Friday, January 15, 2010

On Haiti, Grace, Rush Limbaugh and the Definition of Un-American

'Are there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.

'Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

'And the Union workhouses.' demanded Scrooge. 'Are they still in operation?'

'They are. Still,' returned the gentleman,' I wish I could say they were not.' [...]

"I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned - they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.'

'Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'

'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.'

I've been thinking about grace, Scrooge and Rush Limbaugh over the past day or so. (I normally don't spend a lot of time thinking about Rush, but the tragedy in Haiti has created an exception.) Rush, as you may have seen, had some less-than-charitable things to say about the Haitian earthquake, including that "we've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax."

Of course, the dittoheads are claiming he was misquoted or that what he said was taken out of context ("He didn't say not to donate! He said not to donate through the government!") So I went and listened to the tapes myself. And while he certainly says not to donate through the government, nowhere does he say that people should donate through charities, either.

Instead he says that government shouldn't get involved because there are charities who do that kind of work. As if that whole charity thing takes place out there somewhere, magically, a matter of a good fairy waving her wand and making money and workers appear in a way that doesn't require anything at all from you, or me, or him. And he essentially states that people should NOT donate to relief efforts because "you just can't keep throwing money at [Haiti.]"

("'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.'")

What disturbed me most, though, was this: I challenge you to click on that link, listen to the commentary, and hear one tiny iota of compassion for the people -- many of them children -- who are suffering and dying. I promise you: you won't find it. There is no recognition at all of the fact that these people are even human. And this man speaks for an entire political movement.

I've found myself wondering, over the last day or so, if this lack of compassion isn't the new definition of the word "unAmerican." If the refusal of the people to sacrifice anything at all for the good of their fellow human beings will finally be the reason our country collapses.

When did so much of our country become so viciously, callously selfish? Weren't we once a country who cared?

Or is that the a rose-colored historical perspective speaking?

Of course, there is a chance that Rush will now encourage people to donate, today, after the fact. That would give me hope. Because it would mean that people are reacting to Limbaugh's words with revulsions, and his sponsors are discovering that his political gain before humanity brand doesn't sell on Main Street. At least past a certain point.

We can hope.

I'd like to close with some words of wisdom on another person lacking in compassion, Pat Robertson, who stated on TV as fact that Haiti's problem are a result of their making a pact with the devil two-hundreed years ago. I found this on an excellent blog post by someone who's actually done mission work in Haiti: "Do Not Listen to Pat Robertson."

"My prayer is that Pat Robertson gets to experience genuine grace before he dies. Whatever foulness infected him early and has grown unabated must be a terrible and difficult burden. Do not envy him, do not try to follow his teachings. I actually feel some compassion for him, while hoping his "ministry" will fail so that others would not be stained by his anger."

For Rush Limbaugh, I say: Ditto.

(Finally, on Rush's assertion that "all the money goes to the dictators?" If that's your fear, please watch this video on UNICEF. And then donate, to them or any other major charity.)

P.S. As always, Jon Stewart has the best take on these events.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic post!

Anonymous said...

A much less compassionate reaction to Pat and Rush, but oh, how articulate!


Roslyn said...

I have to take issue with your statement "And this man speaks for an entire political movement."
I am not sure which "movement" you mean, but if you refer to the conservative "movement" I can tell you that [a] Rush does NOT speak for
"an entire political movement" he is a talk radio "entertainer" and [b] historically & statistically conservatives donate around 30% more to charity than liberals.

I do wish that you would please not generalize so without any facts, there is way too much angry rhetoric and it is so easy to offend.

bethstrand said...

Wow, I was going to make the exact same comment as Roslyn. Please don't presume that Rush or any other "entertainer" speaks for anyone but themselves. Many of these "commentators" are nothing more than shock jocks. I happen to disagree with both Rush and Pat and, like you, wish they were more compassionate in their speech. Certainly the people of Haiti need our aide regardless of what their leaders may have done in the past.

Laurie said...

I wasn't speaking of the conservative movement, per se, I was speaking of the selfishness movement that's been taking root in our country and keeping us from accomplishing anything for good. Rush Limbaugh (and his several million followers) being the biggest practitioners.

Laurie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurie said...

P.S. Anyone who tithes to charity (a full, Biblical 10%) gets a pass from me -- provided that tithe doesn't go to buy more megachurch helicopters. The Mormom church near here is extremely conservative, but I'd never count them among the members of the selfishness movement.

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