Living in a Fool's Paradise
Nowhere in this city feels safe anymore. It used to be that tourists were told not to go off the beaten path -- stay on main streets in the Quarter and you'll be fine. Now it seems that in taking precaution, tourists could be told to go, well, nowhere.
Don't go to the House of Blues, stay away from jazz clubs in the Marigny, and for God's sake, avoid Bourbon Street at all costs.
The same thing goes for locals, only the danger zones include quiet, residential Uptown streets. Don't walk your dog at 4:30 in the afternoon -- you will surely be gunned down.
Violence is no laughing matter, but in a time when residents of this city are giving everything they have in order to keep what's ours, this constant yield to violence and danger is the greatest sacrifice. Neighborhoods have been bulldozed, friends have moved away, and that hurts. Nothing is worse, however, than constantly feeling like a potential victim in the place we call home.
What are we to do? Do we take up arms like the survivalist post-Katrina residents, guarded by hunting rifles to protect our homes and ourselves? Do we create our own gang -- fueled not by drugs but rather by a need to hold on to what little we have?
If we leave, have they won? If we stay, are we crazy? Is living a life of fear OK so long as we're living our lives in New Orleans?
New Orleans was never safe, but there was such a glimmer of hope after the storm. Crime crept back quietly at first, but we stayed strong. Then came brazen acts of violence by men who have no fear of repercussion. The things we dealt with before were hard but made easier by knowing that at least we have our city. Now this fear makes more than just a few people wonder, is this worth it?
We are living in a fool's paradise, but it suits us. We are fools and this city, dangerous and yet still unique, is our paradise.
Do The Right Thing
The Oct. 31, 2006, article by Jason Berry (Charles Foti vs. The Memorial Three) was the definitive account of the Memorial disaster. Since his authoritative work, two months have gone by, and still we wait for official action. Limbo has become the improbable home of two nurses and a doctor who share two things: impeccable reputations and lifelong records of service to fellow human beings. These three individuals were accused of murder at Memorial Medical Center in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The accusations were made in a circus-like frenzy, yet the accused now languish in a state of cruel uncertainty while the legal system decides what to do with them.
I write from a unique perspective: I recruited Dr. Anna Maria Pou to New Orleans, and as a cancer surgeon I worked closely with registered nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry for the better part of a decade at Memorial Medical Center. Dr. Pou came to us as one of the most highly respected and accomplished doctors in the nation. Budo and Landry worked at Memorial for most of their careers as intensive care nurses. They are experts at recognizing signs of distress that signal pain, suffering, and even impending death.
At a time when many hospital workers were leaving town to get out of harm's way, Pou, Budo and Landry stayed behind to take care of sick people. Now all three are prohibited from laying a finger on any patient in need, while they await news of their fate, hoping to be treated fairly by a system that has been anything but fair thus far.
I don't know [Attorney General Charles] Foti. I would like to assume his intentions were good; we all realize that allegations of this gravity must be investigated. One would hope he was simply trying to get to the truth. But the timing of the arrests, and the sensationalistic press conference at which he announced them just days before his major political fundraiser, not only looks suspicious, it smells bad.
There are important questions that ought to be addressed: What about the accusers? Has anyone examined their motives and backgrounds? Who will stay behind next time the city has to evacuate?
To judge their activities, one would have to have lived through the hell-hole circumstances that evolved at Memorial. Regardless of what has been alleged, I would put my own life in their hands, and I would do it in a heartbeat.
Mr. Jordan, dismiss this case!
Daniel W. Nuss, MD, FACS Professor and Chairman
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
LSU Health Sciences Center