I have been hesitant to write this week about the tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti, only because I am so frustrated with the responses of certain individuals with over-sized personal pulpits that reach coast to coast who seem to not really care, and was afraid that the point of the matter would be lost in my venting. But I’ve calmed down to the point that I think I can articulate it without, you know, freaking out.
I can’t believe that in the wake of such a tragedy, GleN Beck would air an hour-long interview with Sarah Palin rather than scrap that show for a day or two and talk about the rescue efforts. Honestly GleN, 37 seconds? That’s how much time he devoted on his show to the crisis in Haiti before getting on with the interview, which I assume was pre-recorded. I mean, Sarah Palin WORKS for Fox now. They couldn’t wait a day or so for that one?
Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity were about the same, carrying on their shows as usual while other networks devoted most of the same news hours usually reserved for commentary to live reports and updates from Haiti.
Pat Robertson. I mean honestly. What the hell? The worst part about his statement about how Haiti pretty much asked for it because of their “pact to the devil” is that he was historically inaccurate. The Haitians who revolted against the French to pull themselves out of slavery didn’t make a pact to the devil. They made an animal sacrifice as part of a Vodou (voodoo) ritual. And despite what Hollywood and even the fabulous city of New Orleans has done to promote voodoo as some sort of extension of devil worship, it’s not. It’s actually a blend of African tribal rituals and Christianity. Apparently to Mr. Robertson, praying to anyone other than HIS Christian God is akin to devil worship. These few sentences are really more mention than he deserves.
But the most notable of the on-air comments devoid of decency and common sense, in my opinion, were those of Rush Limbaugh. When Rush first spoke about the tragedy in terms of Obama gaining favor with both “light-skinned and dark-skinned” blacks, he was making a statement about the recently disclosed comments of Harry Reid about Obama being a good presidential candidate in part because he was a “light-skinned” black man. To this comment, I could have said to Rush, point taken. He was right, the left was far more forgiving when Harry Reid used the exact language, and Rush efficiently exposed a glaring double standard. You’ve got us, Rush.
But the man just wouldn’t shut up.
He continued on about how anyone who goes to the White House website to donate money for Haiti relief was risking having their money stolen by Obama himself. He said that the U.S. already gives to Haiti in the form of the United States income tax (a remark that frankly, I don’t get). When a caller asked him why he would tell people not to donate to the Haiti relief effort, he told her she had “tampons in her ears” and said he never discouraged donating, just said it should go to private organizations. So (taking the tampons from my ears), I hear Rush saying that the United States government has no business leading the way or even supporting the relief effort at ALL in Haiti. Just churches and civic organizations and anyone who can raise funds. Let them do it. The government needs to stay away.
But here are 2 reasons why Rush doesn’t matter:
1 – I know lots and lots of people who are conservative, republican or both. Not a single one of them seems to feel this way. I know that Rush, GleN, O’Reilly, Hannity, Pat Robertson and their entire ilk have millions of followers. But I don’t know a single one of them. What I do know is that people by the thousands have texted “HAITI” to 90999, an instant way to donate $10 to the Red Cross. In the past few days, that simple act has raised, at last count, more than $8 million, all one $10 donation at a time. Yes, I know that people who listen to Rush and Pat Robertson are likely among those contributing as well. But I have yet to hear anyone agree with the vocal vomit that either of those men spew.
2 – We are Americans. This is what we do.
As simple as that sounds, it’s true. When people say “send in the calvary,” they’re talking about us. We go to places where hope seems lost. We send soldiers in to keep peace and deliver goods and clear dead bodies from the road and hand Beanie Babies to small children. We send in the Navy on a floating hospital. We send in the Coast Guard to evacuate people and deliver aid. We send in volunteers and doctors and nurses. When a Belgian medical team leaves a field hospital for security reasons, it is an American doctor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, there as a journalist, who puts down his microphone and forgoes his reports to CNN so he can treat victims. When others step back, Americans step forward. We promote this quality about ourselves as the one thing that makes us better. Then for some reason, Rush asks us to stop. What makes him think we would do such a thing?
I remember reading an online article after September 11, the author of which I cannot remember for any reason, but I am pretty sure it was a British guy. He basically talked about how the United States often gets the short end of the stick. Other nations will curse America and what it stands for as they burn our flags and effigies of our leaders in protest. Americans are snobby and priggish and unworthy. Americans are fat and lazy and cruel and barbaric. Worldwide, disdain and disrespect for the United States and its people is widespread. But when a crisis hits, the first thing those same people want to know is, “Where are the Americans?”
And you know what? That’s fine. Because it’s our job. As Americans, we didn’t be asked to be born to this nation that is so heavily relied upon worldwide. But neither did the people of Haiti ask to be born to such extreme poverty. It’s just how it is. When it comes to Rush and his nonsense about how the U.S. shouldn’t take the helm, the fact of the matter is, most of us are better than that. Of course we’ll take the helm. It’s what we do. Why in the world would we wait for someone else to do it, when we can. When people beam with pride about how awesome it is to be an American, THIS is what they are talking about — our unwavering determination to do the right thing when the right thing needs to be done. Someone needs to help these people, so here we come. When it is the other way around, and it is the U.S. who needs the help, we know some others will of course come to our aid. But the bulk of the work will have to be done on our own. And we’re ok with that. This is who we are.
I suppose it is that attitude that makes others think that maybe Americans are a little bit full of themselves. But of all the names that those who dislike Americans can call us, I don’t mind being thought of as a snob. If the way the U.S. aids the needy of the world makes us snobby, then it’s a title we should proudly wear.
Rush doesn’t need to shut up. I mean, how great to live in a country where even the most primitive among us are allowed their own platform to say whatever they want, no matter how stupid or silly or ridiculous. But not send government aid to Haiti? What a foolish notion. That’s not us. We’re incapable of NOT helping where help is needed. We’re incapable of that, and we’re damn proud of it too.
We are the calvary. Haiti is where we belong right now.