Some updated information for those who challenged Jim Carignan’s column (Sept. 18) about the supposed “looting, rapes, robberies and killings in New Orleans.” I did not see Carignan’s original column, but I did read the following in the New York Times on Sept. 25:

“… A review of the available evidence now shows that some, though not all, of the most alarming stories that coursed through the city appear to be little more than figments of frightened imaginations, the product of chaotic circumstances that included no reliable communications, and perhaps the residue of the longstanding raw relations between some police officers and members of the public.”

It continues, “Superintendent Compass [who has since resigned] said that some of his most shocking statements turned out to be untrue. Asked about reports of rapes and murders, he said: We have no official reports to document any murder. Not one official report of rape or sexual assault.'”

I wonder if New Orleans had been a predominantly white city, if those wild, totally unsubstantiated charges would even have been made. That’s where racist thinking comes in.

It is difficult to undo false pronouncements made by public officials, as we know from President Bush’s false equation of Sept. 11 with Saddam Hussein, especially when they fit in with people’s racist preconceptions.

I hope continuing investigations will help to restore the reputation of the people of New Orleans, who coped heroically under the direst of circumstances.

Joan Braun, Weld