With all the ongoing human tragedy in Japan, hundreds of thousands of people left homeless, thousands killed, plus the continued threat of nuclear disaster you'd think that some compassion would be in order. But for some members of our population, ignorant either willfully, accidentally or fictitiously for political ends (yes, Rush Limbaugh I'm talking about you), the disaster is just an excuse to express that lack of human understanding. Keep reading for the ugly, insensitive depths of uncaring some people (some of which is NSF, you've been warned) thought it a good idea to share with the world:Let's start with Rush. Media Matters has a short transcript of how Limbaugh tried to tie the Gaia Theory, recycling, and Prius manufacturing all together in one pathetically stupid knot:
CALLER: I need some of your wisdom. I'm confused. At the top of the first hour, you played a clip. Diane Sawyer, I believe, about the recycling that is still going on in Japan.
LIMBAUGH: I did. You're right.
CALLER: If these are the people that invented the Prius, have mastered public transportation, recycling, why did mother earth, Gaia if you will, hit them with this disaster?
LIMBAUGH: Well, that's an interesting question.The Japanese have done so much to save the planet. He's right. They've given us the Prius. Even now, refugees are still recycling their garbage, and yet Gaia levels them [laughs], just wipes them out. Wipes out their nuclear plants, all kinds of radiation. What kind of payback is this? That is an excellent question. They invented the Prius. In fact, where Gaia blew up is right where they make all these electric cars. That's where the tsunami hit. All those brand new electric cars sitting there on the lot. I like the way this guy was thinking. It's like -- it's like Gaia hit the Prius in [inaudible]. It's like they were in the crosshairs, if we can use that word, it does. What is Gaia trying to tell us here? What is the mother of environmentalism trying to say with this hit? Great observation out there, Chris.
Great observation? I don't even know where to begin in deconstructing the levels upon levels of idiocy going on here. From making fun of tragedy, to misunderstanding the Gaia Theory by sticking anthropocentric notions of causality and Western philosophical notions of retribution, it's all just stupidity of the highest order.
1) Who is this guy? Some embittered character in Mad Men angered by his experience fighting the Japanese in World War 2? No, he's perhaps in his early 20s at the latest. So, perhaps we should forgive him for just not having grown up yet and not knowing that the hate he's spewing in the above tweet really is both ignorant on many levels and profoundly hurtful to those people affected. But based on his continued vulgar (and at times pornographic bordering on pedophilic, you've been warned) tweets I don't think that may be the case.
2 ,3) Just because some places in Japan don't respect dolphins and whales in the way that we'd like (I openly include myself in that pronoun) doesn't make either gloating over this disaster, nor attempting to link that to why an earthquake happened where it did the right thing to do. Spewing hatred at people who you think are doing wrong only serves to make them dig in their heels, doing nothing to bring them around to your way of thinking. Anyone else continuing the meme of Japan deserving to be hit with a tsunami because of their treatment of cetaceans, you really need to reexamine your thinking. Really.
And I won't even go into the woeful misunderstanding of the concept of karma expressed here.
4) Then there's the just rank cultural ignorance expressed above.
5) Oh, Asia deserved this?!? The entire continent of Asia deserved this? Every nation from Turkey through Iran, the former Soviet Republics, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Russia, Indonesia, Japan, and every country in between both categorically "treats citizens like shit" and deserved to get hit with a earthquake so powerful it's estimated that this is a once in 1000 year event? Astounding reasoning, grasp of geography, history, and politics there. When you realize that @mollymshephard's profile pic has her drinking a 40 and flipping everyone the bird, it becomes a little bit easier to understand the motivations of her viewpoint.
Look, the point of this isn't just to highlight the lowlights of the human condition as expressed in 140 characters and through a well-financed bully pulpit of talk radio. It'd be easy to just get worked up and angry about these woefully pitiful reactions and lash out. After all I've linked most of these people's twitter accounts, those that I haven't are just a few clicks away, and Rush is easy enough to find. But let's not do that. Let's instead take it as an opportunity to remind these people, politely and civilly, that their hatred and ignorance isn't welcome, that their ignorance is no excuse for offensive behavior, and that now is the time for reaching out a helping hand not slapping people across the face.
More on the Japanese Earthquake:
Millions Saved in Japan By Good Engineering and Government Building Codes
Update on Japan's Nuclear Crisis at Fukushima