In time of disaster, Americans have historically come together as
one, reaching out to those in need.
Throw a hurricane, a fire, an earthquake, an oil spill, a terrorist
attack at us and we embrace the “united” in United States.
No one asks what political party you belong to, what nationality you
are or which God you worship when people’s lives are on the line.
It’s time to tackle the task at hand.
All of which underscores one of the absolutes that makes this country
great: our ability to be a caring and benevolent people.
At least most of us.
Disasters can bring out the worst in us as well, witness the looter,
the con artist, the coward. We can now add to that list the
conspiracy theorists and/or rumor mongers who use social networking
to spread their distorted world view.
As an example, no sooner had Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Eastern
Seaboard this past week, then an electronic subculture emerged like
bats out of hell.
Consider these entries taken from various Internet sites:
William Koenig, billed as a “journalist and White House
correspondent,” claims that when we “put pressure on Israel to divide
their land, we have enormous, record-setting events, often within 24
hours.” Because both American political parties have endorsed a
two-state solution with regard to Israel, he says, an angry God
produced Hurricane Sandy.”
Kurt Nimmo of the InfoWars website suggested that President Obama
would benefit by looking like a strong leader in the face of a major
storm — so he ordered one up.
He cites another website’s claim that there have been “unprecedented
levels” of ionospheric phenomena in the upper atmosphere, supposedly
created by the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program
(HAARP), managed by the U.S. Navy and Air Force to monitor the upper
atmosphere to aid communications and navigation systems. But
conspiracy theorists claim that the government uses HAARP to
manipulate weather (and exert mind control) using electromagnetic
Preacher John McTernan warned his online following that God was
“systematically destroying America” for failing to heed His wishes on
issues such as gay marriage, and that the hurricane was part of His
punishment for the two “pro-homosexual” candidates from America’s two
main political parties. The Almighty, McTernan said, smote the
country with a “huge bucket of vomit.”
An anonymous poster writes: “I smell the Big O using this to suspend
the election by executive orders as so many people are in a state of
emergency. He’ll do anything to get re-elected.”
Yet another: “The liberal smug bastion of New York City will again be
receiving a warning from God.”
From this assortment of paranoia we can draw the following
conclusions: The Hurricane was the doing of a Barack Obama who is as
cunningly powerful and evil as Darth Vader. Or it was the design of
an angry God whose vengeance has rained down upon us because we have
committed the sin of believing in equality for all His children.
Of course, these folks have the absolute right to express their
deeply held feelings. I have the absolute right to dismiss them as
deeply misguided souls.
Fortunately, there are some positives to take away from all this,
such as the mutual admiration and respect that was demonstrated
between President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whose
state was nearly eradicated by the storm.
It’s been a good long while since we’ve seen bipartisan cooperation
and good will. Even in the face of disaster, it felt good.
“The federal government’s response has been great. I was on the phone
at midnight again last night with the President, personally, and he
has expedited the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster
“The President has been all over this and he deserves great credit, “
Christie continued. “He told me to call him if I needed anything and
he absolutely means it, and it’s been very good working with the
President and his administration.”
This from a man who once criticized the President as “a bystander in
the Oval Office...what the hell are we paying you for?”
Not everyone basked in the warm glow of bipartisanship, however. GOP
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for example, called on the
governors of those states damaged by the hurricane --- but only those
governors who were Republicans.
For the most part, however, for one fleeting moment, we put our
political differences aside for the good of the country, a simple act
that we have yearned for, that we have demanded, that would solve
many if not most of our country’s problems.
It is an absolute travesty that it took a major catastrophe to make