The Nashville Flood, Self-Reliance and the Mainstream Media

Judging by the inexcusable lack of coverage of one of the most devastating non-hurricane weather events in American history, the mainstream media apparently rates self-reliance, the quintessential American virtue celebrated in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous essay, somewhere between capitalism and Christian on their list of most despised things about the United States. What else can explain the paltry 15 minutes of reporting about a storm that killed several people and caused billions of dollars in damage?

If not for the fact that one of my brothers is a longtime resident of Music City, along with his wife and four children, I might not even have known about the 500-year flood as it unleashed its devastation in real-time. And as I followed his reportage in links and photos posted on Facebook, I read and saw the unimaginable: Famous landmarks, including The Grand Old Opry and the Opryland Hotel (site of Paul and Angela’s wedding reception) were basically ruined. Motorists died in their cars sitting in traffic on the interstate.  Entire areas of the city were underwater. And yet, barely a peep from those self-ordained purveyors of all the news that’s fit to print or broadcast.

So why exactly is that?

Well, as this excellent We Are Nashville post so eloquently explains, middle Tennessee residents are a resilient sort, embodying the characteristics that have helped shaped this nation. Rather than whine about the unfairness of Mother Nature or point the finger of blame at the White House or any government entity, they channeled their inner American Pioneer. They rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Neighbors helped neighbors. Volunteers flooded the Hands On Nashville phone lines to sign up to help with emergency food-relief efforts (when Paul called to offer his services, he was asked to call back, as all slots had been filled).

What didn’t happen?

Unlike what transpired in another southern city hit by a crippling storm a few years back — a city deemed by the media as worthy of ad nauseam coverage — there was no crime spree. In the aftermath of heart-wrenching destruction and chaos, there were zero reports of looting, assault or rape. Oh, and neither the mayor, nor any elected official in either Nashville or Davidson Counties got on national television and shrieked about how it was all Barack Obama’s fault (although the least the President of the United States could’ve done was issue a statement of support). They were too busy actually doing their jobs and fulfilling their responsibilities to the locals who elected them.

Funny, but the residents of middle Tennessee bear a striking resemblance to Louisiana’s neighbors, Mississippi and Alabama. Parts of those states were hit just as hard as New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, yet they barely merited any mention on the nightly news either. And instead of looking for a scapegoat, these American citizens also went to work. Side-by-side, neighbors of all colors, races and creeds rebuilt their homes and their lives. They also had competent governors who executed well-planned disaster recovery procedures, in fulfillment of their obligations and responsibilities as CEOs of a state.  And in stark contrast to the myth perpetrated in the media and in pop culture, southerners proved that they are for the most part, decent, caring, generous folks — not wild-eyed, Bible-thumping, card-carrying KKK racists.

All things considered, it’s no wonder why Nashville’s unprecedented flood went purposely unnoticed in the mainstream media. Because if it’s one thing they cannot abide, it’s the American spirit  of resilience, generosity and self-reliance in action — particularly when demonstrated by Christians who happen to live in the land of Dixie.

Daria DiGiovanni

Author of Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal, copy director and partner in Parasol Creations, and co-host of Conservative Republican Forum.

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About Daria DiGiovanni

Author of Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal, copy director and partner in Parasol Creations, and co-host of Conservative Republican Forum.
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  • Lisa F

    The holier than thou attitude is not shared by all affected in Nashville, thank goodness. Neither do I know what all the hype is about no coverage, guess I just hit the right stations. I watched this all week on TWC, Good Morning America, and our local network news here in Texas and our prayers and donation went out.

  • dariaanne

    Who's holier than thou, Lisa? The fact of the matter is, much more time was spent over the weekend on two other stories of equal importance, than to the Nashville flood as it took place. In 2005, the media largely the devastation Katrina unleashed on Alabama and Mississippi, which is some cases was just as bad as New Orleans. It's a simple fact that there were no crimes sprees in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi as we witnessed in Louisiana.

    Mayor Nagin dropped the ball on his obligations as Mayor, as did then-Governor Kathleen Blanco, who refused to follow the proper policy by declaring a state of emergency. But as the skewed media narrative went, it was all exclusively the fault of George Bush. Mayor Nagin, in an egregious display of incompetence and attitude, went on national television and excoriated the president, as if he directed the hurricane to hit his city. Meanwhile, empty buses that could've transported people to safety sat underwater in a parking lot.

    At the same time, officials in the other states were busy taking care of their own, while neighbors helped neighbors recover. In New Orleans, police walked off the job and many residents looted and committed other crimes. These are all facts. Yet the media was too busy blaming a Republican president and pushing the "racism" narrative to extol the virtues of other Americans who banded together and refrained from using a natural disaster as an excuse to steal.

    Call me and the Nashville folks holier than thou if you so choose, but facts are facts. And I am sure they are deeply appreciative of your prayers and financial support.

  • Greg Victor

    I agree with you Darla. I have seen ten times more coverage from the folks out there directly affected (thru their own efforts to get thru it.. and help each other out.. thru all kinds of creative, industious ways) than I did coverage about the devastation.

    I didn't see just how bad it was until friends sent me photos of the Grand Ole Opry underwater.

    Thanks for telling it like it really is in the real world. Nashville is a big ol' town, full of people that know how to git 'er done. Plain and simple.

  • Paul

    Nashville is a really cool place because a lot of really cool people live here. When disaster struck, we did what we do best: rolled up our sleeves and got about the work of helping one another out. Those (like me) who were fortunate to dodge any serious damage feel an obligation to help those who did not. No one gave us marching orders, no one told us how to behave. If anyone wants to understand why I left the northeast to come to Nashville, it has been on display this past week.

    None of that invalidates the points that Daria makes. The national media have ignored us, as has the President. Do you think he could have said some words of sympathy and encouraged others to rally around us? If not, why not? Might it be that we're a red state with 2 GOP senators? Or that we have a conservative Democrat governor who does not always see eye to eye with this administration? Shouldn't a president rise above petty politics?