Michael Totten

Hurricane Idiotarianism

I was going to write a post bemoaning people who view the worst natural disaster in American history through a narrow partisan lens. But what’s the point, really? Boys will be boys — or hacks will be hacks as the case may be. And besides, this wouldn’t be America if we didn’t grouse about our least favorite politicians on a regular basis. So…whatever. Most of us aren’t going to “go there,” so to speak, but if it makes ya happy then carry on.
I have infinitely more patience for partisan hacks than for the idiotarians. You remember the idiotarians, right? The ones who said we deserved the September 11th attacks for their own pet reasons?
Well, they’re back. I knew it would happen, too, almost immediately after I heard the storm was headed straight for New Orleans. It was as predictable as sunshine in the morning.
Jeff Jarvis quotes Franklin Graham on Fox News.

This happens when we take God out of our schools and God out of our society.

Actually, this happens when storms form over large bodies of warm water in summer and then smash into populated areas near that warm water. Hurricanes are older than Christianity. They are older than human beings.
Franklin Graham, I think it’s safe to say, is pro-God. He’s not, you know, anti-God. You could say, I suppose, that he’s an apologist for God if you felt like looking at it that way. I wouldn’t normally use that kind of language to describe a person of faith, but today I think it’s appropriate – at least in this one individual case. Graham’s God just murdered thousands of people and destroyed one of our finest cities, not to mention several smaller cities nearby. Unless Graham is going to tell God to get stuffed — an unlikely occurrence, I think — then apologist is in order.
If I were inclined to look at natural cataclysms through a theological lens, I would say the devil is in New Orleans today. At the very least the street predators rampaging in the city don’t resemble tools of the Lord as I remember them from Sunday School. But that’s just me. No one pays me to opine on the supernatural, and I spend precious little time dwelling on these sorts of questions. I prefer to think about these events from a scientific perspective and dismiss Franklin Graham as a religious version of Noam Chomsky.
I would like to know, though, why someone who blames the victims of horrific destruction is considered a respectable member of our society.
UPDATE: Paul Brinkley in the comments notes that someone in Jeff Jarvis’ comments said Graham’s quote was taken out of context, that he was referring to the thugs in the city and not the hurricane. I don’t know about that. I can’t find a transcript anywhere and I do trust Jeff to quote things properly. He’s a pro. And he’s a Christian. He has no anti-God or anti-Christian axe to grind.
In any case, I’m not religious and I would not become a predator if my city were hit by a disaster. If Christians want to be respected by non-religious people, they may want to stop talking about us as though we’re monsters or that it’s our fault other people become monsters. Graham is in my “jerk” column no matter what the context of his remarks.
SECOND UPDATE: The jury is out on whether or not Franklin Graham is an idiotarian. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now and say that he is not. But we all know the religious idiotarian school of thought is out there. It’s the whole “Sodom and Gomorrah” view of the world.
SoCalJustice points out Rev. Bill Shanks in the comments.

Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also sees God’s mercy in the aftermath of Katrina — but in a different way. Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.
The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as “Southern Decadence” — an annual six-day “gay pride” event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week — God’s judgment would be felt.
“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion — it’s free of all of those things now,” Shanks says. “God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there — and now we’re going to start over again.”

Someone please tell the reverend that Meteorology 101 courses are widely available at community colleges everywhere.