There is nothing so cheap as politicizing a tragedy. Doing so shifts the focus from the victims to scoring hollow points at the expense of one’s political opponents. No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself on, stooping this low is unacceptable.
Right now, there are palpable divisions in the United States. This is why the sense of community seen in the wake of Hurricane Harvey has been reassuring, even in the midst of great loss. Most people, regardless of worldview, will help each other out when faced with devastation of this kind.
Unfortunately, there are still some who use catastrophes to their sick advantage. Over the past few days, we have seen our fair share of them.
Media personality Keith Olbermann routinely opens his mouth when he shouldn’t and reminds us of the fool he is. On Saturday, not even 24 hours after Harvey made landfall, Olbermann tweeted filth at Secretary of Education Betsy Devos:
Truly, the man is classless.
Two days later, Olbermann tweeted a half-hearted, passive-aggressive apology indicating he should have aimed his words at Devos’s boss instead. And I’m supposed to believe his heart is with the people of Texas?
Another example came on Sunday when a (now former) professor at the University of Tampa tweeted that karma might have had something to do with the trajectory of the hurricane, reported USA Today:
Since-deleted tweets from Kenneth Storey, a visiting assistant professor of sociology, spread across the internet after they were posted Sunday.
The first stated, “I don’t believe in instant karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn’t care about them,” according to the Tampa Bay Times, the Palm Beach Post and WFTS, a Tampa television station.
Apparently, certain Texans are supposed to believe their losses of life and property are their fault for voting Republican. How callous and self-absorbed can one person be? Kenneth Storey has now been fired by the University of Tampa. Whether he should have been is another matter entirely, but everyone can agree that his comments were incredibly cruel.
When natural disasters strike, more often than not, the sitting president goes and surveys the damage. When Obama was in office, I did not look down on his trips to affected areas. He was doing what a leader needs to do in trying times.
But with Trump in the White House, some are taking every chance to ridicule the president, even when doing so disrespects the victims. Political commentator Ana Navarro did just this when commenting on President Trump’s trip to Texas on Tuesday morning:
Not only did Navarro ridicule the president’s duty to attend to the citizens of his country during their time of need, she attempted to equate the suffering they’ve already experienced to that of seeing him in person. Navarro weighed her options and determined that politicizing the tragedy was in her best interest. You see, she hates Trump, and getting back at him is all that matters. Compassion for the thousands of affected Texans never entered her mind. Her comparison was both embarrassing and heartless.
As if that weren’t enough, the general Trump-hating audience on Twitter collectively groaned at First Lady’s Melania Trump’s choice of footwear. She was wearing stiletto heels as she left the White House, and this caused quite a stir. When the president and first lady touched down in Texas, Melania had changed into comfortable tennis shoes. It’s unlikely those in Texas dealing with the storm’s aftermath cared about Melania’s choice of footwear. Why? Because such a trivial, partisan thing never matters when need is great.
In each of these instances, the goal was to score political points by rebuking the GOP or the Trumps. Such sniping is hollow and disgraceful.
Tragedies, whether they are man-made or natural, should never be treated with pettiness by onlookers. You are absolutely free to loathe the political players involved, but you should never disrespect the victims or downplay the severity of what they’re going through.
So while disaster brings out the best in people, it often brings out the worst, too. Fortunately, it’s the images of Texans helping each other that have drawn most of our attention, not Keith Olbermann’s pathetic sneers.