of citizens in New Orleans have been without housing since Hurricane Katrina and thousands more have been living in trailers without running water or electricity. On the outside the crowd was gathered together not only to protest the moral authority of a body politic that would even think about tearing down public housing when so many have not even had housing for so long. They were also protesting the utter destruction of their quality of life and the constant neglect that is the result of a corporate occupation of a city. They are fighting for the very substance and survival of the city that they love and are being systematically cleansed from.
Police officers, growing wherry of the large crowd that was gathering tried to control the situation through a means that only made the frustration of the crowd turn to anger. “They are tired of being controlled and manipulated into submission by strangers who claim to be the authorities,” one activist/friend said who called my from the event. “They are a people that feel as if they are being ethnically cleansed from their city. They feel that they have a right to be a part of any decision making process that involves their fate,” he said before hanging up the phone because things were heating up. Gathering together their human dignity they pushed through the barriers that the police erected and attempted to make their was into the city council meeting (in case it is not obvious to you, the majority in the crowd where African American).
Those unlucky enough to be in the front lines were wrestled to the ground, hit with police clubs and “electrocuted” by police who were committed to violating the human rights of American citizens. Watching this sad scene on my computer I felt as if I was watching footage from the civil rights clashes of the fifties and sixties.
What we need in this country is a new civil rights movement. A commitment to apprehend power from corporations who are stripping each and every one of us of our freedom (did you know that over 300,000 American citizens go to Tijuana every year for medical care because they can not get it in America). The citizens of this country are viewed as tools to maximize profits for corporations (this is what education has become- an organized system the trains students to become workers, or maximizers of profit. No wonder our educational system is in crisis) and if they can not do this are “washed out of the city,” as one citizen said who was apart of todays peaceful turned violent gathering. “What is happening in New Orleans is a symbol of that which is taking place in all of our souls. Anything that is diverse and unique is being flushed out and turned into a corporate ethos which turns human beings into classified consumers,” said my Buddhist Teacher when I talked to him about todays events.
If we continue to allow what is going on in New Orleans to continue we are allowing the corporate take over of our very souls. We are allowing injustice to become the norm and allowing innocent people around the world to be displaced and murdered in the name of Democracy and Freedom. Yes, I am bothered every time I see a billboard on the side of the road that says “New Orleans, The City Where Anything Goes!!” It is a blatant lie and an assault on our intelligence. Yes, I suppose anything goes in New Orleans, unless you are poor, neglected, displaced, sick, American and screaming out for freedom.