Earthquake comments weren’t exactly uplifting
There’s an inner idiot in us just waiting to climb out and romp about in unabashed stupidity, but most people retain just enough wit to keep the idiot bottled up.
Not so in the case of Pat Robertson, as was demonstrated recently in the wake of the extraordinarily destructive earthquake in Haiti.
President Barack, for his part, displayed a disturbing need for a refresher course in basic science in the wake of the tragedy in Haiti.
Haiti, you might recall, has a bad habit of popping up on the radar screen every few years because of its intractable poverty, stubborn refusal to govern itself and insistence on being the yin to the yang of its more stable and prosperous twin, the Dominican Republic, with which Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola.
Hispaniola, for most of us, is all about history. It’s where Columbus set foot in the New World, and set off a chain of events that led to your presence here.
Some in the so-called “reality-based community” have suggested that Columbus is to blame. Yet had Columbus not landed on Hispaniola, the earthquake still would have happened. It’s the force of civilization that was loosed then that will rescue Haiti now, if it’s allowed to.
Which brings us to the preacher and the prez.
Start with Robertson, whose uncanny ability to blurt out something silly at precisely the wrong moment has made him a laughingstock on both ends of the political spectrum.
This is a guy who said aloud in 2005 that Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez ought to be assassinated.
However much deserving of that accolade Chavez might have been, Robertson never could grasp the elementary fact that assassination plots are most effective when they come as a surprise.
Now Robertson is blaming the earthquake on a supposed pact with the devil signed on to by the ancestors of those who are suffering today.
Robertson didn’t cite his source and seems even less capable of understanding, much less dealing with, the reality of the Earth’s primordial forces than the guy in the Oval Office.
Not to be outdone, actor Danny Glover, an environmental activist and pal of Hugo Chavez, showed off his credentials by opining that the earthquake was the Earth’s response to the failed summit at Copenhagen. Why Gaia would take out her wrath on the people with the most minuscule of carbon footprints wasn’t something Glover explained.
The president, apparently unwilling to settle for one gaffe when two were available, went for what is known as the “Full Biden,” declaring that the temblor was “cruel and incomprehensible.”
Given his tendency to ascribe all things bad to anthropogenic causes, it’s unsurprising that Obama would use a word we associate with humans to describe the reality of an earthquake.
Earthquakes, however, are not cruel. They are neither good nor evil. They happen as a result of shifting of the Earth’s crust.
Which brings us to the “incomprehensible” part.
The earthquake is not merely comprehensible, it was expected, at least as much as an earthquake can be expected.
Measurements of Hispaniola conducted in the early 1990s revealed significant fault activity, which prompted geologists to warn the powers-that-were in Haiti that something bad was coming. We now know it was to no avail.
“Cruel and incomprehensible?” Sorry, Mr. President, but we demand more from a guy who spent part of his life in volcanic Hawaii.
Fortunately, the United States isn’t defined by such comments.
After learning of the tragedy, Americans promptly lined up to give money and blood, supply food and clothing, pay for medicine and offer whatever emotional support they could.
So many offered so much help that aviation officials prohibited aircraft from landing in Haiti Thursday, citing their inability to land because there were too many craft on the ground there.
Obviously, it’s a big job and it will only grow more difficult in the foreseeable future. With luck, the comments of three prominent Americans won’t get in the way of the rescue work.
Haven’t Haitians suffered enough?