Saturday, March 28, 2009

Forget that, remember this

Thanks to the Hurricane Katrina fiasco, everyone knows who Ray Nagin is -- mayor of New Orleans, would-be architect of a "Chocolate City," and official symbol of his subjects' self-imposed helplessness and sense of entitlement.

Try, if you can, to forget Ray Nagin -- and remember Dennis Walaker.

Walaker is mayor of Fargo, North Dakota, which today is under unprecedented assault by the rising waters of the Red River. And in contrast to Nagin's whiny grandstanding, Walaker is demonstrating humility and a can-do attitude reflected in the citizens of Fargo.

Shortly after learning that floodwaters were projected to crest at more than 26 feet above flood stage, Walaker said,
"We do not want to give up yet. We want to go down swinging if we go down."
The people of Fargo, like their mayor, definitely are swinging. Rather than standing around screaming, "We need help! We need help!" for the television cameras, North Dakotans, without fanfare, are volunteering by the thousands -- it's their home and they're accepting responsibility for protecting it. It's inspiring to watch.

They're getting aid from federal and state agencies, of course, including the National Guard, but they're not relying on someone else to save their city. College kids and school children are joining adult citizens in filling and deploying millions of sandbags, rescuing stranded neighbors and caring for the less-than-able.

Anyone remember seeing much of that sort of thing in New Orleans? Funny, I don't, either.

By the way, don't dare talk to me about the racial and socio-economic disparity between Fargo and New Orleans -- neither is a credible explanation for the difference in attitude between a flock of greedy sheep and a fiercely independent populace.

Likewise, there's no need to compare a hurricane to a rising river, or four days' warning of imminent natural disaster to a week's notice. No one can convince me that the people of Fargo wouldn't have thrown the same initiative into Katrina's face, or that many New Orleanians would've been inclined to stand for hours in icy water, enduring sub-freezing temperatures to stack sandbags in defense of their city.

And don't forget -- after Katrina, the City of New Orleans took action to seize more than a thousand legally owned firearms from law-abiding citizens, guns that weren't part of any criminal investigation. Nagin and his police chief left these citizens unarmed in the face of roving gangs, home invaders and other criminals.

I could be wrong about this, but I doubt seriously that we'll see the same reckless violation of Second Amendment rights in Fargo.

Speaking as a human being and fellow American, I have compassion for the people of New Orleans, even now -- but feeling bad for them, with their incompetent city government, corrupt law enforcement and collective gimme attitude, is as far as I go.

Mayor Dennis Walaker and the people of Fargo, on the other hand, have earned my respect. To the extent that I can offer more than my moral support, they'll damned sure get it.