The University of Tampa just fired a visiting professor who suggested on Twitter that Texas deserves the deadly devastation from Hurricane Harvey because the Lone Star State voted for President Trump in the 2016 election.
Visiting Assistant Sociology Professor Kenneth L. Storey is out after he tweeted Sunday, “I don’t believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully, this will help them realize the GOP doesn’t care about them,” according to Twitter screenshots.
Storey added that “the good people there need to do more to stop the evil their state pushes. I’m only blaming those who support the GOP there.” He also said that the Trump voters in hurricane-prone Florida deserved the same fate.
Bad as Storey's comments were, they weren't the first time disaster victims were further victimized by people opening their mouths and playing God. In fact, Storey has a long way to go equal Christian televangelist Pat Robertson's hateful rhetoric. Allow me to explain.
Soon after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800 and wreaking unprecedented devastation on New Orleans and so much of Mississippi Gulf Coast, Robertson weighed in with his own theory.
I remember it clearly because our family has a home near the water in Ocean Springs, Miss. and it didn't fare well in Katrina. More than a dozen people perished in our town.
"We have killed over 40 million unborn babies in America," Robertson said on his Sept. 12, 2005, broadcast of "700 Club."
"I was reading yesterday a book that was very interesting about what God has to say in the Old Testament about those who shed innocent blood. And he [the author] used the term that those who do this, 'the land will vomit you out.' ... But have we found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be connected in some way?"
On the whole, Mississippians and others on the Gulf Coast are God-fearing people. I can assure you, Robertson's words found a way to make their hurt worse.
And the angry retorts his comment drew didn't shut him up, either. In 2010 after more than 100,000 people died after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, Robertson announced on the air it was a "pact with the devil" that brought on the 'quake.
Robertson blamed the tragedy on something that "happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it."
The Haitians, he said, "were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' "
Robertson got this true story from God and apparently the devil, too.
Native Haitians, by the way, defeated French colonists in 1804 and declared independence.
"You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another."
If only Haiti had stayed under the French boot ... what? No earthquake?
As for Storey, he quickly deleted the tweets after making headlines. But the damage was done.
“I deeply regret a statement I posted yesterday,” he later apologized, The Tampa Bay Times reported. “I never meant to wish ill will upon any group. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly.” (Robertson didn't apologize that I recall.)
“We condemn the comments and the sentiment behind them, and understand the pain this irresponsible act has caused,” university spokesman Eric Cardenas said in a statement Tuesday morning. “As Floridians, we are well aware of the destruction and suffering associated with tropical weather.”
Storey was sacked, and good riddance. I just want everybody also to remember Pat Robertson and keep this kind of crazy insensitivity in balance. Such words -- such sentiment in the name of righteousness -- are inhuman no matter what political note they strike.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith