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An average American that has some thoughts on politics, culture, and society with a conservative and Catholic twist.

Location: Louisiana, United States
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Jews, Backward Baton Rouge, and Bigoted Louisiana

Last night after the Louisiana Secretary of State's race results were in, I remembered a very annoying article that appeared on a liberal internet site.

A few months ago on the Huffington Post the following appeared:
".....Now, I lived in Baton Rouge from age 1 to 14. A more assertively provincial, narrow-minded, anti-progressive, anti-New South place you could not hope to find. The people who choose to occupy its many lifeless, cookie-cutter subdivisions are defined by the fact that they hate New Orleans and everything that it represents: crime, culture, city life writ large. Three of my defining experiences of growing up there were 1) the David Duke campaign for governor, 2) dealing with anti-Semitic taunting and harassment throughout elementary school, including from a self-styled "neo-Nazi" in 6th grade, and 3) the murder of Yoshi Hattori, a Japanese exchange student who was living with some family friends of ours. He was shot because he went to the wrong house looking for a Halloween party, and the homeowner, Rodney Peairs, a meat cutter at Winn Dixie, didn't like his looks. After some well-coached crying on the witness stand, Peairs got off."

This of course is more than just Louisiana bashing. It pretty much is bashing of conservatives and people that think a tad different out side the LA and New York mindset. There are several things wrong about her article. First EBR Parish was not a stronghold of Duke support. The shooting cases she references is both tragic and complex. Racism had little to do with it.

However, we Louisiana folks as well as other Southerners need to respond to these charges. I have talked to people from out west and up north that have moved to Louisiana that are overwhelmed with relief after a few months living here. Why? Because they literally thought most of the State were going to KLAN rallies before they arrived. Also believe it or not people sometimes do not move businesses down here because of these printed and widely circulated sterotypes.

Why did the Secretary of State's race come to mind? Well because Republican State Senator Jay Dardenne made the runoff. Jay Dardenne is a Jew and has been a state Senator from Baton Rouge for a number of years. That didn't make the above article. Maybe because it is because he is Republican. Well last night Jay won a spirited race, that included another Republican, to advance to the runoff. Lets looks at the result from the Parish where the above misguided author lived:
Among the main three the results were in East Baton Rouge-

(r)Dardenne 34,428
(r)Francis 6,951
(D) Heitmeier12,998

Just for giggles lets look at neighboring Livingston Parish that is a bedroom community of Baton Rouge

(r) Dardenne 8,579
(r) Francis 2,655
(D) 2,804

For those curious see the State wide results here.

I don't mean to pick on the above author of this piece. Children can be cruel and sometimes it leaves a scar. But the point here is much larger than the above piece. Sen Jay Dardenne has a been a State Republican Senator from Baton Rouge for a number of years. He is highly respected. He also just happens to be Jewish .There is a good chance he will become the new Louisiana Secretary of State. People might have disagreed with Jay Dardenne on issues but his Jewish faith has never been a issue. It appears it was not a issue state wide either. If any canidate had brought it up they would have been politically castrated by ordinary Louisiana and Baton Rouge folks. I could go on and on.

Louisiana is not all roses to say the least. But using sterotypes for some agenda is not helpful for the advancement of this state or the nation. The above Huffington post piece is just an example of journalistic pieces that one often sees and often causes us to roll our eyes. In post Katrina Louisiana we can't afford economically to ignore such things anymore.

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Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Pondering: I often wander when people whine about a place with that much vitriol do they make any personal effort at all to understand the place for what IT is. Or, do they just compare it to the "glorious" metropolis' of LA and NY? We get a lot of that complaining in Minnesota too. No, we are not LA or NY but make a fair effort, please, to understand us for what we are and are not.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest!

But, we are AL Central champs-yeah!

8:29 AM  
Blogger Pondering American said...

Good point. It frustrates me also. I suppose that is why this stuff drives me up the wall. I realize that people from my region are guilty of times of sterotypes because of ignorance. However the difference is it seems that the people who are of influence in communication and media don't seem to realize they have a added responsibility to make sure they get it right.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

It's not as if NOLA were some liberal haven, either. The contempt of outstaters for us is only one part racial. This is so common a division between one metro area in a state and everyone else that there is some more global issue going on.

I agree that this sort of thing is bad for all of us, in BR or elsewhere. Of all of the handicaps we have in attracting people and business, this is probably not one of them.

I've said more than once that it think Jihndal only lost last time becuase just enough people were to uncomfortable with him racially. They weren't ready to get over that yet. But I wouldn't suggest that's a majority, just enough of a small majority to have cost him the election.

As much of a die-hard Democrat as I am, I think if Jihndal were to win a statewide election, it would send a very positive signal to the rest of the nation about Louisiana. Electing Dardanne (and yes, I voted for Heitmieri; I couldn't seem to stay my party-line voting hand) I'm going to think real hard about this race in the run-off, and consider not just the two candidates more closely, but the message a Dardanne victory would send.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Dangle 24-7 said...

I am curious. Did the author mention Kip Holden? In fact, (and I know you only printed an excerpt), it appears she does a good job of profiling people of a community based on a few in what I assume to be a distant past.

7:14 AM  

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