Kingdom by the Sea
Asymmetrical Information has this link to a Juan Cole post, citing the lack of destruction in New Orleans (on August 30) as a refutation of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson's assertion that God visited 9/11 on America for its moral transgressions. The text of Professor Cole's blog post is reproduced below and it is utterly convincing.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Bourbon Street Unscathed Christian Terrorists Proved Wrong
Bourbon Street in New Orleans is relatively unscathed. Amid so much death and destruction, that New Orleans did not take the full fury of the storm, and so many lives were spared, is one small consolation. But let us consider what this means in light of the twisted logic of notorious Christian terrorists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (I once saw Falwell advocate assassinating Muammar Qadhafi). Their shameful attack on the United States and its values is below. In the terms of their logic, and given today's news about Bourbon Street being saved from destruction, only three conclusions are possible.
1. God does not exist.
2. God does not use natural or man-made catastrophes to punish people for moral failings.
3. God does not actually object to people having a good time occasionally.
However, if we substitute the term "History" for God in Fallwell and Robertson's argument, we arrive at Ward Churchill's Justice of Roosting Chickens. Professor Churchill argued, "On the morning of September 11, 2001, a few more chickens -- along with some half-million dead Iraqi children -- came home to roost in a very big way at the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center. Well, actually, a few of them seem to have nestled in at the Pentagon as well." It is the same theme of retribution visited on innocent people -- oops, "little Eichmanns" -- for the moral transgressions of America.
Not far behind on behalf of their deity are Gaia's adherents. Der Spiegel has a roundup of European commentators who feel sure that Katrina is nature's way of warning America about the effects of Global Warming.
Hurricane Katrina is big news for German commentators, whatever their ilk. For some, the powerful storm which slammed the Gulf Coast on Monday, is a symbol of the sort of environmental terrors awaiting the world thanks to global warming and proof positive that America needs to quickly reverse its policy of playing down climate change.
Of course, it does not follow that because Cole turned out to be wrong that both Falwell and Robertson are right -- or does it? I leave it to the readers to discover, what, if any, logical errors these arguments contain, bearing in mind of course, that those who advanced them are still confident of their eventual vindication. My favorite example of possibly mistaken causality is provided by Edgar Allen Poe. But then he was part mad, and probably knew it.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love -
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me
Yes! that was the reason
(as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.