Dear Washington Post

Next time you write a slightly snide editorial about my city (not yours), please bother getting your facts straight. But then your paper and "facts" have a rocky relationship.

Contrary to your assertion, New Orleans doesn't have 1.5 million residents. Perhaps you were thinking of the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area, which according to the 2000 census has (had) 1,337,726 residents (closer to 1.3 or 1.4 million). New Orleans proper has (had) only 484,674 residents. It was New Orleans proper that got flooded; most of the surrounding area did not.

This is an important distinction. Most of the hundreds of thousands of residents outside New Orleans proper have returned. If you don't believe me, try one of the traffic cams on nola.com. The heavy traffic in Metairie and Kenner isn't from contractors, and it's not contractors I stand behind in line at Bed, Bath & Beyond, nor is it contractors I overhear discussing damage to their houses.

Now it's true that most of New Orleans' former 484,674 residents (note: not 1.5 or even 1.4 million) haven't returned, because most of the city is without power and most of the houses are uninhabitable. But in the habitable parts of town, there's plenty of traffic, and not from contractors. Unless all the cars lining my residential street are those of contractors who've taken up residence in my former neighbors' houses. And most of the people at restaurants and in grocery stores (long lines of people) appear to be residents--perhaps by subterfuge. There are even lots of tourists in the French Quarter, and this weekend, when the zoo reopened, you couldn't find a parking place for acres (lots of contractors, I guess, pushing all those strollers). Would you like me to take some pictures for you? The fact is, the livable parts of New Orleans are full, and more lights come on every day. People are coming back and cleaning up. But then you wouldn't know that, because you didn't bother to look. You didn't even bother to read the census.

There's a reason why getting your facts straight is important, even when it doesn't involve misleading your country into war. When you don't get your facts straight, you mislead your readers, some of which are in positions of power. When they read that most residents of "New Orleans" haven't returned, they might think that New Orleans is a dead city, when it is not. And they might hesitate to rebuild it. And if they don't rebuild it, they can find some other port to ship all their precious cargo through and some other swamp to run their oil pipelines through, because this strategic port will be gone, and many of the refineries and pipelines that feed the greedy American beast will be gone with it.

And, in part, that will be your fault.

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