Call me cold-hearted, but I really could not be sicker of the Haiti coverage that seems to have taken over every media source on my planet.
When I first heard about the earthquake I was in the car and it was a brief headline on NPR, I had charitable thoughts, like "Oh, how terrible!" and "Maybe I should give blood".
It wasn't until the following day that I began to get restless—when I couldn't find a single other piece of news on the air, all of my favorite blogs were asking for my donations, and I heard Obama's incredibly arrogant speech dedicating $100 million (which he later referred to as an "investment"—ha!) from our bankrupt coffers. [Remarks by the President on Recovery Efforts in Haiti, January 14, 2010]
I'd like to take this opportunity comment on President Obama's speech.
First of all, he thanks the members of his National Security team for standing with him and announces that the Haitian earthquake is to be "the top priority for their departments and agencies right now."
Really? We're at war. We had an attempted terrorist attack less than a month ago. We can't even sort out airport security and yet a natural disaster in a country that has never had any link to America is the "top priority" for Obama's National Security team?
What's wrong with this picture?
Obama went on to say that he has "no higher priority than the safety of American citizens"—but I can only surmise that he restricts his definition of citizens to American citizens actually in Haiti.
How else can he explain the flinging open of our borders to illegal Haitians already here, and offering up south Florida as the sacrificial lamb in some voodoo ceremony to appease the incredible hubris of the American political class?
Obama cites "common humanity" as one of the main reasons for his commitment to help. But what does that even mean?
He's speaking on behalf of the American government, not the American system of private charities. He's supposed to be thinking about the national interest, not knee-jerk sentimentality.
Ever heart-warming, Obama reiterates that Americans' "hearts go out" to the Haitians, and later he says that, despite their many struggles with slavery and natural disasters in the past, their "faith has been unwavering".
Whatever happened to our prayers going out to people in need? What good are our hearts? Is the term "heart" now synonymous with "wallet"?
I know, I know, you might think that Obama's terminology is just a cowardly way of getting around the Political Incorrectness of America's Christian culture.
But to continue by saying that Haitians' "faith has been unwavering" lays bare a more dangerous issue. Surely Obama doesn't mean the Haitians' faith in corruption, violence and voodoo, which is what Haiti has been mostly committed to since it threw off the French? He clearly doesn't mean education, work-ethic and planning ahead. If that were true, the fallout in Port-au-Prince would resemble that of the Bay Area in 1989 when, during the 3rd game of the World Series, a 6.9-magnitude quake killed only 63 people.
Talking heads could argue that the Bay Area and Port-au-Prince are apples and oranges because of Haiti's poverty. But whose fault is that? The Haitians have not been victims of slavery since they won independence from the French in 1804. San Francisco's first colonizing mission was established only 28 years before.
The fact is, Obama isn't referring to faith in Christianity either. He's referring to faith in America's bullet-in-foot aid.
Finally, I come to the only clip of Obama's speech that I actually heard on that first day in the car. It was this small clip which initially stunned me:
"After suffering so much for so long, to face this new horror must cause some to look up and ask 'have we somehow been forsaken?' To the people of Haiti we say clearly and with conviction, you will not be forsaken, you will not be forgotten."
Is it just me—or is Obama equating the American government (or really, himself) directly with God?
Is there any other way to interpret this? I don't see one.
For those readers who may be horrified by my callousness about human suffering, I offer this final thought.
This Sunday, I attended mass at my hometown parish. Before the collection, our priest explained that the second collection was dedicated to Catholic Relief Services, which was funneling money and help to Haiti. He described a convent which had been struck by the earthquake, much of it turned to rubble and with many resulting casualties. However, because the convent was a boarding school for children, many of whom were still in the buildings or unable to find their families, the nuns refused to leave. Our money would be channeled to help this particular circumstance. [Salesians recount tragedy in Haiti, Catholic News Agency, January 16, 2010]
I do have some hesitations about dealing with the Catholic Charities network. But this is the kind of giving that I can believe in. We donate voluntarily, from our own pockets, to people with whom we have a common interest. [U.S. Churches Look for Own in Haiti, Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2010] It is a classic example of the generosity that has always characterized Americans: we are compassionate, we are charitable and we give quietly—and effectively.
Obama's embarrassment of a speech goes against all of that. He trades compassion for catharsis, personal charity for giving away other people's money, and quiet giving for grandiose public statements.
Now who's making a pact with the devil?
Athena Kerry (email her) recently graduated from a Catholic university somewhere in America.