Several readers have grumbled about my having dissed New Orleans, though I thought I’d made it clear that my impressions were very fleeting ones, not to be taken too seriously. (Me: “I’m sure New Orleans has delights I did not savor, depths I did not plumb, charms I did not perceive.”) Slightly more readers agreed with my impressions.
Sample from the disagreement folder:
“Mr. Derbyshire—I noticed on your website that you live on Long Island. Perhaps I can come visit for forty-eight hours and write about your home. Having had the misfortune to come there twice before, I am exceedingly qualified by your standard. My impressions of Long Island are that it is a cesspool teeming with (mostly unwashed) humanity, stuffed with decaying, charmless buildings and populated with the insufferably rude. What more should I expect from a place whose primary claim to fame is its proximity to New York City? Alas, I haven’t a platform that reaches an audience as large as the National Review’s. Perhaps more to the point, why would I bother?”
[Me: It's "National Review," not "the National Review." And if it were "the National Review," the "the" would be capitalized, wouldn't it? And Long Islanders do occasionally wash. And we're not insuffereably rude all the time.]
From the agreement folder:
“Dear John—New Orleans is a worse city than many of the third world cities I have been to. Even before Katrina it was a national embarassment. Yes, there are charms to the city; the Garden District, the music, the fabulous restaurants, the antique shops in the French Quarter. But those charms are combined to a small square bordered by Canal Street, Rampart Street, the Mississippi River and the Garden District. The rest of the city is an umitigated disaster or crime, disfunction and poverty. New Orleans makes 1970s New York City look like an elightened city on the hill. I have been going there since college. I used to think it was great until I got to know people who had grown up there and since moved away. Basically, the ony people who love New Orleans are hipster doofuses who spend their time in the French Quarter never bothering to look at what is just across Rampart Street. It is the same mentality that causes liberals to lament the decline in crime in New York because it was part of the city’s charm. Basically, Katrina should be viewed as a Godsend. An excuse to save the few historic and chaming places in the city and bulldoze the rest.”