October 24, 2007
Fires, Glenn Beck, and other natural disasters
I have family (father, aunt, grandmother) in San Diego County. They were evacuated from their home early Monday morning. The house is tucked in among lots of other houses, so I would be surprised if it ended up burning, but the fact that the fires have gotten as close as a mile away is sobering, to say the least. I was just out there last month. Most important to me, of course, is the fact that my family members are safe — but once I made sure of that, I began dwelling on all that’s at risk. The house that is the closest I have to a house I grew up in that I can still go back to (the actual house I grew up in — from age 4 to age 16 — was a rental, and while I do think I might head back there someday and ask if I can just have a look around for old times’ sake, it’s not the same). The hawk I saw hop nonchalantly off a tree branch just beyond the backyard. A variety of familiar vistas.
And I think of a spot next to a gas station just a mile or two away from the house. It’s a location where day laborers congregate. Where have the day laborers gone? My father volunteers at Interfaith Community Services — where have the people who depend on those services gone? If you were already homeless before the fires, are you still allowed to go to Qualcomm Stadium? If not, what are you supposed to do?
I can understand the desire to compare the current CA wildfire season to the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Natural disaster, displaced people, an excuse for wingnuts to rant about god’s punishment, potential for governmental ineptitude. But it is rather like comparing apples and oranges in a lot of ways — or, as the Rude Pundit puts it, comparing apples and drowned people. This isn’t to say my heart doesn’t break for the people who’ve lost everything — of course it does. There are still people, friends from high school, for the most part, that I need to get a hold of, make sure they and/or their families are all right. And for the individual who is looking at the smoking rubble that used to be her home, the fact that things could be worse is cold comfort, I’ve little doubt. Still, apples and oranges.
One thing’s for sure, though: Glenn Beck can kiss my ass.