Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Acts of God, or, Rick Perry is a Moron

Rick Perry again proves that his well-coiffed hair has grown into his brain.

Or maybe he is just evil.

In fact, it's clearly the latter. Perry has claimed that the oil spill may be an "act of God."

Calling disasters acts of God is a tried and true strategy of industry (especially the insurance industry) and conservative politicians to deflect blame for the aftermath away from people. 

We've seen this in any number of ways. People argued you couldn't blame the Bush Administration for the post-Katrina disaster because the hurricane was an act of God. Of course, not getting those people out of the way or having no plan to save them had nothing to do with Katrina.

As historian Ted Steinberg has pointed out in his excellent book Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America, this kind of argument has a lengthy past. In 1993, for instance, the Missouri and Mississippi rivers flooded. In Hannibal, Missouri, local leaders had decided to protect the historical district where Mark Twain grew up. They put up large levees around this part of town. But all those levees did was force the water further south where it exploded upon the poorer area of the city south of the historical district. Local leaders then said they weren't responsible because it was an "act of God."

You see this all the time--when heavy rains fall and cause a poorly built dam to burst, it's an act of God. When a tornado rips through a mobile home and leaves well-built homes standing, thus killing the poor, it's an act of God, never mind that the larger issue is that poverty forces people to live in homes without foundations. When deforested mountains and mountaintop removal cause erosion and clogged riverbeds that leads to flooding in West Virginia, it's an act of God.

But Rick Perry takes this morally bankrupt claim to a nefarious new level. At least when people usually claim something is an act of God, there is some kind of natural process involved--hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, etc.

In this case however, nothing remotely "natural"  happened at all. I guess it's the Gulf Coast's fault for having oil underneath!

If this is an act of God, what isn't? I guess mountaintop removal will be an act of God! And the cancer caused by chemical plants in Perry's state of Texas? Also, an act of God!

Utterly revolting.