La bufera infernal
So, with this hurricane thing we’re already starting to see, and will probably continue to see (maybe by the time this is published, since certain difficulties prohibit me from writing this over the weekend as I usually do. This, combined with the fact that I’m only writing this because I take my commitments seriously and would rather limit my involvement with this site and the hurricane for the moment to finding out that David and Eric are fine, will explain why this is relatively short), a particularly rewarding type of stupidity: the moral cause and effect game. This is mostly seen in remarks made by partisan moralists wanting to blame something that’s not their fault on those ideologically opposed to them.
I first read about this (in this case) in an article about German media reactions to the hurricane: the more conservative reporters and pundits just treated it as a natural disaster and the more liberal ones intimated that Bush was reaping what he had sown and that recent natural disasters were caused by US business practices. I hate to defend Bush or US businesses and I’m certainly not one of those ‘global warming is an invention of the jew-run liberal media’ types, but I do try to avoid being bullshitted even by those who oppose the same people as I do, and it’s a mistake to think of climatology in linear causal terms. A hurricane hitting an inconveniently located and well-liked city like New Orleans is not really a time to launch into anti-Bush polemics. The appropriate time for that is whenever he says anything. Get it right.
Now, what I haven’t yet seen but expect to see at any point (and what very well may have shown up by the time this article is posted) is commentary from some far-right, well-known, and generally considered loony but respected by enough of the population to be considered influential Christian nutjob, blaming the hurricane on the iniquity for which New Orleans is famous. Those of you with memories extending back to slightly less than four years ago or further will remember Jerry Falwell taking the opportunity to blame the terrorist attacks in New York on abortionists, the ACLU, and others for ‘mocking God’ (‘God will not be mocked.’ Indeed), and his pal, the equally famous Pat Robertson agreed right down the line. I haven’t heard this yet, but it’s gotta be coming considering New Orleans’s reputation for being a fun place to visit and the persisting belief in Old Testament-style divine retribution in such people as the aforementioned good reverends.
So, why is all this stupidity? Isn't this actually really smart, since it makes one’s enemy, man or behavior or whatever it may be, seem like even more of a monster, thereby causing those who already disliked it to hate it even more and work even harder to destroy it? Well, kinda, but most of the choir being preached to will just smile complacently at the confirmation of being right and then go about their regular business. Beyond that, to anybody but those who only need to hear these arguments as near-constant reaffirmations of their beliefs without the effort of research or posing questions with any seriousness. Besides which, it’s just out-and-out lying that these people believe as they say it, which is just fuckin’ stupid.
One final place the blame has been cast lately (mostly by those on the internet) is on the people who chose to live in New Orleans, a city sitting below sea level, between the ocean and the Mississippi, with nothing but blind luck to protect it from the elements. One of those ‘they deserve what they get for living in such a stupid place’ deals, which is along the lines of a ‘she was asking for it’ argument with a bit more weight to it. Not much more, though. This kind of attitude is fairly common among people who live absolutely safe lives in absolutely safe parts of the country: Why continue living in a place prone to flooding/tornados/earthquakes/etc? Anybody choosing to do so, they say, deserves what’s coming to him when it comes. There’s some truth to this argument, in that somebody who understands the danger of living in such a place and continues to do so anyway takes responsibility for his own actions, but that doesn’t make his becoming a victim his fault. He’s responsible for living there, but not for being douched by a hurricane. Hopefully this distinction is clear.
That’s it for today. I won’t be able to post for the next two weeks or so, so either there will be a guest columnist or the Mondays of my potentially non-existent readership will be slightly more hollow. Either way, enjoy the next few weeks, and stay safe.