I've spent the last few days walking around my quiet little Boston neighborhood looking at the houses, the cars, the shops, the trees. I look at my wife, my neighbors, my cat. Then I close my eyes, and in that darkness I see it all wiped out, washed away, obliterated, shattered to kindling and utterly gone. I see a moonscape of annihilation, no reference points in sight, nothing familiar. I see the day after the end of everything, and the horror of it comes nowhere close to the reality that is Japan.
There are no words for this. Only the pictures can tell the tale, but you can't photograph radiation, so even that falls short. It is, quite simply, one of the worst events I have seen in my life, and I am half a planet away. Actually being there, buried in rubble or looking for missing loved ones or staring down a nuclear nightmare, is more than my mind can encompass.
And it's not nearly over. The horror of all this is only just beginning. The funeral industry in the stricken northern region is already overwhelmed, and there are still thousands - if not tens of thousands - of bodies waiting to be found. The process of cleaning up the devastation and then rebuilding will be Herculean in scope. Looming over it all is the seemingly inexorable threat posed by six damaged nuclear reactors.
The destruction and suffering involved here is unspeakable...and so, of course, the ghouls descended.
In this, there are degrees of ghoulishness. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried made some Twitter jokes which failed with such terminal velocity that he was fired from his Aflac spokesman gig an hour after he hit 'Send.' Rapper 50 Cent sent a Tweet about having to "evacuate his hoes," another attempt at humor that fell utterly and obnoxiously flat. The moral here, I suppose, is that celebrities should have their Twitter accounts suspended whenever a disaster takes place, so as to save them from themselves.
These are two fairly nauseating examples of some of the reactions to what happened in Japan, but these pale in comparison to the reactions from a pair of soulless cretins we know all too well. Try to contain your shock, but yes, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh went out of their way to peg the needle on the Ghoul-o-Meter in the aftermath of the Japan calamity.
Mr. Beck, facing the recently revealed possibility of being removed from the Fox tribe, decided to double down on The Crazy by claiming the earthquake and tsunami in Japan were divine retribution from God for bad behavior and the existence of Islam, among other things:
BECK: We can't see the connections here. Now look, I'm not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes. Well - I'm not saying that he - I'm not not saying that either.
God - what God does is God's business, I have no idea. But I'll tell you this: whether you call it Gaia or whether you call it Jesus - there's a message being sent. And that is, 'Hey, you know that stuff we're doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.' I'm just sayin'. And - yesterday I got home and I was thinking about all the messages that I could bring in, all the things that I could tell ya, and oh I've got stuff on Hezbollah. Oh, I have stuff on radical Islam in America that'll make your eyes fall out. Or I could just tell you the answer, and the answer is: Buckle up. Buckle up, 'cause it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Make sure you keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times. Because, things are gonna get bumpy and, just a few reminders there at the beginning as this rollercoaster takes off, always a good safety tip: Keep your arms and legs in. Don't do anything stupid, what do you say we follow the big top ten. You can call them Moses' ten commandments, or ten rules of thumb. What do you say we start doing those things? Because the things we are doing really suck and they're not getting better.
So yeah, Beck is not saying that God struck Japan because you're a bad person doing bad things and because he has stuff on radical Islam...but he's not not saying it, either.
The theme of a vengeful Gaia is suddenly all the rage for the scumbag wing of the Radio Right, as evidenced by Rush Limbaugh's gleeful reaction - literally: gleeful - to the catastrophe in Japan. The March 15th edition of his radio show featured a caller who joked about nature taking a hard shot at Japan despite that nation's excellent recycling policies. Vomitous hilarity ensued:
CALLER: I need some of your wisdom. I'm confused. At the top of the first hour, you played a clip. Diane Sawyer, I believe, about the recycling that is still going on in Japan.
LIMBAUGH: I did. You're right.
CALLER: If these are the people that invented the Prius, have mastered public transportation, recycling, why did mother earth, Gaia if you will, hit them with this disaster?
LIMBAUGH: Well, that's an interesting question. Let's go back and grab Diane Sawyer. Audio sound bite number nine. This is her report on a shelter for refugees in Japan and how they are handling their waste management.
DIANE SAWYER: This is a shelter. Some of these people here for days, and look, it's recycling. Organized for recycling.
GUEST: Plastic, combustible, burnable, canes.
LIMBAUGH: Did I really hear this? Did I really hear -- Diane Sawyer is in a refugee camp in Japan. Play this again. This is almost like a kindergarten teacher talking to the four year olds. That is how old you are in kindergarten, right? Five? Five? Four? Alright. This is - some of these people here for days and look, look it's recycling, organized for recycling.
SAWYER: This is a shelter. Some of these people here for days and look it's recycling, organized for recycling.
GUEST: Plastic, combustible, burnable, canes.
RUSH: My god, she sounds like she saw her husband for the first time in six months there. Oh, it's recycling, look, organized for -- these people are in the midst of earthquake devastation and the credit they're getting is for recycling and our caller Chris with a great question. The Japanese have done so much to save the planet. He's right. They've given us the Prius. Even now, refugees are still recycling their garbage, and yet Gaia levels them [laughs], just wipes them out. Wipes out their nuclear plants, all kinds of radiation. What kind of payback is this? That is an excellent question. They invented the Prius. In fact, where Gaia blew up is right where they make all these electric cars. That's where the tsunami hit. All those brand new electric cars sitting there on the lot. I like the way this guy was thinking. It's like -- it's like Gaia hit the Prius in [inaudible]. It's like they were in the crosshairs, if we can use that word, it does. What is Gaia trying to tell us here? What is the mother of environmentalism trying to say with this hit? Great observation out there, Chris.
It is worthwhile to note that, for reasons passing understanding, Rush Limbaugh is still prominently featured on American Armed Forces radio. Currently, there are scores of American service members in Japan assisting with the search for the lost and the injured. They are witnessing firsthand the reality of this disaster. One wonders if those men and women find it all as funny as Rush does.
Do me a favor, gentle reader.
Step outside. Look all around you at your familiar surroundings, your home, your car, your place of business, your garden, your family, your pets, your neighbors, your friends, your life.
Now close your eyes and imagine all of it gone, just gone, reduced to matchsticks and blood.
Now make a joke. Blame it all on people you don't like.
Yeah, I didn't think you could.
You're a human being, not a ghoul.