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The Wrath of God

Fri, Jan 20th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

“I don’t care what people are saying uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day,” New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin said in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech on Tuesday. “This city will be a majority African-American city. It’s the way God wants it to be.”

Now, in fairness to Nagin, he later explained that you get chocolate by mixing dark chocolate and white, meaning that he wanted a diverse population.

But also in his speech, Nagin said “God is mad at America,” in part because he does not approve “of us being in Iraq under false pretenses.”

“He is sending hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it is destroying and putting stress on this country,” Nagin said.

He said God is “upset at black America also.”

“We are not taking care of ourselves. We are not taking care of our women, and we are not taking care of our children when you have a community where 70 percent of its children are being born to one parent.”

Nagin has borrowed a chapter out of evangelist Pat Robertson’s book. A few weeks ago Robertson reacted to news of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke when he said on his “700 Club” TV program, “God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says `This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, `No, this is mine.”’ “This is God’s punishment for “dividing God’s land.”

I am always stupefied when I hear people like Nagin and Robertson invoking God’s wrath as if they have some kind of personal connection to the divine that the rest of us don’t.

For Nagin and Robertson, God is an Old Testament figure right out of Noah’s Ark, one dimensional and full of retribution and anger.

Nagin’s plea is as a besieged leader of a community that has hit dirt bottom. And he does feel like Noah trying to man the boats.

While Nagin’s plight is psychological, Robertson’s disbelief, on the other hand, is political, making for good television for listeners devoid of the ability to think for themselves.

Nagin, Robertson, and even President Bush, whose God told him it was alright to invade Iraq, would do well to move on from the Old Testament’s pestilence, floods and war, to the New Testament. There they will find a much more benevolent God.

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