Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"An Obsession to Blame"

"We live in a world where we can no longer accept that accidents or disasters are natural ."

Are we so enamored with litigation in the US that we believe all wrongs can be made right by blame?

BBC writer and professor of sociology at the University of Kent, Frank Furedi observes, "the view that disasters are caused by acts of nature is being gradually displaced by the idea that they are the outcome of acts of human beings."

He contends this relatively new trend creates new challenges for victims now "facing a double disaster. One that is about physical destruction and loss of life, and the other which is the legacy of bitterness, confusion and suspicion."


Read the whole thing - easily the best essay so far on Katrina and its aftermath.


Blogger Darrell said...

I love this part of the essay, which sums it up very well: The rise of secularism led to an important shift in the way society conceptualised disasters. The development of science as the new source of knowledge altered people's perception of disasters. They were increasingly defined as an act of Nature. Though science could explain why and how it occurred, a natural disaster has no special meaning.

Exactly. Secular science-worship has convinced that that we're capable of anything... and, therefore, that if we fail to prevent something bad, there must be a person who's responsible. Secularism and liberalism are so deeply entwined that it's difficult to imagine that those pointing fingers would do so if a liberal were president.

9/07/2005 06:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“There is no one moral story that we are all prepared to accept. That means we are in danger of facing a double disaster. One that is about physical destruction and loss of life, and the other which is the legacy of bitterness, confusion and suspicion.”

The author is right. The triumph of science in the past century is a two-edged sword. It has fostered the perception that technology and human innovation can solve every problem and that God is increasingly irrelevant. Katrina and its aftermath should remind people that human solutions cannot prevent disasters of Nature or human nature. I also agree with the author that the attempt to assign blame at this early stage in the recovery effort is not only counterproductive and inconclusive (does anyone even come close to having the necessary facts to make a full and fair analysis?) but only increases the trauma of the very victims who are ostensibly being defended by the finger-pointing.

It compounds the disaster by an order of magnitude when the nation cannot simply mourn a tragedy and come together for the aid of comfort of the afflicted. But this too is human nature and should not be surprising. Opportunists who use such events to inflame racial hostilities and further political agendas are as morally repugnant as looters and gougers of gas-prices. In fact, they are worse because they use their disproportionate influence to divide and dispirit a proud and generous nation.

Heaping mounds of blame may satisfy the appetites of the ravenous vultures of human suffering but blame never fed a starving child or gave shelter to a homeless family. Now is not the time for recriminations but compassion. The story that is currently being eclipsed by the blame-a-thon is the unfolding drama of the monumental efforts of the unsung and anonymous thousands of military and civilian rescue workers on the front lines, churches of every stripe, relief organizations, businesses and millions of ordinary caring Americans dipping deeply into their pockets to restore what Katrina has stripped away, one life at a time.

Yes, eventually we will need to know what went wrong in order to improve our response in the event of future calamities. There will be a time to render a full accounting of those mistakes. Now is not that time.

9/08/2005 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous ray b. said...

From the Onion:

God Outdoes Terrorists Yet Again

Officials Uncertain Whether To Save Or Shoot Victims

Nation's Politicians Applaud Great Job They're Doing

Area Man Drives Food There His Goddamned Self

Bush: 'It Has Been Brought To My Attention That There Was Recently A Bad Storm'

White Foragers Report Threat Of Black Looters

Government Relief Workers Mosey In To Help

Louisiana National Guard Offers Help By Phone From Iraq

9/09/2005 01:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where to start:

#1) The equivocation between the implicit claim that people blame the administration for the disaster (which is not true) and the blame people are laying on the administration for a slow and (even self admittedly) poor response is rather blatant. While the blame for the hurricane is out of the administration's hands, rather clearly the blame for any single death which could have been prevented with a more effective response is a fair blame to lay with the administration.

#2) Why is it that the republican administration only decries the "blame game" when they're to blame? It seems like a rather universal truth that the only people who want to avoid the blame game are those who are to blame.

#3) Could secular means, if properly applied have prevented many of the deaths and much of the destruction from Katrina? Obviously yes. Why in the world shouldn't those who (again, self-admittedly) failed to effectively use the means at their disposal be blamed for their failure? When people die due to negligence, it is blameworthy.

If a child dies due to negligent parenting, we lock up the parents. If thousands die due to negligent president-ing, we complain about "the blame game?" What sense does that make?

9/10/2005 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Bohemian Like You said...

You raise some good points - in particular, the parenting analogy.

Comparing the federal government to parents is part of the problem in my opinion. But for the sake of discussion, wouldn't good parents get their kids out of a Hurricane's path before it hits?

I'm all in favor of identifying negligence where it exists.

However, the fact that you and so many in the media point out *only* the President for blame leaves me wondering if you really want to prevent another tragedy or simply further a political agenda.

9/10/2005 11:53:00 AM  

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