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Liberal website replaces tweet ‘Houston doesn’t showcase America at its best’ after backlash

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Liberal website Slate has been hammered for a tweet it sent that diminished the heroism of people helping victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“Houston doesn’t showcase America at its best,'” the headline read in a tweet sent on Tuesday.

Writer Katy Waldman argued that the heroism shown by rescuers in Houston were not symbolic of the actual state of relations in America.

“The flood, the animals: It all felt so mythic,” she wrote. “In coverage of Harvey, the word hero is almost as ubiquitous as the stills of intrepid reporters, their rain slickers swirling like capes, and hunky National Guardsmen in life jackets. During a speech to the press on Monday, President Donald Trump noted that crisis showcases ‘the best in America’s character—strength, charity, and resilience.’ (This was a reprieve from his popcorn-gobbling tweets about Harvey’s unprecedented, riveting destruction.) The Washington Times echoed Trump with a piece spotlighting the many Clark Kents and Diana Princes vaulting into action: ‘Hurricane Harvey Brings Out the Best in America.’ There is an adage that ‘adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.'”

And this story revealed Waldman’s character, as she cited a book by author Rebecca Solnit that “argues that emergencies provoke from us a conditional virtue. They create provisional utopias, communities in which the usual—selfish, capitalistic—rules don’t apply. ‘Imagine a society,’ Solnit writes, ‘where the fate that faces [people], no matter how grim, is far less so for being shared, where much once considered impossible, both good and bad, is now possible or present, and where the moment is so pressing that old complaints and worries fall away, where people feel important, purposeful, at the center of the world.'”

“The point here is obviously not to diminish the bighearted men and women who rose to the occasion when Harvey, a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ storm with a spiraling death toll, slammed into Texas,” she wrote, before diminishing what they did. “But it is misleading to characterize Houston as an exhibition of the “best of America” when what it represents is a contingent America, a “paradise” specific to the “hell” around it. These waterlogged suburbs have become zones of exemption, where norms hang suspended and something lovelier and more communal has been allowed to flourish in their place. Disaster scientists have repeatedly punctured the myth, perpetuated by Hollywood and the media, that cataclysm awakens our worst selves. Rather, disruptive events loosen our mores just enough to permit new kinds of compassion.”

Waldmn and Slate were roundly burned on social media for their insensitivity and replaced the tweet with a new one it, apparently, thought made them look better.

But that didn’t stop the barrage of anger.

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Carmine Sabia


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