OPINION – The silver lining to Hurricane Harvey’s devastation is how this disaster is putting the lie to a couple of current political narratives about race and government.
I just returned from spending the week in San Antonio at the State Policy Network’s annual meeting. Our weather was clear and carefree, with nothing that even hinted at the destruction going on just three hours away in Houston.
This was only my second visit to the Lone Star State, but what I saw and heard there confirmed that Texans are definitely the kind of people I’d want in my corner when the chips are down.
For the last few weeks, we’ve been fed a media narrative that racial tension is reaching dangerous levels in America. We’ve been told that a new wave of racism is flooding our nation and that if we don’t “stand” with the “right side,” we’re racist sympathizers.
Yet when the waters rose and millions of lives were imperiled, identity politics were nowhere to be found. Instead, thousands of volunteers dropped what they were doing and came to the rescue of every person they could reach.
There was no hand-wringing over race or racial considerations from the folks who were donating their means and efforts and putting their own lives at risk to bring others to safety. Many thousands of others donated supplies and spent days contributing to the relief effort to ensure that others had food, water, clothing and shelter.
One of the speakers from a Texas think tank explained why so many folks simply rolled up their sleeves and got the job done. She said, “We’re Texans. We don’t do drama.”
And so it was. Whatever ideological groupings political opportunists use to keep people divided were nowhere in evidence as rescuers poured into the area from throughout the South. The heroes did what they did without any thought about whether to be triggered or not.
Many of these rescuers fit the stereotype of a Southern redneck. These are the guys dressed in ball caps and camo who get their hands dirty at work and aren’t likely to be found chanting slogans in the streets.
They are the epitome of can-do individuals.
No one can deny that their efforts saved the day for thousands of victims of this terrible storm. They made the world a better place without first asking what was in it for them.
And none of them came to help with any expectation of fame or recognition for their efforts.
They showed up because it was the right thing to do, even if it was dangerous, difficult and involved significant risk. Whatever imperfections they might possess, these folks don’t require safe spaces to get through life.
Who they voted for is far less important than how they’ve conducted themselves.
Suddenly, all that masked courage that bravely protests slavery where it no longer exists and tries to violently shut down all ideas with which it disagrees seems pretty pitiful by comparison.
Yet another narrative that has fallen apart like a soup sandwich is the one that would have us believe that only representatives of the government can legitimately help us in times of disaster.
By definition, a disaster is an event that overwhelms the ability of first responders. Government will do its best, but the people who end up saving the day more often than not are those who don’t wait around for official permission to help out.
One bright spot of this past week was the reappearance of the Cajun Navy, which made a decisive difference in rescuing victims of severe flooding in Louisiana last year. During that flood, Texas had sent rescuers and relief supplies to its next door neighbor.
Louisiana was eager to return the favor, and countless pickups pulling boats headed to the Houston area to help. This ad hoc group expertly used cell phone apps, GPS and social media to coordinate rescues around the clock.
Thousands of business owners provided goods and services at little or no charge to those who were carrying out the rescue efforts. This included a Mexican bakery whose staff worked for 48 hours straight to bake bread for those who were hungry.
The bottom line is that when push comes to shove, no one was as obsessed with race or political leanings as the popular narrative would have us believe.
Media types and political opportunists who would look down their noses at the people who were genuinely making a difference in Texas this past week may want to check that superiority complex.
This disaster forced residents of Houston to tear themselves away from the media fear-delivery system and to start seeing the world as it really is.
It turns out that far more genuinely decent people exist than we’ve been led to believe.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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