Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

"Where was God?"

Niall Ferguson asks this age-old question in relation to Katrina. Voltaire would have used it as evidence of God’s non-existence; Leibniz would have claimed it was all part of some larger plan, incomprehensible to the limited vision of human beings; John Wesley would have cited it as proof of God’s judgment of sinners. Few Christians today will echo Wesley’s line, but some Muslims are already doing it, talking about "Private Katrina" as a recruit in the "global jihad":

It would be hard to get more tasteless. Yet the same underlying impulse — to interpret the disaster as confirmation of one’s own ideological position — was at work among many American liberals too. Opponents of the war in Iraq were not slow to point out that National Guardsmen who should have been on hand to rescue hurricane victims were instead failing to prevent lethal stampedes in faraway Baghdad.

Ferguson concludes that it is pointless to try to find moral significance in natural disasters:

Natural disasters — please, let’s not call them "acts of God" — killed many more people than international terrorism that year (according to the State Department, total casualties because of terrorism in 2003 were 4,271, of whom precisely none were in North America).

On the other hand, disasters kill many fewer people each year than heart disease (around 7 million), HIV/AIDS (around 3 million) and road traffic accidents (around 1 million). No doubt if all the heart attacks or car crashes happened in a single day in a single city, we would pay them more attention than we do.

As Voltaire understood, hurricanes, like earthquakes, should serve to remind us of our common vulnerability as human beings in the face of a pitiless nature.

Discussions - 14 Comments

People are always looking for portends in natural events. The tendency is built deep into the species (I have no idea why), but neither education nor experience seem to erase this tendency. It goes with other mental habits such as "magical thinking" and "generalizing from a single event." In lots of ways, our caveman brains fail us.

Actually there are plenty of "Christian" right groups blaming the victims of NO in Wesleyian fashion.

Columbia Christians for Life:

"The image of the hurricane . . . with its eye already ashore at 12:32 p.m. Monday, August 29, looks like a fetus (unborn human baby) facing to the left (west) in the womb, in the early weeks of gestation (approx. 6 weeks)...

"Louisiana has 10 child-murder-by-abortion centers," the groups says, and "five are in New Orleans."

Another gem from Repent America:

"Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city," stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. "From ’Girls Gone Wild’ to ’Southern Decadence,’ New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. From the devastation may a city full of righteousness emerge," he continued.

New Orleans is also known for its Mardi Gras parties where thousands of drunken men revel in the streets to exchange plastic jewelry for drunken women to expose their breasts. This annual event sparked the creation of the "Girls Gone Wild" video series.

"We must help and pray for those ravaged by this disaster, but let us not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long," Marcavage said. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God," Marcavage concluded.

"[God] sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)

We all know whom the left is and will try to hold accountable for the tragedy in NO, but how does the right even begin to address, wild eyed, bible thumping, lunatics like these?

I hope it’s not a feeble - "they don’t speak for us." Ummm - yes they do. Just witness the rallying around Robertson recently, in spite of the taped record, many on the right claimed he never said "assassinate". By giving the religous right a political voice (simply because you need there votes) you not only allow this kind of hate to be possible you condone it in your silence to condemn it.

Nice try, rudgrl. Who are these "many" people who claimed Robertson never said "assassinante"? I notice you didn’t mention any of them.

Pat Robertson is a fraud and a liar, and his politics are a combination of imbecilic conspiracy theories and carefully concealed advancement of his economic and political interests. He does not speak for Jesus any more than Jim Bakker did. All conservatives should be saddled with Robertson only if all liberals must answer for the ravings of "their" men of the cloth - I am confident we could trade stupid things Al Sharpton has said for stupid things Pat Robertson has said for the better part of an afternoon. How little any of it would have to do with the Gospel!

The most thoughtful Christian reaction to events of this kind cannot be presented by any "activist" group; such groups are by definition tempted to compress all of human experience into their particular issue. The best written response to nature’s wrath I have read can be found here:

The best Christian response for those of us who cannot drop everything, drive to the afflicted area and, nudus nudum sequi Christum, supply aid, requires paypal or a major credit card, and a visit to this site:

OV - Yeah your right I couldn’t find many; lets see; Limbaugh August 26 - on his radio show, Hannity August 24 - on Hannity and Colmes,
Rev. Jerry Sutton - August 26 Hardball,
Steve Centanni - August 30 Fox News,
the Christian Broadcasting Network - to the BBC August 23. I’ll post the links if need be, but do I really need to? Google yourself it took all of .012 seconds.

wm - While I cringe in anticipation everytime Sharpton opens his mouth I have not yet heard him advocating; assassination, AID’s as God’s answer to homosexuality, calling Islam a terrorist org., 9/11 the result of America’s evil ways, ad nauseum. I may not agree with Sharpton on a lot of things but it is far to low a shot to compare him to Robertson.

Robertson is certainly indicatave, when he becomes politically acceptable, of a larger and growing problem. This then turns into lunatics such as the Columbia Christians, Repent America and the Rev. Fred Phelps. You know Rev. Phelps he’s that compassionate conservative christian who feels that the best way he can serve God, and the conservative agenda, is by picketing dead soldiers returning from Iraq as supporters of homosexualitiy. It’s an insane world and as long as we allow these people to go unchecked things will only get worse.

Yea, and I once heard a public speaker say that all white men are evil. Believe me, there’s plenty of hate on both sides of the political spectrum. In terms of being "unchecked," how do you propose we get these people to shut up...something short of Stalinesque "reform," I assume? Shaming them sure doesn’t work.

My advice to you...get used to it. We live in a society that protects political and civil rights, even if people abuse both. I don’t think there are any acceptable solutions to the problem.

umm, rudgirl, there was the pogrom Sharpton started against Jews at Freddy’s fashion mart. And unlike Pat Robertson’s new favorite target Hugo Chavez, some people actually died when Sharpton incited a riot. So, still comparable I’d say. ...and unless you want to call Osama bin Laden a spokesman for all Islam, I’d avoid making any dramatic claims for the importance of Fred Phelps - that guy has far fewer followers than Bin Laden, or Sharpton, or hell, Charles Manson for that matter. Phelps has condemned no small number of conservative Christian ministers for not being as far out on the lunatic fringe as he is. In your desire to score rhetorical points against conservative Christians, you are paying far more attention to Phelps than any real Conservative Christian I have ever met. This is a sort of through the looking glass tactic if you are really upset about the pulic pronouncements of bigots...

many on the right claimed he never said "assassinate"

This might sound like hair-splitting, but did he actually use the word "assassinate"? Please correct me if I’m wrong here, but my recollection is that he said "take out."

Now, before I get jumped on here, I’m not trying to defend Robertson. No matter what word he used, his meaning was pretty clear. But if for no other reason than precision of language we shouldn’t be putting quotes around "assassinate" (or "assassinante," for that matter) if he didn’t actually use the word.

John, quacks like a duck...- "I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it." Thats from Pats own web page from his "apology".

WM you’re quite right, in your dismantling of my thread. The point I was so poorly trying to make is the influence of fundamentalist religion, particularly when you mix religion and politics, that I find to be one of the major problems in the world. Can anybody explain the difference between an Islamic fundementalist that plants a bomb to kill people and a Christian Fundamentalist that does the same?

Didn’t Bush call the invasion of Afghanistan a "crusade"? Until his handlers got on it anyway.
Thats not to say I was against going after Al-Qaeda. I was in NYC on 9/11.

And no Dain I won’t role over and get used to it.

And now for something entirely different:

After some time and distance from the tragedy still unfolding in New Orleans, and growing weary of the same old rants, from the same old Democrats, I find myself dispassionately deconstructing exactly what happened in New Orleans.

The American people must understand that we are living in the United States of America, INCORPORATED. Bush and his Board (henceforth referred to as Bush Co.) was not MIA they were extremely busy conducting a stop-loss cost analysis study. Based on this study, which was worked up in record time I might add, Bush Co. made the only sound corporate decision available. In the tradition of true corporate philosophy Bush Co. simply refused to issue a recall on what they knew to be a defective product. So go ahead, be an ambulance chaser, sue us!

After all who died in the aftermath of Katrina? We’re just beginning to get the death tolls out of St. Gabriel Parish, Louis Armstrong Airport, and other temporary morgues, and just as Bush Co. predicted, it was; the elderly, the infirmed, the very young, the poor. Any of these focus groups would have been a tremendous drain on our Federal resources. Bush Co., in true corporate philosophy, saw its opportunity and by delaying support, and resources, for just long enough, Bush Co. was able to sufficiently “thin the herd”.

As equally important, in Bush Co.’s decision making process, is the undisputed fact that there would have been little chance of seeing an immediate, perhaps any, return on the United States of America, INC. investment to; rescue, feed, treat, house, and educate, these non-productive cogs, oops, I mean people. To all the race baiters - race had nothing to do with Bush Co.’s decision! It was a productivity thing.

As a major investor in the United States of America, INC., I applaud Bush Co. for their sound fiscal policies, and swift implementation of said policies.

My fellow Americans, there is a lot of work ahead of us in our efforts to rebuild the Gulf States and in particular New Orleans and at the same time maintain the greatest nation on the planet. The United States of America, INC. has no time for lollygaggers or whiners. So make sure that you, and your community, are pulling your weight, or you may become a statistic as well.

In recognition of his selfless efforts, and his tireless leadership, and in the face of untold criticism, I suggest that we all pitch in to congratulate our Commander in Chief. Hip hip, hoorah. Come on everybody!!!! Hip hip, hoorah, isn’t anybody listening? Hip hip, hoorah? O.K. you’re all on my list, get back to work, what are you doing on the Godless internet anyway? We’re watching you.

Oh, and don’t bother trying to come up with some “Blue Ribbon” panel to investigate exactly what happened. Complete waste of time and money! Bush Co. will just redact any criticism or accountability, national interests of course. Whew, I need a vacation!

Have at me guys:-) Oh and thanx to No Left Turns its gotta be the last conservative weblog that actually allows a progressive to thread.

That last post was the Epitome of uneducated liberal ranting. The anger is clouding your brain.

John, quacks like a duck...- "I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it." Thats from Pats own web page from his "apology".

Thanks, I stand corrected. I knew Robertson was a fool; I just hadn’t realized the depths of his foolishness, I guess.

I am uncertain as to why anyone cares what Robertson said? Can someone explain this to me. I have found it puzzling that people on the right are distancing themselves from Robertson as quickly as possible. Are they opposed to assassination in the absolute, or are they opposed to it because it is illegal under US law, or are they opposed to it because it would not be prudent to assassinate him right now?

Not to start too many fights, but I am fairly certain that it would have been morally better (less innocents killed) to have assassinated Sadaam than to start a war. Seems that assassination is using the least amount of force necessary to accomplish an end, which I think somehow is endorsed by the Christian just war theory (but I may be wrong on that, maybe just war requires proper notice which would rule out assassinations)

I must admit, I would rather believe that there is a God, and He is in control. Of course, when humans try to understand God, that is another problem entirely.

I would rather believe in a God than some freak, cosmic accident that just happened.

Pat Robertson, well, I really don’t want to go there. The man has some problems.

Actually, we did try to assassinate Saddam. We just called it "decapitation".

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