I miss Ashley Morris in all sorts of ways, but oh lord do I miss his responses to outsiders who casually blamed New Orleanians and Gulf Coastal residents for being so… afflicted by calamity. Morris popularized a special term for these nimrods, which immediately came to mind when I read a stunning example of heartlessness at a blog on Slate.
Someone named “No Sympathy” asked “Prudie,” Slate’s resident expert on manners and morals, the following question:
I recently caught my Sunday school class off-guard when Hurricane Katrina was brought up, AGAIN! (*Sigh*) I made it known that I have no sympathy for anyone that lost homes, lives, loved-ones, etc., when Hurricane Katrina hit. My reasoning: 99 percent of those people made a CHOICE to live in an area that they knew was prone to hurricanes. Therefore, it was my opinion that I shouldn’t have to feel sorry for someone that made a mistake and chose to live in the wrong area of the United States. Does this make me a bad person?
That’s stone-cold mookery on stilts. I mean, where do you even begin to untangle this? Prudie responds pretty deftly – “Do you teach at the Ayn Rand ‘It’s Your Own Fault’ Sunday school?”
To show the flaws in No Sympathy’s argument, Prudie makes an analogy to Noah and the Flood. That’s all right, as far as it goes. But since the events of 8/29 went beyond a hurricane to include a catastrophic Federal Flood – which for New Orleans meant the difference between an “ankle deep” soak and a drowned city – I think the Good Samaritan parable is also applicable. After all, back in Jesus’ time, “99 percent of those people” knew the road to Jerusalem was dangerous. If you traveled it alone, you deserved what you got, right? Why not just move away from “the wrong part of the country” and choose to live in Jerusalem, rather than risk getting mugged? And after you get robbed and beaten, do you expect random passers-by to go out of their way and treat you as a neighbor? It would be better if you were more careful in the first place, or at least carried a gun to protect yourself. And if Good Samaritans keep helping you after you’ve been beaten down, you’ll never learn your lesson.
It’s a pity No Sympathy did not specify his or her region of the country. Where is this self-sufficient, disaster-free El Dorado? I’d hate to think it’s some boot-strappin’ red state that brags about self-reliance while subsisting on federal tax receipts, farm aid and mineral royalties.
What I would’ve given to be in that Sunday School class when No Sympathy sighed, and explained why anyone who lost “lost homes, lives, loved-ones, etc.” deserved their fate. Holy smokes, I would’ve done Ashley proud.