“You Gotta Thank the Lord, Right?!”

God - Michelangelo“You gotta thank the Lord, right?!” Am I right?! Really! The Lord! You gotta thank him?! Right?! Right?!

As the tornado was bearing down on Moore, Oklahoma, Rebecca Vitsmun and her infant son were waiting it all out in their bathtub. But as Vitsmun watched the coverage on her laptop computer, she became convinced that the storm was coming right toward them. So she put her son in the car and drove off in the opposite direction. And they survived! But when they got back, the house was destroyed.

That’s when CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer showed up. He interviewed the young mother and asked what any objective journalist would, “You gotta thank the Lord! Do you thank the Lord? For that split-second decision?” Vitsmun seemed a bit uncomfortable. “I’m, I’m, I’m…” she stuttered. And then, giving him a big smile said, “I’m actually an atheist.”

So I guess that split-second decision had more to do with watching the news and making a rational decision rather than, say, getting telepathic advice from Odin.

Here’s the clip. It is a lot of fun for two reasons. First, of course, is the very awkward Wolf Blitzer. Second, is the wonderfully bright and happy atheist

In a broader context, this is a horrifying instance of journalistic malfeasance. Blitzer is hectoring this poor woman. In fact, he first says, “You gotta thank the Lord!” Vitsmun says in a very meek voice, “Yeah.” It is only when he pushes her that she decides to make an issue of it. And good for her! This is one of the few times that a journalist is completely nailed for his cultural prejudices. It’s great to see.

It might have been interesting if Blitzer had asked the song, “You gotta thank mom, right?!” Damned right!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on ““You Gotta Thank the Lord, Right?!”

  1. Two points regarding the Moore, OK tornado disaster: First, and this is kind of related to your article, I’ve noticed a lot of the survivors of the disaster saying things while being interviewed like "We prayed and God got us through." Or, standing in front of their completely devastated community and demolished homes, "We’re so lucky that we’ve got God on our side. He saved us." I really hate this kind of thing for several reasons. First, why did God save [i]you[/i] and not the 7 children that lost their lives in the Plaza Towers Elementary School? Wouldn’t it make more sense if God had just made the tornado change course and miss populated areas, or not form at all, rather than send it straight through a suburb with 55,000 residents and [i]then[/i] save [i]you[/i]? The self-centeredness of it reminds me of people who say "God Bless America," which is equally irritating to me for obvious reasons.

    I just don’t understand why people feel that they’ve been saved, or lucky, all the while they’ve lost everything they own and fellow members of their community. I suppose you could argue that they’re lucky to have lived through it, but if God has the power to save you from death in a violent tornado, then why doesn’t he have the power to just stop the tornado from forming in the first place? Surviving a tornado might be lucky in some instances, but it is most certainly not divine intervention, even if God were to actually exist.

    Second point: When I first heard about the inevitable disaster relief coming in, I wondered if any Oklahoma politicians had blocked disaster relief to other states in the recent past, as so many conservatives often do. And Oklahoma is a very red state. Sure enough, I found out that at least two legislators, Oklahoma Senators Jack Inhofe and Tom Coburn, did in fact vote against federal disaster relief aide on multiple occasions. Specifically, they voted against federal disaster relief going to the states devastated by Superstorm Sandy. That strikes me as incredibly hypocritical, to say the very least.

    Inhofe was even making the case on TV that the situations are different, and, in effect, that Oklahoma is more deserving of aide than the states affected by Hurricane Sandy. What a contemptible fuckwad. I’d like to see him say things like that to natural disaster victims from other states in person, and tell them that he is going to vote to deny them disaster relief.

  2. Whoops. After I posted my comment, I scrolled down to see that you’ve already written about Inhofe and Coburn’s hypocrisy. My bad. I sort of thought that you might be planning to write about it.

    You always seem to be on top of any relevant news. I don’t know how you keep up with it all. I guess that I could too if I put the time and effort into it, but anymore I try to shelter myself from it all. It’s hard for me to take these days. I still read your blog daily, but sometimes I read a title and skip the article because I know it will just bum me out. I used to skip the movie reviews to get the political stuff, now I skip the political stuff to read the movie reviews and things like that.

  3. @Mack – I figure that any given person skips most of the articles. In fact, I kind of know what stuff is going to bore people, but I figure I should write it. It’s my effort to make people eat their vegetables.

    It’s funny. When I didn’t write much about politics, people asked for me to write more. Now they ask for less. I understand that. It’s a bit overwhelming. The funny thing is that although I have certain general points that I try to push, I don’t feel like I’m repeating myself. But I do often think I write too much politics. It’s the least expensive addiction I’ve ever had, so I indulge.

    That was very funny what you wrote. It’s true, it is all relative. Also: note how God gets the credit for good things (survival) but none of the blame for bad things (tornado). You’d think these people would figure it out.

    Now I must go, because there are another three political articles I want to write. And I need to go out for a walk before my blood solidifies in my veins.

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