Many thousands of people fled New Orleans before or soon after Hurricane Katrina struck, and many of them (having lost their homes) remain displaced, living in various cities in the region -- Dallas; Houston; Atlanta; Jackson, Miss; Baton Rouge; and Shreveport, for example.
With the New Orleans mayoral election scheduled for April 22, several black state legislators in Louisiana had urged the state to provide satellite voting centers in other cities to serve these displaced people. Their argument was simple, yet compelling: if the federal government was able to provide satellite voting for Iraqi nationals living in the U.S., surely Louisiana could provide satellite voting for its own displaced voters.
Although the Louisiana Legislature eventually approved satellite voting, the proposal failed in an initial legislative vote. When the proposal was initially rejected, black legislators responded by walking out in protest.
A friend in Louisiana tells me he was listening to a white legislator on a talk-radio program right after this walkout, and he heard this legislator say that if black legislators didn't like the way that vote turned out, "they can go back to Africa."
The South tries hard to convince the world that it has moved on from its bigoted, racist heritage. (And in many respects, it has.) But statements like this one are not an encouraging commentary on the state of race relations in Louisiana.