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September 04, 2005

Ledeen: NOLA was a death cult anyway

I can't say that Michael Ledeen's latest essay is sophistry--sophists use arguments.

Here's a representative passage from Ledeen's essay:

As we mourn New Orleans, let us also celebrate it, as New Orleanians famously celebrate their own dead. The city has long been admired for its literary creativity, its exceptional food, and its wonderful music, and deplored — albeit also frequented — because of its legendary corruption and degradation. The possibility of its destruction no doubt played a role in the character of its people, and it is no accident that an annual bacchanal took place there, in the riotous celebrations of Mardi Gras. Death has always been omnipresent in the consciousness of the city; dancing in defiance of death was the city's trademark, and the spirited music that defined New Orleans for much of the world was played at the happiest occasions, and at the most famous funerals. [NRO]

The main thrust of the piece is something like this: It's romantic that New Orleans was destroyed, like its diseased (sic) inhabitants always knew it would be. You see, the killer flood is a bittersweet irony because New Orleans culture was a sensual death cult rooted in resignation to self-destruction. New Orleans would never have been so special if it had been safe and disease-free all these years. Cultures are sooo cute under the continual specter of annihilation!

Ledeen's essay reminded me of someone else who's been publicly preoccupied with the destruction of the decadent:

Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also sees God's mercy in the aftermath of Katrina -- but in a different way. Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.

The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as "Southern Decadence" -- an annual six-day "gay pride" event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week -- God's judgment would be felt.

“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again." [Agape Press]

Unlike Shanks, Ledeen isn't happy that NOLA was washed away. He doesn't say that all those sinners deserved to die. But if he's making any point at all, it's that the inhabitants of New Orleans were asking for it. In a purely non-moral sense, of course. To Ledeen the deaths of 10,000 innocent people isn't retributive so much as ironic.

I'd like to hear Ledeen explain his crackpot theory to the residents of the Astrodome. The timeless methaphor of the flood as ethnic cleansing should go over well.


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There's a slight problem with your links.

So a culture that chooses to celebrate the life of a person who has passed away is a "death cult?" Well, Ireland better watch out 'cause all those wakes are about to come back to haunt it.

Don't forget that Ledeen also channels James Jesus Angleton.

Links fixed. Thanks for letting me know.

Since when is sex equivalent to death? We're not mayflies or praying mantises, we're people.

I can't help but note the appelation indicating that the second quote came from "Agape Press". It can be ready as a synonym for brotherly love or as one's jaw dropping. I think the latter is more apt.

So does Ledeen's prose at least qualify as a really dumb try at a dark romantic meditation? I can't tell from the passage quoted, but I'm not reading any more of it.

I'm sure we'll hear more about the Sodom and Gomorrah view. There is no way rightwing lunatics will resist that one.

As the resident right-wing lunatic, I'd like to point out that (1) Bill Shanks is a crank and carries no weight with me whatsoever - were I a deity and sufficiently offended, I could think of quite a few cities I'd take out before I got around to New Orleans; and (2) Ledeen's antepenultimate sentence - "Doomed cities with an intimate relationship with the dead are special places, incubators of exceptional qualities of spirit and thus of extraordinary inventiveness" - seems less like an invocation of synthetic irony than a call to get up and dance while you can. Then again, I always was a lousy dancer.

Gary: Gomorrah as in "give me gomorrah tax cuts"? Oh, wait. Wrong story. This one only has sex in it. :D

Give Ledeen some credit--he didn't try to link the disaster in New Orleans to the urgent need to invade Iran.

In this essay, Ledeen shows himself to be one of those people who thinks that he reveals an uncommon insightfulness by looking beyond the mundane, human catastrophe: "If we have lost one of those cities to the forces of nature, it will impoverish our world far beyond the enormous human tragedy."

By looking beyond the agony of those who have lost loved ones in the flood, he can sigh in whistful melancholy at the loss of all the great novels and plays that might have been inspired by the corrupt, doomed metropolis.

Ah, yes, Michael--if only those of us still reeling from the shock of all those deaths could see that those people were only transient. The loss of this romantic version of New Orleans that you've constructed, the city where nobody works, and where we northerners can indulge our dark passions, that loss is what's really important.

Answer: sex is equivalent to life.

Agape..."brotherly love" and "jaw dropping"...obviously gay...

More Gomorrah. Rick Scarborough of the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration elucidates:

'One other factor which must be considered: Days before Katrina nearly wiped New Orleans off the map, 9,000 Jewish residents of Gaza were driven from their homes with the full support of the United States government. Could this be a playing out of prophesy ("I will bless that nation that blesses you, and curse the nation that curses you")?'

I promise this is only the beginning.


I couldn't help noticing that this happened right after Bush and Frist endorsed Intelligent Design. Maybe God is punishing us because He's an atheist.

"If you want to go to Hell, you should take a trip to this Sodom and Gomorrah on the Mississippi"

-quoth "The Simpsons".

Sure.. "sex is life"... It's orgasms that are "death".

I suppose the "impending doom" is what makes 'Frisco such a friendly, sinner's mecca, too.

Re "Days before Katrina nearly wiped New Orleans off the map, 9,000 Jewish residents of Gaza were driven from their homes with the full support of the United States government. Could this be a playing out of prophesy.."
Yup- in the same vein that the Israeli pilot cum astronaut who had been part of the destruction of Iraq's atomic energy program came down in flames over Palestine, Texas.

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