Saturday, April 18, 2015

"There is something to be said for relationships in Louisiana"

It's easy to point out villains amongst the petty corruption of elected officials, or the offenses of a bullying, abusive police force, or the salaciousness of celebrity murderers and rapists.  There are monsters everywhere.

But the worst people in New Orleans come from the "respectable" club of paternal figures who run interference for their powerful monster friends.  The monsters run the club, of course. But they keep people like Norman Francis handy specifically for this purpose. 
There is something to be said for relationships in Louisiana. In the early years of my presidency at Xavier University, we had a vision for national expansion while remaining a major contributor in the New Orleans academic and civic communities. Our strategic approach included reaching out to build relationships with successful corporations to engage their collaboration and support. One of the early calls I made was to BP, and I was encouraged to find that it was eager to partner with us. That relationship began nearly 33 years ago and remains strong today!
There are many more like Francis in New Orleans.  They happen when a person decides he or she can do some good by being in the club and thus gaining "access" to the halls of power rather than do a lot of good by tearing down those halls altogether. This is always the immoral choice. It always serves to perpetuate and excuse the worst of the status quo.

But for the individuals who make this choice, it is quite comfortable. For them, it is the key to office, to seats on important boards, to fawning op-eds, and loving cups.  Hell, sometimes there are actual crowns involved. This is really all the ambitious climbers among us want out of life, anyway.  It's the "respectable" life.  There really is "something to be said for relationships in Louisiana." Norman Francis knows all about that.

If a "respectable" person is telling you to leave his monster friends aloonnee, just know that that person is not really respectable. They are, in fact, the worst people in town.

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