Ray Nagin: 'God is mad at America'
It will be interesting to see whether the statements of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin get the same degree of media play that Pat Robertson's statements about Ariel Sharon received. One might think that a government official's declarations on the mind of God would be more newsworthy than those of a broadcaster.
But maybe not. The Baton Rouge Advocate plays Nagin's Martin Luther King Day speech with this headline: "Nagin urges rebuilding with unity of residents: Mayor vows to bring black community back." The New Orleans Times-Picayune says, "Evoking King, Nagin calls N.O. 'chocolate' city: Speech addresses fear of losing black culture."
Both are probably reflective of local concerns. Louisianans may care more about what a rebuilt New Orleans will look like than they do whether Ray Nagin invokes God for his political purposes.
But nationally, the headlines focus on Nagin's theodicy. "Hurricanes May Be God's Punishment, Mayor Says," says the Los Angeles Times. The Associated Press goes with "New Orleans Mayor Says God Mad at U.S."
Here are the relevant parts of Nagin's speech:
Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country. Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves.
Equating the hurricanes with God's wrath is theologically problematic. But it's even more theologically problematic to invoke God directly in your plans to rebuild the city: "This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."
Of course, ...1
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