I’d like to take this opportunity to blatantly politicize the catastrophe in Houston. Before I begin, however, I’d implore everyone to stop describing such events as “biblical.” I’d wager that modern disasters dwarf anything seen in biblical times. There is just so much more nasty shit that can go wrong in our marvelously complex world. A city of over two million people flooded with toxic water beats a plague of locusts any day.
English is one of the most varied and nuanced languages in the world. Use it. Come up with something new, Mr. and Mrs. Pundit (and while you’re at it, stop using the word “surreal” to describe anything out of the ordinary.)
Let me go out on a limb and say America will learn all the wrong lessons from this
biblical god-awful shit storm in the Gulf. Do not expect our society to begin thinking seriously about global warming. Do not expect us to change our ways one iota. In short, do not expect us to soberly reflect on this tragedy and its implications for the future. That is what mature and responsible adults do. We are not mature and responsible adults. This is the soul of contemporary America:
It is loud, loutish, grossly juvenile, militantly ignorant and stupidly aggressive (which is why, incidentally, I don’t think Donald Trump is an aberration, but is in fact is the perfect expression of who we really are). It is easily distracted by shiny objects and utterly incapable of thinking in terms of fundamentals. It is the malleable plaything of demagogues, con men, and asinine pundits who actually have people believing that cutting taxes on billionaires is good for the middle class, that permanent war is normal and healthy, and that global warming is a hoax. In the face of rising temperatures, we have people who think its cute to make their trucks do this:
Nations have distinct characters and character is destiny. We are exhibiting all of the same dysfunction as the the Greenland Norse, the Easter Islanders, and many of the other extinct civilizations chronicled in Jared Diamond’s Collapse. Like them, we are stubbornly resistant to change. We simply cannot and will not imagine any other lifestyle than the one we have. Nor can we honestly face our problems. Instead, we retreat into pathological denial and double-down on all of the stupid and destructive ideas that are responsible for bringing us to this pass in the first place.
Do expect the free market theologians and privatizers to swoop down on the Gulf like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz, imposing market discipline and spreading charter schools around. At this moment, Betsy DeVos is probably on her knees with all of the other pernicious evangelicals in the Administration, giving thanks to her barbarous God for this heaven-sent catastrophe.
Do expect the corporate media to avoid mentioning climate change and focus instead on human interest stories and maudlin puff pieces about our heroic first-responders. Do expect the wicked Texas Republicans who voted against aid for Hurricane Sandy victims to change their tune and discover a new found love of big government spending.
The good new is that my predictions are often wrong. I hope I’m wrong again.