More on Haiti: the good, the bad and the ugly
01/19/2010 - 14:33
James Besser

It’s no secret that great disasters bring out the best and the worst in people – the selfless rescuers who put their own lives on the line to save people they don’t know on one hand, the looters who use catastrophe as an opportunity for larceny, petty and otherwise, on the other.

So it is with the unimaginable tragedy in Haiti.

It’s been impressive to watch the long list of Jewish groups that have set up  relief funds. To name but a few: B’nai B’rith, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish World Service, the Orthodox Union, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Jewish Federations of North America… you get the idea. Read the Jewish Week story on relief efforts here (we know, we know, the site is agonizingly slow. But change is just around the corner…).

I’ve heard reports that the Israeli embassy in Washington has been involved in a major way in mobilizing relief efforts.

On the other side of the divide: the talk-show hosts using the great tragedy to score angry political points, and Pat Robertson, who always finds ways to blame great tragedies on the victims themselves.

I liked the exchange about Robertson on Time correspondent  Karen Tumulty’s blog. A Tumulty reader asked: why don’t journalists, in citing Robertson, label him a “radical cleric,” the same way we label wacko Islamic extremists?

Tumulty liked the idea, but other commentators quickly jumped on her for daring to compare a “merely” loopy Robertson to dangerous jihadists.

Tumulty then offered up a definition of the words “radical” and “cleric,” and asks the obvious question: “What part of ‘radical cleric’ don’t you understand?:”

I second the motion.

What I find scary about Robertson: while it’s easy to write off his “judgment of God” proclamations as the almost comic rantings of an elderly nut job, there are millions of Americans who tune in every day to his 700 Club television broadcasts and to the Christian “news” outlet he created – and who seem to regard criticisms of his views as proof of the heathenish beliefs of his critics. Also chilling: the relative silence of other Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular. Why aren’t they coming down on Robertson like a ton of bricks?

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