Two images haunt my mind from this week’s hurricane coverage. The first image is emotionally daunting We were told that 25,000 body bags were ordered in the aftermath of the tragedy. The second image blows the mind An extremist group promised the media in their press release that their political demonstration would include posters that would make “excellent visuals.”
What a contrast between the tragic and the contrived. What a stark example of harsh reality and cold-hearted, calculated opportunism.
Most of us, already stunned by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and concerned about the health risks from the toxic floodwaters in what is left of New Orleans, are horrified by a report from the Associated Press that officials have 25,000 body bags at the ready. At the same time, while the nation mourns and looks for ways to help victims, we are appalled to see Left-wing extremist groups using the hurricane in ways that constitute exploitative politics at its worst.
MoveOn.org, the activist organization founded to defeat President Bush in the 2004 elections, continues its anti-American efforts by leading the way in its blame-Bush-for-the-hurricane campaign. They held a political demonstration on Thursday in front of the White House “protesting” the President’s “indifference.” Their remarks and statements were filled with factual inaccuracies and in an extremely tasteless move tried to titillate television reporters with promises of “camera-ready scenes of Bush-bashing.”
On Thursday, USA Today reported that MoveOn.org planned to release a racially provocative television advertisement in hopes of pulling John Roberts into their blame game, thus derailing his confirmation hearings. Later in the day, when word got out and numerous groups condemned MoveOn.org for “politicizing a national tragedy” and for “exploiting hurricane victims” the group backed away from the television ad.
The left-wing blog DailyKos is the second most visited blog on the Internet with over half a million visitors every day. They recently published a lengthy guide for liberals to take advantage of the hurricane in their efforts to discredit President Bush.
Howard Dean continued his race-baiting in a speech to black pastors in Miami telling them that race determined who was rescued and who was not.
Obviously, these Far-Left ideologues are desperate to blame a conservative President instead of local liberals. Such crass manipulation of facts for political gain in the midst of a national tragedy affecting so many U.S. citizens is unconscionable.
These attempts to capitalize on the tragedy may backfire.
Two separate facts have come to light refuting widely reported “evidence” that cuts in federal assistance to the area produced conditions that caused flooding after the hurricane and that terrible foul-ups by federal officials caused the Superdome disaster. First, from an unlikely source, The Washington Post reported on Thursday amazingly, front-page, above the fold that the Bush administration has given Louisiana almost $2 billion, making it #1 in receiving federal aid for emergency preparedness. Further, Fox News Channel reported on Thursday that the American Red Cross was ready to deliver water, food and survival supplies to the Superdome, but was stopped by Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D), who explained that she wanted people to leave the facility, not attract more people to it.
In the face of a possible, staggering five-figure death toll and horrific pictures of devastation, it is hard to imagine anything more calloused than groups willing to distort facts to fit their political agenda. When American minds are stunned with images of people whose lives have been uprooted by flooding, it is unthinkable that a group like MoveOn.org would promote protest signs as “excellent visuals.”
Indeed, the visuals that haunt most of us are pictures of children who have been separated from their parents and of a temporary morgue set up in a rural warehouse being readied for thousands of bodies. Nor can most of us erase the image of evacuees and rescuers wading through floodwaters containing snakes, corpses and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 10 times the safety-level for bacteria.
Harriett Beecher Stowe once observed that a mind capable of great sorrow is capable of good. I would paraphrase her remark to say that a mind capable of opportunism in the face of a tragedy like Hurricane Katrina is incapable of good.
Janice Shaw Crouse is Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.