Messing with Mother Nature

Like all Americans I have been horrified watching the destruction wrought on New Orleans by this natural disaster. And I suppose like others who share the name Katrina, it has been eerie hearing and reading my name all over the news. But when Fox News started calling the hurricane, Killer Katrina, I started praying some rightwing idiot wouldn't stoop so low as to personalize or politicize all of this human suffering.

But wouldn't you know, the biggest dittohead on the block, Rush Limbaugh, is calling the storm Hurricane Katrina vanden Heuvel and warning that the left is going to use this tragedy against the right. Jonah Goldberg, who has never seen a bad joke bandwagon he could resist jumping on with both feet, blogged, and I quote, "It would be pretty cool if Fox played to caricature and repeatedly referred to the hurricane as Katrina vanden Heuvel." Not satisfied, he went on to imagine the headlines, "The destruction from Katrina vanden Heuvel is expected to be massive..The poor and disabled are particularly likely to suffer from the effects of Katrina vanden Heuvel."

What can one say to such heartlessness? Americans are dying, and this is their idea of how to show respect for the dead. At least Limbaugh has the excuse that drug abuse tends to stunt emotional development. What Jonah's problem is nobody has yet discovered.

Natural disasters should be above politics. (President Bush's decision to send his father and President Clinton to organize aide for the Tsunami was one of his very few international P.R. successes since 9/11.)

It's so very easy and childish to personalize tragedy. (Did you hear the one about OxyContin's new tagline: 'What a Rush!'?) It is so cheap to politicize a natural disaster. (Did you see the headline about Louisiana's National Guard watching the destruction of their homeland from Iraq?) But let's try to empathize with those who are suffering through no fault of their own and think about how we can help them.

Cross posted at www.thenation.com.