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April 10th, 2013 4:00 pm
O’Reilly Speaks O-So-Wrongly About New Orleans

Bill O’Reilly quite literally has no clue what he is talking about when he trashes New Orleans by effectively endorsing Geraldo Rivera’s ignorant description of everything outside of the French Quarter as a “vast urban wasteland” and directly says that local claims to the contrary are just “putting a happy face on things that aren’t happening.” The fact is that every single word of the citizens’ groups letter to O’Reilly is true. I write this not as a native, but as somebody who has done extensive research on this for an as-yet-to-be-written story for a major publication.

In education, civic reform, entrepreneurship, flood protection, and all sorts of other areas, New Orleans actually has become a model of how to do things right. The Wall Street Journal noted as much in a recent piece, as well. Finally, as for crime, as of about 15 months ago (the last available stats I looked at), the odd truth is that while the murder rate is atrociously high (most of it concentrated in several small geographical pockets, which doesn’t make it okay but does mean that most of the city is far safer than the overall number indicates), the overall rate of violent crime per capita puts New Orleans better than at least 70 other American cities. In other words, rape, armed robbery, etcetera are all well down — and while horrid random acts of violence occur there, as they do in any city, they are actually less common than in many, many other places of the same size.

In short, O’Reilly and Rivera are just plain wrong on this one. The Crescent City is an exemplar not of urban decrepitude, but of hugely successful urban renaissance.

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