be patient, the drowning are told
Condoleezza Rice took a break today from her round of Broadway shows and a shoe-buying spree that would do Imelda Marcos proud. Why? To tell the hurricane victims dying hourly in their homes that their prolonged suffering is God's will, not the government's fault, and to lecture them on the virtue of patience:
Asked to say a few words from the pulpit, Rice, a preacher's daughter, said: "The Lord Jesus Christ is going to come on time." She added: "If we just wait."
Earlier at the same church service "Rice nodded in agreement as the Rev. Malone Smith Jr. advised the congregation, "Wait for the Lord." Rev. Smith and Secretary Rice were playing on the words of a beloved gospel hymn that says, "He may not be there when you want him but he's right on time." They should both be ashamed of themselves.
The blame is not God's, or nature's, or fate's, or that of statistical happenstance. Whatever your conception of a Higher Power may or may not be, the United States was given everything it needed to cope with this disaster better than it has. God was on time: it is Rice and her colleagues that were too late. And when human beings are dying, it's a sin to suggest that we - or anyone - "wait."
There's a joke popular among Christians that goes like this:
A flood came and a man had to climb onto the roof of his house. As the waters rose a neighbor in a rowboat appeared, and told him to get in. "No," replied the man on the roof, "the Lord will save me." Then a firefighter appeared in a speedboat. "Climb in!" shouted the firefighter. "No," replied the man on the roof, "The Lord will save me." A helicopter appeared and the pilot shouted that he would lower a rope to the man on the roof. "No," replied the man on the roof, "the Lord will save me." Eventually the man drowned and went to heaven, where he asked God why He hadn't helped him. "I sent a neighbor, a firefighter, and helicopter," said God. "What more do you want?"
Here's what happened in the Gulf Coast this week: God sent America plenty of neighbors, but in that part of America they can't afford cars or public transportation, much less boats. And since there was no evacuation plan, the man and his neighbors were trapped. God gave America plenty of firefighters, but between budget cuts for first responders and the number of young people being drafted and sent to Iraq, there weren't any left to help this man in his time of need. God (and taxes) have given America many helicopters, but the ones that aren't in the Middle East weren't deployed quickly enough by the guitar-carrying President or his excuse-making underlings Chertoff and Brown.
Somewhere, as I write, there is an American drowning while Condoleezza Rice and her boss suggest that he or she "wait." That's not God's will, it's this Administration's. They should not hide behind God's skirts. And they should be ashamed of themselves for trying.