The American character at work in post-Katrina New Orleans - Macleans.ca
 

The American character at work in post-Katrina New Orleans


 

It has been five years since the disastrous Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf of Mexico and the bordering states. Many reports this week are showing the incomplete but nonetheless significant resurgence of New Orleans. The citizens of the Gulf states, most recently affected by the BP oil spill, have endured much in the last few years. But they are examples of the American character in action—resilience and the ability to rebound have once again won the day.

What is it in the American character that promotes this capacity to recover, to reverse course when necessary and act in a way that brings progress? Some will argue that American history is full of examples where values and principles gave way to expediency. When slavery was abolished, segregation soon took its place. Yet today, America is governed by an African-American. It may take time, but it seems this most influential of all nations eventually gets it right.

The ongoing resurgence of New Orleans, the resistance to despondency by New Yorkers after the terrible events of 9/11, and the ability to revisit decisions like the one to go to war in Iraq speak to the nature of the American character. The mood in America has been decried of late as angry, with the rise of the Tea Party and the bitter debate over the Ground Zero mosque cited as evidence. This weekend Glenn Beck will deliver an angry address at the Lincoln Memorial, an attempt to simulate the Second Coming or his version of Martin Luther King’s  “I Have a Dream” speech. Meanwhile, the upcoming election cycle has already been interpreted as a rejection of America’s current course of action. But somehow Americans will make it through this period of fierce polarization. The one consistent trait of this country is its character. Five years after Katrina, that much should be clear.

[John Parisella is currently serving as Quebec’s Delegate General in New York City]


 

The American character at work in post-Katrina New Orleans

  1. What a ridiculous post. So if Halifax got swamped by a hurricane, five years later it would still be in shambles because we don't possess "American character"? And the fact that there's a black president somehow makes up for the immense amount of time it took Americans to give African Americans equal rights?

    And I'm sorry, but "American character" accounts for the existence of idiots like Glenn Beck every bit as much as it explains that "America will make it though this period of fierce polarization."

  2. Emily, this appears to be one of your better comments. Short.

    • My comments are always short. And people complain about it. LOL

      • Immensely wrong. But short.

        • Ahhh someone who doesn't like the truth, and doesn't have any knowledge of the world.

          Obviously you're a Con.

          • Three strikes. You're out. (That's an American sports metaphor!)

          • I'm not out, hon. You are.

            She shoots, she scores. That's a CANADIAN sports metaphor.

          • Actually, despite what you may perceive as inherent gender bias and lack of political correctness, the phrase is properly: "He shoots. He scores!" Feel free to make a note for your future reference.

            Are there other Canadianisms with which I may assist you?

          • Women won gold, dude.

            Now, if you'd actually like to discuss the article, fine…otherwise go watch TV.

          • Emily is the early bird , almost always with the first worm or pithy comment. Oops, sorry, I mispelled that.

          • And if my name was Fred or Harry you guys wouldn't waste all your posts attacking me personally, and would instead stick to the topic.

          • Did that, below, "hon". Not particularly deep, but it beats "Barf".

          • 'Barf' summed it up.

            Tipping the butter boat is always disgusting.

  3. BG, Bob, did you even read the post or just leap to exhibiting that character trait all too common here: US envy/loathing.

    The point is that despite making what are sometimes massive errors and more than occasionally losing their way, America and Americans always seem to find their way back to being an example that the planet would be better off to follow than to reject. There was no suggestion that America is without faults. What nation is?

    The Becks and Palins were preceded by the likes of McCarthy. The cycle continues and as sure as McCarthy was dispatched, so too will America eventually dispatch today's analogues.

    America's not perfect but it's a damn sight better than virtually all the alternatives.

    • I actually agree with your last line. But I still think this post seems frivolous and pointless.

    • Individually Americans are often nice people.

      Collectively Americans are Romans Redux.

      They are told from the instant of birth that to be American means they are especially blessed by God, and have 'exceptionalism'…..ie….they are not subject to the forces of history, don't need to learn anything from anybody, and were meant to rule the world.

      We know how well that worked out for Rome…and we can see it's doing the same for America.

      Stop slavering over them, and offering them flowery compliments, and 'tribute' from your 'vassal state'.

      It only encourages their vanity.

      This article wasn't just 'buttering up'….it's tipping the butter boat over them.

      A waste of time and butter.

      Because when push came to shove…as it always does….only Romans were citizens, not their vassal states….who were told to go fu*k themselves. Americans are the same.

      If you insist on being something other than Canadian…pick anything but American. They have no future.

      • Totally agree. The Empire is on its way down, and we're seeing confusion and frightened bewilderment about how the Last Best Hope and City on the Hill thing isn't working out. How more and more of the world (with, apparently, the exception of the writer of this article) is less and less impressed or intimidated, despite the bankrupt militaristic facade. This ungraceful decline is accompanied by the denial, acting out, casting of blame, and defensive grandiosity characteristic of narcissism. I'd feel sorry for them if they deserved it. Individual Americans may be all right, but they're nearly all clueless. Unfortunately those least responsible for the debacle will suffer the most.

  4. The Americans will always do the right thing, after they've exhausted all the alternatives. — Winston Churchill
    (various versions)

  5. Character ?Hogwash !!TeaParty bigots ,racists hating anything Obama does ,sleaze bag hypocritical and fear mongering Republicans. They can rebuild after a disaster but with the racist conservative movement including Beck and Limbaugh , they do not deserve the term character . OBAMA is too good for them if they elect the bigoted Republicans in November . So I challenge this blog as long as Republicans stand to win midterms .And Katrina ? Does anyone miss Bush ?

    • I appreciate that you simply cannot fathom that people will object to Obama's far left policies which has in turn created the greatest deficit mankind has ever seen,

      as so must delegitimize his opponents as racists. The cry of racism is the last refuge of a liberal amidst his failing policies and underscores the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of today's left.

      That so many prominent liberals in the US have tacitly admitted this bankruptcy only shows how fast the left has fallen. We will see the results of this come November.

      • after looking back to the years of Republican neglect and deficit spending and incompetence where we are now remembering katrina, you should ashamed . Far left ? he gave the private insurance industry 32 million new clients . This just shows how ignorant some on the right are .

  6. But somehow Americans will make it through this period of fierce polarization.

    Uh, ok. Good luck to them. Do they have a "Chapter 11" process for thirty-odd states and the whole of the nation itself? Which creditors do you think they'll stiff?

  7. God Bless America – and I mean it.

    • If you were a christian, you'd have said God bless everybody.

  8. "But somehow Americans will make it through this fierce period of polarization."

    Americans will John, but Obama won't.

  9. here you go again ,jarrid. Conservatives bashing Obama . The Examoner?A conservative rag . You prove my point . Americana are hated because of the right wing kooks.

  10. Jarrid,

    The numbers were even more startling when the amounts to Obama were examined:

    with Obama receiving percentage in the high ninties. In short, virtually all journos are left leaning.

    Of course this comes as no surprise, and corresponds to every other study on the matter, and as reflected in the type, manner and style of "reporting" and "analysis" we've seen from old media.

    When a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, jumps out of the stands and dons a referee's jersey, with intent to bring about the "correct" result, against the Canadiens, the game would be brought into disrepute.

    Judging from Gallups recent survey looking at the respect for "journalists", it appears that the disrepute in the media has indeed taken hold.

  11. As for the subject at hand,

    Watching the self loathing of the American Left (or more accurately the loathing of the Liberal elites towards the masses of unsophisticates who just can't understand the "correct" path to a utopic America) in the context of her historical greatness is truly mind boggling.

    No country has liberated the worlds' oppressed than America, and a great cost to life and treasure – yet the left dares to morally equate her imperfections to the brutality of dictatorial thugs.

    No country has created more wealth and prosperity for the world, yet the left scorns her for the "inequality" that very wealth generates. She's improved all our lives to be sure, but that some improved more than others, brings about scorn rooted in the dastardly Marxist thought imbedded in the leftists.

  12. No country has been more charitable to the world's needy (charity from the US outpaces the rest by a long shot), none so quick to respond to calamity (the US navy responding to the Tsunami), and most importanly,

    no country has stood against the tyranny of authoritarianism and for the promotion of freedom than the US.

    Yet when she does so, she is met by jeering at the inevitable inperfect manner in which she carries it out.

    The American character is something truly to behold. As are the dark forces that would love nothing more than to see her brought down a peg.

    • Well you go suck up pal. Groveling seems to be your thing.

  13. The American experiment was truly revolutionary when first begun and introduced many interesting and important notions into western thought and politics.

    In the last half century they've fallen dreadfully behind in most areas, however.

    • No doubt due to progressivism, the botched welfare state, and the drifting from their core principles.

      Thankfully, it'll be on its way to a healthy correction this fall, now that Americans are overwhelmingly coming to the agreement that big government is bad government.

      • America isn't going to 'recover'.

        Imperial overstretch did them in….they don't have progressivism, welfare, or core principles.

        Americans have always been anti-govt…it's what they started on. Repubs have however constantly made it bigger…along with the deficit and debt.

        • I agree with you somewhat on your last point. In my estimation, the correction will be in large part a rejection by conservatives or conservative leaning independents of the big government Republican variety. Core conservativism is back on top, and many Republican primaries are showing that.

          • LOL there isn't an ounce of conservatism in it. Anymore than Dems are progressive.

      • You know Chet you remind me of Beck . Just cliches , no depth , just out to polarize . Actually worse than Beck . You sound like dimwit dingbat PALIN !!!

        • Well of course you would lash out with name calling by virtue of the fact that I dare espouse a world view not of your own.

          How very tolerant of you.

          • A world view? More like the view from your front porch.

          • Is that Russia?

          • dear chet ,
            I apologize for being intolerant . After all ,you support a conservative movement that has opposed all civil rights legislation , proposed a const'l amendement against gay marriage , wants to bring back the back ally abortion by overturning Roe v.wade, starts wars with lies as your conservative pals did in Iraq, sanction waterboarding ,opposed the equal rights amendment ,set up Gitmo ,fear monger on the Mosque at Ground Zero ,have heroes like Strom Thurmond ,Jesse Helms, Beck and Limbaugh , call Obama a racist and I could go on and on . So I was wrong to say you were like Palin who does everything to unify Americans , to be generous , to handle the tough questions with ease when Katie Couric asks them . So that is the the world view you espouse. So I will have to be as tolerant and generous as that great conservative movement you believe in so much . Nice work , Chet.

  14. Speaking of American Character,

    Upwards of 500,000 people gathered for Glen Beck's patriot rally at the Lincoln Mermorial. Wow!

    And wow to the fact that Cindy Sheehan and 20 anti-war types camped outside of Bush's ranch will have garnered tenfold the "media" coverage of this awe inspiring rally.

    Then again, twenty or so people with the "correct" views is far more newsworthy than half a million with "incorrect" ones.

  15. Thing that gets me….NO is not only still a mess, but you'd think no other country ever cleaned up after a disaster before!

    I don't know how this is 'unique' to America. LOL

    • I just can't handle how the same errors that lead to the destruction of New Orleans in the first place are essentially being re-instated. It's like they didn't learn a thing after Katrina.

  16. The American economy, and hence its way of life, is a house of cards. It is dependent on money printing, credit, and unsustainable entitlement. Recovery is a long shot.

    I am afraid that "resurgence" is too optimistic and unrealistic in describing NOLA. Of course New Orleans is slowly being rebuilt, but that was to be expected. It is home for a lot of people. But to think that the rebuilding of New Orleans parallels the fortunes of the United States is being too hopeful.

    300 million people collectively believing they have a right to their cheap gas and SUVs, LCD TVs, iPhones, and wars in the name of "freedom" (as their government defines it), all in their hands with no money to pay for it, will eventually lead to a downfall.

  17. You know? In the big picture, $1 million bucks, for ALL those supposedly "leftist" journalist, is not all that much money! Try comparing that to the millions that corporate and banking types donate!

    • Talk about missing the point!

      The media, who decide what gets reported and what doesn't and also decides how a story is reported is overwhelmingly left/lib. Look up the word "bias" my friend.

      • jarrid
        Fox News gives 1 million dollars to the RNC!!talk about bias . My point is made , pal .

      • I've said this before, but perhaps it bears repeating. The "media" is NOT some sort of public service, it IS business, and its interests are focused on staying in business and being profitable. To do that, they have to attract advertisers, who for the most part are corporations of one kind or another. To attract advertisors, they CANNOT pose questions that fundamentally challenge the status quo, especially the parts involving the sustainability of a consumption-based society or the political system that is most heavily influenced by commercial and financial interests. Therefore, the "range" of discussion is actually quite limited in the "mainstream" media, and politics is reduced to a horse race.

        Controversy brings eyeballs to print and screen; criticizing the governing party is the easiest (and laziest!) way of doing this…it's really not "personal", it's institutionalized.

        • Oh, and further to that, the sooner that the CPC gets its collective head around the fact that criticism of its' policies is NOT personal (unlike, say, political ads that it sponsors itself!), the sooner it will learn to manage its media relations in a manner more sophisticated than simply "battening down the hatches", which is easily perceived and portrayed as being "secretive"…whether or not it actually has something to hide. THAT message is totally contradicts previously stated intentions to run an "open and transparent" government, and furthers the notion that the CPC cannot be trusted.

      • I'll grant that individual journalists MAY tend to the left, but that's more than likely because their individual experiences of the world necessarily see its shortcomings(hence, not many stories about how things are working so well), much as a police officer's experience of the world may lead them to believe that everyone is a criminal of one kind or another (except other police officers!).

        In the main, however, the producers and publishers of "the media" do NOT rock the boat in any fundamental way, because their interests coincide generally with the interests of their commercial supporters. So, if there is a "bias", it's a bias to supporting the status quo, which by definition is "conservative".

  18. From all these posts a general trend of grand Canadiana appears.
    Why do Canadians always seem to be so self righteous and smug.
    Is quite embarrassing. This country is pleasant enough but the the problem is Canada has too many Canadians.

    • So what is your point ?