A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lessons in Gratitude

Last week, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin toured Philadelphia with city officials for the purpose of seeing the progress our city has made with revitalizing certain neighborhoods. At the time of the visit, he graciously thanked city officials for the tour, returned home and spoke to a community group in his own city about the trash he saw in the City of Brotherly Love. Naturally, this raised a few eyebrows here, and Nagin (to his credit) quickly apologized for any disrespect his comments may have conveyed.

Nagin’s point in speaking to his hometown group was that New Orleans, while still staggering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, is still cleaner than Philadelphia. This is a very old technique called “hooray for us/boo on them”. It is designed to make yourself look good by telling everyone how horrible the other guy is. This technique is used in politics, and I believe many major organized religions have also used it down through the centuries. In a worst case scenario, this is called ethnocentrism, which can lead to hatred, bigotry, prejudice, and genocide (in that order). However, that’s an extreme example.

Ironically, many people feel that Nagin is correct. Philadelphia is a dirty city and has been that way for as long as I can remember. Still, my point is that his comments so close on the heels of his visit weren’t exactly the most sincere way to show his appreciation for the city tour. With this in mind, I had to wonder how Mayor Nagin handled other expressions of gratitude in recent years.

For example, there would have been this letter to FEMA:

Dear FEMA,

I just wanted to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to your agency for the way you totally abandoned my city during Hurricane Katrina. Our citizens were left behind to fend for themselves as the levees broke and the waters rose around their homes. We lost thousands of people and millions in property damage. Even worse has been the aftermath: many New Orleanians are scattered around the country, and many others who came back are living on the streets and under bridges. I realize now that disaster preparedness is not your area of expertise, since most of your most experienced people have resigned, and have been replaced by unskilled toadies loyal to the President. I find this most ironic, but in Washington I realize that this is business as usual.


Ray Nagin
Mayor of New Orleans

Or how about a letter to the President himself:

Dear President Bush,

I just wanted to write a quick note to thank you for the absolutely sloppy job your administration has done in helping rebuild New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. Your promises to bring back our great city are hollow and empty. It never ceases to amaze me that the Executive Branch can reach such high levels of incompetence as has been seen in your tenure. I hope you realize that, despite my opinions, I am not intending any disrespect towards you in my remarks.


Ray Nagin,
Mayor of New Orleans

P.S. Just as an FYI, the Ninth Ward is still a mess, but I guess all things considered, it’s still cleaner than Philadelphia.

(NOTE: The preceding was a work of satirical fiction. No actual correspondence resembling these notes was sent from the Office of the Mayor in New Orleans.)


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