As Hurricane Irma is downgraded to a tropical storm, its destructive consequences are still being evaluated. There is no doubt that it was the most powerful hurricane recorded in modern times. Dozens of fatalities have already been reported in its wake, and the numbers are expected to increase. The human tragedy is only just beginning to be fully understood as flood waters continue to rise.
These facts didn’t stop conservative pundits and politicians from belittling Irma’s impact. Prior to its landfall in Florida, Rush Limbaugh unleashed his conspiracy theory that the media was over-hyping it to juice their ratings. Some commentators assessed the aftermath as less than what they were led to believe by a panicky press.
They should tell that to the families who lost loved ones and homes. And no doubt the estimated six million people who are without power would disagree. Affected communities will continue to struggle with blocked roads and closed hospitals and schools. And, sadly, two Palm Beach officers died in the line of duty.
Among those who sought to underplay the disaster was the alt-right leader, Milo Yiannopoulos. He’s a former Breitbart author who was pilloried for comments defending pedophilia. He’a also a proud climate science denier. Prior to Hurricane Irma’s landfall in Florida he thought it would funny to joke about the imminent danger. As reported in The Independent:
“Mr Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart News writer and editor and a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, had earlier appeared to joke about the destruction the hurricane had caused. Last week, as the storm hit the Caribbean, he wrote on Facebook: ‘In more positive Irma news, Richard Branson’s Necker Island has been devastated.'”
“And, as the hurricane headed towards the impoverished Caribbean island of Haiti, he said: ‘Irma is about to finish what Hillary started: leaving Haiti in ruins.’ That was a reference to Hillary Clinton, who faced questions during her presidential campaign against Donald Trump over the work of the Clinton Foundation in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake there.”
He’s hilarious, isn’t he? But what’s really funny is what he posted on Facebook after the hurricane passed through his home of Miami. In all caps he whined “MY HOUSE IS GONE.”
Apparently that silly old hurricane blew his home away. In all seriousness, it is never funny when anyone suffers this sort of tragic loss. Natural disasters are not selective and they do not discriminate. Even though some of their victims, like Yiannopoulos, do in overtly racist ways. They nevertheless deserve sympathy and whatever assistance is rightfully theirs from their neighbors and their government. That’s one of the enduring strengths of America and the caring people who live here.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
However, in Yiannopoulos’ case, he also deserves his share of ridicule and shame for not giving a damn about any of this until it affected him. That’s a common personality flaw of right-wingers. But we also have to be alert to the possibility that he is lying. It would not be unlike him to use the tragedies of others as prank to get attention. Assuming he’s being truthful about his loss, he can apply for aid from FEMA as needed. But he also has to accept the laughter aimed at his blinding selfishness. Maybe he will learn something from it.
UPDATE: As I speculated above, it turns out that Yiannopoulos may be lying. The Miami Herald did a little digging and found evidence that the picture of rubble Yiannopoulos said was his home belongs to someone else. If this is a prank, it is an especially heinous one that exhibits callousness toward real people who are really suffering. But then, that’s pretty much what you’d expect from this sleazeball.