Thursday, September 08, 2005


Blame. Why does it always have to be blame?

In today's SoJo Mail, Wes Granberg-Michaelson blames the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on our misuse of the environment and the gap between rich and poor.

In the statement, Granberg-Michaelson says, "When I see the devastating effects of Katrina, I don't simply regard these as an inexplicable 'act of God.' I also focus on the sins of humanity. We've disobeyed God's clear biblical instructions to preserve the integrity of God's good creation, and to overcome the scourge of poverty. In the aftermath of Katrina, we desperately need not only compassion, but also repentance."

Is this really any better than "Repent America" blaming the disaster on the wickedness of New Orleans? Yes, the poor and the sick were ignored by upper and middle classes that hopped in their nice new cars and said, "you should all leave too" as they drove away. But is this really the best response right now? One of the chief complaints I hear about Sojourners is that they make everything an excuse to harp about social justice. I feel that here. If your only tool is a hammer....

Earlier in the week, I received an e-mail "from Howard Dean" which said, in part, "The federal response over these crucial first days has been totally unacceptable. There will be a time for a full accounting of the preventable part of this disaster, and those responsible will be held accountable. It will be soon." This e-mail at least claimed to be primarily about passing on information about what I could do (primarily sign up at to host hurricane survivors), but being an e-mail from, it just couldn't pass on making a jab at the Republicans.

This kind of reaction make me sad. It hurts. It's not just that they are the manifestation of the darker side of humanity. It's that it's a manifestation of this darker side being so deeply ingrained in us that we think we should take it out and show it to people -- as if it will help.

I remember the morning of the 9-11 attacks, one of the broadcasters, I think it was Peter Jennings, talking in strong terms about how the responsible parties would receive swift justice. And I was thinking, "For God's sake man, can't we mourn a while before we start taking revenge?" And then over the next days and weeks and months it just got worse until it seemed like our whole country had become one gigantic angry mob.

Nine-11 was an easy case. We had a nice, well-defined enemy to hate. Not so with Katrina, but that doesn't stop us from looking.

Has anyone seen a "theologian of the cross" type response to this?

1 comment:

LutheranChik said...

This is completely tangential, as well as irreverent considering the gravity of the situation, but once upon a time there used to be a song, "Why Forgive and Forget When You Can Remember and Blame?"