It might seem to the rest of the country that New Orleanians are insular and self-absorbed. There’s some truth to that; sometimes this place feels like a distant province of the United States rather than a part of the mainland. But events like the terrorist attacks of September 11th touch us all, and after suffering through a major (not entirely natural) disaster ourselves, I think most New Orleanians feel a special sympathy for New Yorkers. I have seen grown men cry here at the mere mention of September 11th, even after all these years.
Of all our national ideals, freedom of speech and religion, pluralism and tolerance are the ones that inspire me the most. Lately they seem to be crumbling as tensions increase between Christians and Muslims in this country. That, of course, was part of the terrorists’ aim. It’s not clear to me whether or not we have passed the point of no return. I hope not.