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From the Progressive Mind: Empathy or Antipathy; It’s Your Choice

by Gary Thompson

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have blasted the Southern Coast of the United. We’ve all seen the pictures and videos. People who willingly chose, or were ordered, to evacuate were caught in bumper to bumper traffic on freeways and moving at a snails pace.

Homes have been washed away or destroyed beyond recognition with entire neighborhoods leveled. The death toll from Irma, as of this writing, is 12 in the U.S. with many more in the Caribbean. As of September 6, the death toll from Harvey stood at 70 people.

Yes, Harvey and Irma have left death and destruction in their wake, but there is more than that. There is empathy, hope and help from the American people.

According to CNN, “The Cajun Navy, the famous volunteer rescue group that formed in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, (mobilized) to Houston to deliver desperate residents from Harvey’s downpour.”

As refugees stream out of Florida, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says, “Atlanta area residents are coordinating efforts to offer up their homes for Hurricane Irma evacuees”

Even Congress and the President (who can’t seem to do anything else at all) got into the act; a recent Washington Post headline reads, “Trump signs $15 billion Harvey aid package …”

Time and time again, Americans have shown themselves to be caring, generous people who will literally open their homes to stranger in need.

And yet, when it comes to disasters either natural or manmade inflicted on people who live in other countries, especially in countries where people’s skin color is a little darker than most of ours, the empathy disappears and in its place come apathy, or even worse antipathy. We see the pictures and videos of starving children in the Sudan. The Los Angeles Times’ headline reads, “People are starving in East Africa — Again — as the World Looks Away.” Apathy.

CNN released the photos and stories of a “Little boy in Aleppo a Vivid Reminder of War’s Horror.” America’s response was a ban on travel to the U.S. on people from six majority Muslim countries including, Syria, Somalia and the Sudan.

When people flee to the U.S. from the country ABC News calls “… the Murder Capital of the World …,” they are either detained at the border or rounded up by ICE. Not to mention, the Guardian reports the “US government [is] deporting Central American migrants to their deaths.”

Oh, remember that good news about Congress and the president working together to pass a $15 billion emergency disaster relief package? Here’s WaPo’s headline in full: “Trump signs $15 billion Harvey Aid Package after Republicans Booed Top White House Officials.” I have no other word for this type of behavior than antipathy.

Well, I guess that’s not true. I have many other words for this type of behavior and none of them are nice.

America is not a nation that harbors an aversion, strong feelings of dislike or even hatred or hostility to those who have been so unfortunate to be the victims of intense disaster.

America is a kind and generous nation. It is time we remembered that and started acting that way.

I’m not saying we should open our borders to all comers. I’m saying that there is a very broken system in America for treating immigrants and especially refugees. If Congress and our Administration can come together to help our neighbors in Texas and Florida, they can come together to help our neighbors around the world.


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