When a new honorary consul was appointed in New Orleans, one blogger was quick to denigrate the position by calling it “stupid.” He/she then said it’s an excuse for Old Liners (whatever that may refer to) to get special license plates and their picture in the local society pages.
When I read things like that I’m thrilled that there’s now an easy-to-read resource for anyone agreeing with that blogger. The Foreign Consuls Among Us: Local Bridges to Globalism dispels the old myth that the position of an honorary consul is merely an honor that doesn’t require any effort or output by him.
Honorary consuls are, like career consuls, the official representatives of a foreign nation, with authority to function in a specified area of the United States. When we show respect for an honorary consul we show respect for the country he represents. Calling his position “stupid” shows only ignorance and a lack of understanding for who consuls really are.
Another blogger responded to the post by correctly pointing out honorary consuls “get us foreign investment.” Although there’s been no study done on how much economic benefit is directly derived from having a consular presence in a community, we must remember that promotion of trade is among the specific functions of any consul, honorary or career. The person who envies any special privilege a consul might enjoy in his position has much to learn.
Let’s hope Frank Maselli, the new honorary consul of Italy in New Orleans, does not get discouraged by blog posts like the above. I know several consuls who’d rather have more time for their important consular work than their picture in the local society paper.