On Tragedy

So, whose fault was Katrina? Some people want to blame homosexuals; others say it's the fault of President Bush. The deaths in the recent stampede in Baghdad could be put down to the terrorists or to Islamic fundamentalism, or if you prefer you could blame the Iraqi and US authorities.

I think this is all pretty stupid. There's a time and a place to look for answers. Do you want to talk about hurricanes and global warming? Well, I think there are sensible, well-informed people on both sides of the issue, but let us suppose that industry-related global warming does exist, and that there is a causal link between global warming and hurricanes, and that the Bush Administration has not done all it could to prevent global warming. If you want to argue this case, fine!!! But even if you can prove that all of these things are true, it does not entitle you to say that "Bush caused the hurricane." That's just insane. Weather patterns - like the movements of crowds - are complex and unpredictable. It makes no sense to point to one thing, after the fact, and say, "this is what caused that to happen."

The period immediately following a tragedy should be treated with a little bit of respect. Out of respect for the lives lost, and out of respect for the first task at hand, which is to save the lives and property that can be saved. (Oh, by the way, have you made your donation to the Red Cross yet?) We need to keep our priorities in order. It's human nature to want to find an explanation - or a scapegoat - for any great tragedy. And there is a place for looking for answers, and, if need be, for assigning blame. But this should wait.

New Orleans is still under water, for God's sake. Can't you at least wait until they've finished burying the dead before you start the political finger-pointing?

Last January, I posted an abstract of Rabbi Leonard Oppenheimer's remarks on the tsunami tragedy. Rabbi Oppenheimer's words are worth reading again now; please visit the post if you have a moment.

Oh, and for those who can't make up their mind whether to blame the evil Republicans or the evil homosexuals for the hurricane in New Orleans, I think I've found the answer:

Who to Blame for Katrina