By Arturo R. García
As Andrea noted in Monday’s links, there’s a whole lot of ridiculousness going around as the world watches the events in Japan unfold. But there’s also been a couple of positive notes among the weirdness.
The #prayforjapan hashtag, which spread over Twitter, has spawned its’ own collection of tweets from the scene, well-wishes, and first-person accounts, including this:
“I received an email from my Korean friend: “The only country to have experienced nuclear attacks. The country that lost the WWII. The country that suffers from typhoons every year and the earthquakes. However, isn’t Japan the country that always stood up and overcame such difficulties? Gambare. Gambare.” FYI, I am crying right now.”
Also, CouchSurfing.org has created a group specifically for members who can either use temporary housing during the crisis, or make their own homes available for those displaced. This note has been added to Monday’s Open Thread on fundraising efforts, which we encourage you to visit for donation options, or if you know of any charity efforts going on in your area.
Call it a collision of tension and media “accessibility”: Even as she tried to report on the opening earthquake and tsunami early Friday morning, CNN anchor Rosemary Church found herself becoming the story after criticism surfaced online accusing her of making light of the situation. Here’s some Mediaite video of Church’s live report:
Based on that, said Chris Taylor at Mashable, at least one infamous statement made during the telecast was attributed to Church by mistake:
The anchor in question, Rosemary Church of CNN’s International Center in Atlanta, did not make any “Godzilla jokes.” One of her guests, an American eyewitness named Matt Alt, describing the video footage, said “these waves of debris, it is almost like a monster movie.”
Tweets at around this time slammed Alt, misidentified as a CNN reporter or anchor, for making a “Godzilla-esque” reference. Later retweets removed the “-esque.”
Church’s words could not be accurately described as “joking”. Her tone, clearly irksome to many viewers, is another question. An anchor with some serious news chops — she covered 9/11 and the fall of Slobodan Milosevic, among other major events — Church also has a bubbly, Australian-accented voice. Some of her statements around 2:15am ET, according to the Twitter stream, may have sounded inappropriately jovial. That’s when the earliest cluster of results for “CNN laughing” appear:
Far less ambiguous was CNBC’s Larry Kudlow’s error. In (apparently) trying to explain to viewers that the stock market had not been affected too negatively by what had happened, Kudlow said, “The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that.” Kudlow subsequently apologized – via Twitter, of course, and not on the air.
When disaster hits, it doesn’t take too long before people start victim-blaming “in the name of God.” And sure enough, you had your Glenn Becks of the world grasping at thorned straws. But as Phillip at YOMYOMF noted, in this case it’s also hitting closer to home:
Senior pastor David Yonggi Cho of South Korea’s Yoido Full Gospel Church (the largest church in the whole world for those keeping score) told an online newspaper that the quake may have been punishment for the Japanese people’s refusal to accept Christ: “Japan sees a lot of earthquakes, and I think it is regrettable that there has been such an enormous loss of property and life due to the earthquake. Because the Japanese people shun God in terms of their faith and follow idol worship, atheism, and materialism, it makes me wonder if this was not God’s warning to them…I hope that this catastrophe can be turned into a blessing and they take this opportunity to return to the Lord. We in Korea look at Japan and think that at this juncture, more than a physical earthquake, it is in need of a holy spiritual earthquake.”
Even Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo, got into the act yesterday when he told reporters that the earthquake and tsunami were divine punishment (tenbatsu) for the Japanese people’s sinful lifestyle.
Even the faux-religious tried to get in on the act, like “tamtampamela,” the YouTube user who sought – and got – plenty of attention with a rant of her own, which included this breathless declaration:
On Wednesday at the start of Lent, believers all over the world came together and we have been praying specifically for God to open the eyes of Atheists all over the world, literally in every corner in every direction; any place that there is an Atheist we’ve been praying for God to open their eyes and to see that there really is a God that he does exist and that he loves them and that he is the God of the Bible – that the Bible is true.
And just a few days, not even a few days later, God shook the country of Japan. He literally grabbed the country by the shoulders and said “Hey look, I’m here.”
Oh it’s just so amazing to see how God can just answer prayers like this and I am just so overjoyed and so encouraged for the rest of this Lentle season, I am going to be praying even harder than I have ever before.
On Monday night, though, she … well, she didn’t exactly show remorse. She released a brief, rambling video saying she had been “trolling for a year,” which apparently meant the whole thing was supposed to be a joke, before closing her account.
And speaking of bad jokes:
Keep it classy, gentlemen.