I’m a expat from the US, and the midwest to be more specific. I woke in London to word that a massive series of tornadoes (or one super tornado) hit Oklahoma, killing 90+ and counting. The images are terrible, there is no doubt about it. 20 of those 90 dead are children, even worse. Whole neighbourhoods are wiped out, and recovery will be in months, not weeks.
So why can’t I feel anything for them?
I think it might be a defence mechanism. I know what’s about to happen in the US – the religious hucksters, tinfoil brigade, and one-uppers are about to descend.
Religious hucksters (not all religious people, mind) like Westboro Baptist will blame the gays for God’s wrath, while Pat Robertson and the 700 Club will…well, they usually blame the gays. I don’t know how they are going to explain God’s wrath considering Oklahoma banned gay marriage (it’s worth pointing out morons actually blamed Hurricane Sandy on the New York/New Jersey areas on gay marriage being allowed. No, really.) Maybe God changed his mind on two dudes getting hitched?
Tinfoil Brigade: From Alex Jones, who I’m sure will somehow blame NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to Glenn Beck, who will somehow blame Obama (maybe we should have built a fence to protect us from immigrant funnels of wind?), within days you’ll hear the phrases ‘FEMA deathcamps’, ‘New World Order’, and the like. (Side note, if you are from outside the US and don’t know what these phrases mean, be glad. The stupidity is so thick with the tinfoil brigade you could cut it with a knife).
The political one-uppers: I have a confession, I am one of these people. See, when the tri-state area was underwater for a few months with Hurricane Sandy, a whole lot of Republicans voted against any sort of aid for them. And since then, there have been two major natural disasters since then – one in Texas, and one last night in Oklahoma. Who wants to guess that the representatives who voted against aid for fellow Americans in the liberal north will now be asking for it in the ‘pull yourselves up by your bootstraps’ neck of their woods? Now, I know talking about politics post tragedy usually brings in cries of ‘Too soon!’ and ‘Don’t you care about suffering?’
And yes, I do. Which is why I am bringing it up.
I cared about the folks drowning after Sandy, and was enraged when 67 Republicans (and no Democrats it should be noted) voted to let them rot versus look like they were attempting to help President Obama. I was apoplectic when they branded Chris Christie, Republican and New Jersey governor, a ‘traitor’ as he worked with democrat Obama to get his state sorted as quickly as possible. And I care about the poor peoples’ lives currently affected, I do. Just because Oklahoma voted in a few morons doesn’t mean everyone in Oklahoma is a moron. Far from it. But it’s specifically after disasters such as this that we do need to discuss the polarization of politics, and how if the various Oklahoma Republicans had had one shred of decency when considering other Americans’ plight, people wouldn’t be pointing out their specific hypocrisy now. Because post-disaster, it’s politicians who vote on relief. It’s politics who designate a number to suffering. And it’s fool politicians like Rand Paul and other ‘bootstrappers’ who will use their political platform to pile on to their suffering to win votes in their home states. It’s all politics.
For what it’s worth, I hope Oklahoma gets the full weight of the federal government’s benefit, and quickly. They shouldn’t be forced to suffer for months like the tri state area did. If you want to donate to the Red Cross, they are also on the ground setting up triage units. A direct donation link is here. But I can’t let myself become invested in the disaster, as it makes it even more difficult not to become enraged when the tinfoil brigade, hucksters, and political gamesmenship starts.