Which Convention is to blame?

Because of all that's going on, something doesn't seem right about writing satire today. But something never feels right about satire, and I think this issue is important enough that perhaps an overabundance of satirical logic is the best way to tackle the problem. If this offends anyone, please remember that it isn't my intent to be offensive or to ridicule religion. My religious views are extremely unconventional, but part of my misfortune is that I'm not an atheist. (My life would be much easier if I were, because if you're not an atheist and admit it, atheists will ridicule your views, while the dogmatically religious people will consider you a "partial victory for God" - and thus fair game.)

Anyway, while researching the last post, I stumbled onto WorldNetDaily's story about the latest Michael Marcavage outburst, which zeroed in on the details of the city's annual "Southern Decadence" festival (which would have run from August 31- September 5).

The fact that people would want to make such a connection struck me as not only profoundly illogical, but downright cruel to the people who are suffering with the effects of this disaster. So I thought I should apply a simple logical analysis, by way of testing the theory that God would destroy a city in order to, yes, stop a convention.

Did God intend to stop that convention?

It occurred to me that we might as well weigh all the possibilities, leaving no stone unturned in our search for the truth. Accordingly, I conducted a little more research, and the results are quite puzzling.

Because, sure enough, I found that by applying the same logic I was able to determine that there were a number of other conventions which God -- acting through Hurricane Katrina -- prevented from happening.

Stopped 'em dead in their tracks.

For example, before we rush to blame the "Southern Decadence" convention, shouldn't we at least ask whether God might have intended to stop the National Business Aviation Association convention, which was also canceled? Surely it doesn't take much imagination to understand that if God intended man to fly, God would have given him wings. Isn't the NBAA guilty of contributing to major, repeated violations of the law of gravity? I think it's beyond debate that gravity is one of the laws of nature and of nature's God, and that these people have violated it shamelessly, and gotten away with it for far too long.

Lest you think the aviators and the homos are the only people whose conventions God might have wanted to stop, read on. Because there are plenty more reports of conventions blocked by God, and I'm sure I haven't found reports about them all.

While it may not be easy for us to understand each and every "why," isn't it also possible that God might have sent the hurricane to stop the North American Building Materials Distribution Association from holding their convention? If you think about it, buildings have a long history of being used for sinful and wicked activities, and I'm not just talking about the defiant Tower of Babel. Some of the most heinous crimes ever perpetrated have taken place entirely indoors, and were it not for the building materials used in constructing the places, the wicked acts might never have taken place. Furthermore, many wicked men have lived in buildings which were constructed entirely from -- guess what? building materials! Aren't those who distribute the tools used to facilitate sin at least as guilty as the sinners themselves?

I also see that The American Society of Anesthesiologists was also forced to cancel their convention. While there's no word at their web site about why God would want to stop this convention, it is well known that anesthesia thwarts the natural pain which God intended the body to have -- pain which 19th Century surgeons feared would harm their patients' character. Perhaps God meant to deliver a stern warning along the lines of, "Enough with this human interference with my pain, already!"

Then there's the wicked Specialty Graphic Imaging Association The fact that God hates images is too well known to require extended discussion. Image makers beware!

How about the canceled American Society for Microbiology convention? What sort of evil doings did these perverters of nature have in mind? Is not microbiology at the heart of innumerable untold evils, from plant reengineering to cloning? Well, why wouldn't God want to stop that?

These ridiculous speculations assume, of course, that God would punish the many for the conduct of the few, and would compound this fiendishness by never making it clear which group was the real target. Farrakhan and others are blaming Katrina on America because of the War in Iraq -- and while that is just as silly as blaming the conventions which were scheduled to be in town, it will play out all over the world.

More inane (but more insidious) is the idea that the hurricane was caused not by God, but by human beings themselves -- through not-yet-fully-explained actions such as "Global Warming." Or that the people who lived there "brought it on themselves" by living there. This substitutes "nature" for God, but is equally cruel because it holds people responsible for things they did not do without any causal connection other than "because they were there."

I hate seeing such massive failures of logic (with more certain to come), because it reminds me of a stubborn pattern people have of plugging in their favorite enemies, and blaming them for whatever crisis might come along. Never mind who might have done it, just say that your most hated target was responsible for 9/11. Ditto for Columbine. Even abu Ghraib. Blogs were responsible for violence at athletic events.

In the case of a horrendous natural disaster like this, the blame-your-enemy approach is so heinously irrational that I'd like to think it wouldn't happen at all. But it is, and I fear it will get worse. I don't mean to minimize the suffering of anyone by saying this, but Americans are all victims right now. To blame Americans as a group (or groups of Americans) for this awful tragedy is a form of blaming the victim. It's as inexcusable as it is conventional.

UPDATE: CNN's Wolf Blitzer just read an email from a listener reading "I am ashamed and disgusted to be an American right now" and who blames Bush. Appalling.

MORE (4:14 p.m.): Former President George H.W. Bush just said it's natural for people to seek to blame someone when disaster strikes. I remember this happening during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, when some of my close friends -- not including me -- were convinced the federal government deliberately infected gay men with a virus created in military laboratories.

I guess I'll just have to sit through the cycles of blame for a while.

AND MORE: Numerous reports indicate that the situation is getting very ugly, with snipers shooting rescue workers.

Example:

An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered with a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair. "I buried my dog." He added: "You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here."

The street outside the center, above the floodwaters, smelled of urine and feces, and was choked with dirty diapers, old bottles and garbage.

"They've been teasing us with buses for four days," Edwards said.

People chanted, "Help, help!" as reporters and photographers walked through. The crowd got angry when journalists tried to photograph one of the bodies, and covered it over with a blanket. A woman, screaming, went on the front steps of the convention center and led the crowd in reciting the 23rd Psalm.

John Murray, 52, said: "It's like they're punishing us."

The Superdome, where some 25,000 people were being evacuated by bus to the Houston Astrodome, descended into chaos as well.

Huge crowds, hoping to finally escape the stifling confines of the stadium, jammed the main concourse outside the dome, spilling out over the ramp to the Hyatt hotel next door _ a seething sea of tense, unhappy, people packed shoulder-to-shoulder up to the barricades where heavily armed National Guardsmen stood.

Fights broke out. A fire erupted in a trash chute inside the dome, but a National Guard commander said it did not affect the evacuation. After a traffic jam kept buses from arriving at the Superdome for nearly four hours, a near-riot broke out in the scramble to get on the buses that finally did show up.

The first of hundreds of busloads of people evacuated from the Superdome arrived early Thursday at their new temporary home _ another sports arena, the Houston Astrodome, 350 miles away.

But the ambulance service in charge of taking the sick and injured from the Superdome suspended flights after a shot was reported fired at a military helicopter. Richard Zuschlag, chief of Acadian Ambulance, said it was too dangerous for his pilots.


It's like they're punishing us.

Situations like this are going to generate a lot of blame. I like Donald Sensing's idea (via InstaPundit) of dropping leaflets, because people have a need for basic information. Any information. I get angry just from an airport or traffic delay. But the most irritating thing is not knowing.

This was just confirmed by a reporter at Fox News, who said, "what they want to know more than anything else is how much more they have to endure."

MORE: Here's Stephen Green:

Imagine trying to resolve the 9-11 mess if NYC was under six feet of water, all comms were out, the interstates were flooded and the majority of the infrastructure more or less completely out of commission.
Or Philadelphia.

MORE: Here's Aaron at FreeWillBlog:

Today while watching CNN, I saw a guy who was sitting on the lawn in front of his house in New Orleans, complaining that his two neighbors' corpses were in the apartment next to him, nobody had come to get the bodies, and FEMA hadn't brought him any food yet. Equally astonishing, I've seen a number of complaints from liberals looking for an opportunity to condemn Bush along the same lines: "Why aren't they sending the military in, all of it? Why aren't we airdropping food and water into the city? Why isn't the city filled with small boats trying to rescue trapped people? Why not send dozens of helicopters to try to plug the levee? Why aren't we doing more to save New Orleans? Don't we have a giant watervac to clean it up in one big slurp? Didn't they plan for this?" It goes on and on, and often there are bizarre conspiracy theories to explain it, so let me put it bluntly:

Years ago, when I was in school, I was invited to participate in a think-tank type of workshop at SIU on a similar scenario for Southern Illinois if the New Madrid were to blow and turn this joint into a sandbox. You know what we found? That we were screwed. There was no way to plan ourselves out of the worst-case-scenario. That, as it turned out, was the point of the exercise: To impress upon us that there was no Batman, there was no Superman, and that if the earthquake hit, with hundreds of thousands of people spread out across dozens of devastated towns, it would take days, at a bare minimum, before anyone could reach us, and that we had to take this threat seriously and convey to others the importance of preparing for the disaster, having a bugout kit, being at least moderately prepared for a survival situation. (Instapundit defines "moderately prepared" well: "If you've got a week's supplies, and a gun, you'll usually do okay after a disaster. If you don't, you're in much bigger trouble...") Same rule applies here.

...Nature is history's greatest monster, and when it decides to go on a killing spree, even the most powerful superpower in human history is simply incapable of fighting back. Nothing within the scope of our imagination can make New Orleans a habitable place right now.

(Via Glenn.) The post is a must-read, directly applicable to this debate.

(I suggest reading it before blaming.)

I know it's hard, but I wish people would remember the main difference between this and 9/11:

We have no enemy to blame!

UPDATE: We don't? According to James Wolcott, "New Orleans Died for Bush's Sins."

I blame Gaia. (Heaven knows where Uranus is at.)

MORE: Does God have a two-fer?

Stephen OLeary, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and an expert on the media and apocalypticism, says, Gods got a two-fer here. Both sides are eager to see America punished for her sins; on one side its sexual immorality and porn and Hollywood, and on the other side its conspicuous consumption and Hummers.
Such zeal for punishing the innocent strikes me as more human than divine.

MORE: Similar nonsense from a Google News Site:

New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas after witnessing the horrors first hand and hearing talk of Sodom and Gomorrah commented, "Maybe God's going to cleanse us."

The theme of cleansing or purification has become a frequently discussed topic as the tragedy in the affected states unfolds. European papers have suggested that Katrina was the punishment the US received for failing to sign onto the Kyoto accord, Islamic militants have rejoiced that "private" Katrina has joined in the holy war against the U.S. for - among other things - the Iraq war. Some have even suggested that the hurricane was God's punishment on the U.S. for cooperating in the removal of Jews from the Gaza strip.

However, beyond these speculations is a more general acknowledgement that New Orleans, the epicentre of the disaster, was a "sin city" which harboured few rivals. The New Orleans "southern decadence" festival which was to take place Labour Day weekend, is described by a French Quarter tourism site as "sort of like a gayer version of Mardi Gras" which is "most famous (or infamous) for the displays of naked flesh which characterize the event," with "public displays of sexuality . . . pretty much everywhere you look."

The city is also renowned for occult practices, particularly voodoo.

Michael Brown, creator of the immensely popular SpiritDaily.com website - popularly known as the Catholic DrudgeReport, has said that Katrina was "definitely" a purification for New Orleans. Brown points out that the name Katrina itself means "pure". And that, Brown told LifeSiteNews.com, is not a coincidence. "I don't believe in coincidences," said Brown, adding that God has everything in His control and "I think that everything is interwoven."

LifeSiteNews.com contacted Brown due to his startlingly accurate prediction of the events in New Orleans in 2001, when he issued what is now being seen as a warning to New Orleans. In 2001 Brown wrote a piece about what he felt was upcoming disaster for New Orleans.

Brown began, "There are few cities with so many good as New Orleans and also few cities where there is such a stark coexistence with the bad. It is this city, the Big Easy, that is home to kind and generous and Christian people . . . and yet also this city that has allowed evil to flourish in a way that has become truly dangerous." Noting the occult practices and the sexual immorality, Brown warned, "When you invoke dark spirits, you get a storm. The very word hurricane comes from the Indian hurukan for evil spirit."

More here. I think I hear "The Twilight Zone" theme playing right now, and I don't know who to blame.

UPDATE: More here about "End Times":

A national talk-radio host believes the severity of Hurricane Katrina is clear evidence that civilization is now in the "End Times" described in the Bible.

"I don't think there's any doubt," George Noory said this morning on his "Coast to Coast AM" program. "I think we're in it. I really do."

People obviously have a need for this sort of thing or there wouldn't be so much of it.

AND MORE: Nice collection of memorable idiotarian quotes (mostly blaming Bush/ Iraq/"GlobalWarming"). (Via Glenn Reynolds.)Here's one:

"The Terrorist Katrina is One of the Soldiers of Allah, But Not an Adherent of Al-Qaeda"

MORE: According to every report I've seen, the French Quarter has come through in good shape, and is the least affected area of New Orleans.

(A hell of a way for God to punish "sodomites," if you ask me....)

posted by Eric on 09.01.05 at 01:25 PM







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Comments

When terrorists first nuke an American city, how will we respond? How will order be maintained? How will relief supplies enter the city?

These are no longer just hypothetical questions. We have a unique opportunity in New Orleans to prepare for the inevitable.

John   ·  September 1, 2005 6:06 PM

Yeah, you're right. It's not a question of "if" but when.

Eric Scheie   ·  September 1, 2005 6:13 PM

Our old friend Michael Marcavage -- quite a character. Just give him a sugar cube with LSD in it and he'll be Rev. Fred Phelps.

So that's what happened! Steven, I should have suspected that you were a Merry Prankster.

Eric Scheie   ·  September 1, 2005 6:25 PM

Eric-
Just wanted to say that the disaster response orgs are looking for volunteers outside their normal pool because the scope of this one is so huge. If anyone has time to do it, the Salvation Army just posted an open form, and I'm pretty sure the Red Cross needs people in the region, too. They're forgoing their usual 3 weeks of classes and asking for 1 week commitments apparently.

urthshu   ·  September 1, 2005 7:34 PM

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