Tag Archives: CFACT

People Politics

On Katrina

I have a friend who is unquestionably one of the smartest and typically self-confident people I know, who starts many of his observations with “Now I’m not a very smart guy, but… ” often enough to be noticeable, anyway. I also know him well enough to say that he’s serious. It’s not self-deprecating shorthand nor is he seeking empty compliments. I don’t know why he says it but there it is.

Near the conclusion of what had been a humorous, well-presented, and interesting speech, Jonah Goldberg pronounced the speech to be ‘terrible’ and I thought of my friend.

Jonah visited the University of Minnesota at the invitation of CFACT, Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, to give a talk ‘On Katrina’, as the flyer indicated. Knowing a little of Jonah’s off-beat humor, I half expected the speech to be ‘On, Katrina!’, but never mind.

Jonah framed the topic of Katrina nicely as a package of stories that the MSM is most comfortable covering: natural disasters, the plight of poor minorities, in a nice global warming box tied up with a ‘get Bush’ bow. As evidence, he cited a decent string of unchecked-but-checkable rumors reported as fact: New Orleans sniper gangs, rapists roaming the Superdome, and others.

The irony is that the MSM holds up the Katrina story as a model of reporting – motivated by public service, uncovering government ineptitude and corruption. Whereas in reality the breathless reporting of outlandish stories (later to be proven indisputably false) while trying to lay the whole blame on W’s doorstep is a model of all that’s wrong in the modern mainstream media. A classic of ‘world about to end – minorities and women hardest hit’.

Jonah made sure to point out that Bush is far from blameless in the whole affair, citing Bush’s penchant for cronyism, (where FEMA appears to be a fertile landing ground) and FEMA’s role as a post-disaster check-writing organization rather than a first-responder.

Much of the most interesting portion of the evening came during the Q&A with a discussion of the philosophical underpinnings and motivations of modern environmentalism and the paganistic religious motivations of the movement’s founders and, knowingly or not, of its modern adherents. Without going into a detailed account, let me just say both the words ‘theodicy’ and ‘theotropic’ were used properly in complete sentences.

So in my mind, Jonah’s speech was good and interesting, replete with his characteristic humor (with a few forgettable ‘laff-lines’, to be candid) my favorite being a throwaway about New Orleans police corruption being part of a the city’s ‘rich, European tradition’.

I’m not a very smart guy, Jonah, but that was anything but a terrible speech.