For No God’s Sake

The nightmarish aftermath of the Moore, Oklahoma EF-5 tornado is in rebuilding and rebounding mode. People are digging out of the mess. Survivors located. Businesses re-opening.

And the stories emanating from the Prairie are running the gamut. From heart warming to predictably dire. The human spirit seems both undaunted and inexplicable. 

But because the world we live in now has around the clock news cycles and a plethora of channels devoted to same, sometimes the mavens of media reveal themselves to be a sorry lot. So was the case of Wolf Blitzer–a CNN talking head of much experience–and his interview with a local named Rebecca Vitsmun whose response to a question posed by Blitzer threw him.

Blitzer asked Vitsmun if she thanked the Lord for presumably sparing her life and that of her baby. She replied (nervously) that she didn’t as she was an atheist, quickly adding that she didn’t blame people that did.  

It was quick and she was good humored about it. But there’s something really rancid about Blitzer’s question. The subtext isn’t theological or even sociological. It’s bigotry–Oklahoma is a deeply religious state with an enormous Evangelical community, so Blitzer assumed without asking that this woman must be one of those people.

This is no different than asking someone with an Irish surname what beer they drink, or a Mexican their favorite recipe for salsa or any number of stereotypes. The presumption that this woman is religious without asking (did the same question arise in New Jersey after Sandy?) pigeonholes Oklahomans as one-dimensional fanatics.

If you are a person over a certain age (40 say), ask yourself if newsmen asked these questions in our long gone youths. They didn’t. It would have been seen as trivial, leading and out of place. But because our culture has been “Tebowed” to death by loud public declarations of fealty to the Lord, this kind of piffle is not only manistream, it’s encouraged.

The moment passed, but it seems to have ignited the standard back and forth over the existance of a God or not. Not the issue (although asking someone whose home was razed if they thank the presumable force behind the razing does seem a little absurd). Religion is a matter of faith, conjecture and wishful thinking/culture. The news is supposed to be facts. I know that Blitzer has to filibuster to fill space, but c’mon, man–everything has its place.