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.