2011.06.08 Hot air over disasters

Written by David Green.


When those crazy e-mails arrive—the ones that are sent to a couple dozen people after they were forwarded to everybody in someone’s address book after they were sent to a few dozen other people, etc.—those e-mails that sound so authoritative and persuasive but are actually closer to hogwash and tommyrot...I usually do one of two things when one arrives.

I either hit “delete” while rolling my eyes or I head to Snopes.com and send an e-mail back to the sender showing how the letter just sent to me is entirely wrong. That latter approach is leaning toward rudeness, but I don’t want people believing this poppycock and twaddle. And then I’m done with it.

What’s so different about the letter I received three weeks ago, that one still sitting on the edge of my mind that seems to be thumbing its nose at me? Why can’t I let that one fall away?

I’m not really sure. Every time I think about this letter, it makes me wonder how people can be so full of hatred. And the person who sent it to me wrote “interesting” at the top, as though what followed was actually true information.

The e-mail is called “two standards?” and compares Hurricane Katrina with floods in the Midwest. Here’s how the e-mail starts off:

“After Katrina, the media blamed the lack of response on the Bush administration’s dislike of black people.

Can we then conclude from the lack of media coverage and response by the Obama administration that Obama doesn’t like white people?”

That’s a pretty heavy opening, and it all begins with “the media.” The next paragraph lets you know the media has not reported on the flooding in North Dakota and Iowa. Then it asks why the media is not asking the tough questions about why the federal government has not addressed the flooding in the Midwest.

This caught me off guard. I didn’t know Iowa had experienced major flooding this spring. This was May 19. I searched and couldn’t find anything. Then I went to Snopes and learned this twisted e-mail started years ago about a blizzard. It’s been reworked over the years about other natural catastrophes whenever someone’s racist feelings boil over a little too much.

There’s a good reason for the media’s lack of coverage. It’s been months since there was a serious flooding problem in Iowa. This letter is actually comparing Hurricane Katrina with the flooding of the Mississippi River in 2008—about five months before that uncaring Barack Obama was elected president.

The e-mail wants to know why the media isn’t asking about the lack of FEMA trailers and supplies. Why isn’t the government helping? Where are the looters?

For the record, President George Bush did respond quickly with aid to Iowa and nearby states in June 2008. There were even FEMA trailers delivered to Iowa. There were even a few looters.

As with most of this sort of e-mail, there’s just enough mention of things that annoy many people that they want to believe what they’re reading, to accept it as “interesting” and truthful.

“More people died in these floods than from Katrina...how come the media doesn’t report that?!!!!!”

I can answer that one. Because the media isn’t that stupid. More than 1,800 people died from Hurricane Katrina and about 14 in the Midwest floods of 2008.

But why even compare the two? Why am I even spending time with this? Because it’s just so troublesome to think that people believe this garbage, and all the other forwarded e-mail “facts.”

As if the phony death count wasn’t enough to tip off readers, the letter closes with the requisite “WAKE UP, AMERICA!” warning, this one claiming that the government controls the media and soon the government will control our country.

Author, journalist and radio host Brooke Gladstone says “the media” exists only in our heads. It’s a concept she calls “the influencing machine,” taken from a delusion common to schizophrenics who think some outside influence is controlling them. The media, the government, Obama...something is taking over their minds. Interesting.

  • Front.cowboy
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  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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