NEW ORLEANS. — New Orleans.-- The language of recent changes in Eastern Europe hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. For years we refered to those places as Communist, which kept them safely confined, and we spoke of them in heat metaphors. There was the Cold War, the thaw in Soviet-American relations, the Prague Spring.
And then came 1989, the year of the Meltdown. Inevitably, if one is to continue along this line, the unfreezing of these places caused some putrid corpses to come back to pseudo-life. These corpses, named variously racism, anti-Semitism, nationalism, had been frozen by communism in mid-sentence. Now they are coming back to resume their interrupted discourses where they left off.
The ''corpse'' metaphor now takes its place alongside all the others. In Romania, a discovery of shredded secret police files on dissidents has been dubbed ''the corpse of Securitate.'' Watching the cadaverous countenances of Politburo members for years gave one a pretty good idea of what the living dead looked like. Brezhnev had in fact been literally dead as he reviewed his last May Day parade.