The nasty habit of blaming people for disasters

THE NASTY HABIT OF BLAMING PEOPLE FOR DISASTERS…. When most decent people see the devastation in Japan, we see a still-unfolding tragedy caused by a brutal natural disaster. When Glenn Beck sees the same crisis, he perceives a divine “message.”

“We can’t see the connections here,” he said on his show Monday. “I’m not saying God is causing earthquakes — well I’m not not saying that either!”

“What God does is God’s business,” Beck continued. “But I’ll tell you this…there’s a message being sent. And that is, ‘Hey you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.’ I’m just saying.”

Beck continued trying to make a connection between human behavior and the natural disasters that have wreaked havoc in Japan, even casually mentioning “radical Islam” before revealing what he called “the answer.”

“The answer is, buckle up!” he said. “Because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Beck added that his audience should simply follow the biblical Ten Commandments as a way of dealing with the developments.

Sure, this is just another anecdote highlighting Beck’s lunacy, but the reason this stood out for me is because it’s part of an interesting pattern, particularly on the religious right. When there’s a natural disaster — or even, in some cases, a disaster that isn’t natural at all — there’s a knee-jerk reaction among too many conservatives to assign blame where it doesn’t belong.

Ben Dimiero noted, for example, that radical TV preacher Pat Robertson blamed Haiti’s earthquake last year on Haiti having sworn “a pact to the devil.” In 2001, Robertson and Jerry Falwell said American liberals were to blame for the 9/11 attacks, and in 2005, more than a few conservatives said Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for American misdeeds.

Glenn Beck, by some accounts, already hopes to be a leader of the religious right movement, so it’s not surprising that the deranged media personality would necessarily blame people for an earthquake and subsequent tsunami. It’s consistent with a twisted and disgusting worldview.

If Fox News executives are serious about a “post-Beck era,” here’s hoping yesterday’s craziness helps further tip the scales.