To the Editor:
In “New Orleans—An Autopsy” [September], Ben C. Toledano proves himself an excellent diagnostician of civic disease. There can be no doubt that a combination of corruption, a stultifying class system (among whites and blacks alike), and the lack of a merit-based economy were ravaging New Orleans long before Hurricane Katrina hit. Mr. Toledano is also right to skewer the elites that allowed the illness to fester. But I believe that his “autopsy” is premature; New Orleans is not dead, and it can be rebuilt.
Mr. Toledano writes of the “lost joys” of the city’s “cuisine, music, and architecture,” and suggests that for a long time they merely “masked problems of major proportions.” Maybe so. But the joys have not been altogether lost: much of the city’s cultural nucleus escaped major flooding during Katrina, and its “undeniable charms and graces” have not lost their power to attract.
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