Oklahoma isn’t a place. It’s something in your blood. It’s something that you do. It’s the shirt off your back and a tear in your eye and the giddyup in your soul.
The comments regarding yesterday’s deadly tornado in Oklahoma seem to range from unconditional pleas for help on the one hand, to “political cheap shots” against the people who elected Senators Tom Coburn and James Inhofe on the other. The need for help, and the obligation for us to provide whatever help we can, however much or little, both individually and as a society, should be without question. We are all Americans, we are all humans, and we are all in this together. I disagree, however, with those who say that now is not the time for politics. We are capable enough of multitasking that we can give aid while remembering what the elected leaders of Oklahoma have said in the past. (Coburn and Inhofe stand out right now because they have been so outspoken in the past about these types of issues. I know less about, say, Governor Mary Fallin or the local authorities in Moore, who appear to be doing a stellar job.)
First off, here’s what any of us can do to help. Senator Coburn actually has a good list of aid resources on his Senate website, including the Red Cross, Food Bank, and United Way. The Red Cross operates a service called “Safe and Well” that allows people in the affected areas to report that they are okay, and lets others check on their status. Red Cross Oklahoma tweeted information on how to contribute yesterday:
— Red Cross Oklahoma (@redcrossokc) May 20, 2013
Donate money, blood, supplies, time, or whatever you can. Just do something.
Want to help? Donate. #PayForOklahoma
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) May 21, 2013
Once we have helped, I believe it is important to note that the senators from Oklahoma might not offer the rest of us help in similar circumstances. They both opposed federal aid to the region affected by Hurricane Sandy, and have generally sought to reduce funding for disaster relief. I have to give Senator Coburn credit for sticking to his principles, as he has stated that he will oppose disaster relief for his own state without corresponding spending cuts. Still, I have to wonder what Ralph Waldo Emerson might have said about Coburn’s style of consistency.
As for Senator Inhofe, the notorious climate change denier seems to be playing dumb. He has his reasons for wanting disaster relief aid for his state, and whether it is genuine concern for his constituents or rank political self-preservation doesn’t even interest me right now. He has to fold himself into pretzels, though, to account for his change of tune.
If we don’t talk about this now, then when? When the incident is receding from the memories of all but those directly affected? No. If Senators Coburn and Inhofe are the kind of people who will stand on principle by refusing to support disaster relief for the rest of the country but humbly request it for their own constituents, they deserve to be called out on it every second of every day, and they should be reminded constantly that they owe thanks to the taxpayers from the other 49 states. Oklahoma is one of those red states, by the way, that receive more federal money than they pay in taxes, around $1.01-$1.50 for every dollar paid.
The voters of Oklahoma that put these clowns in office should be reminded that the people they elected would deny to other states the aid they are receiving, until they either vote Coburn and Inhofe out of office or admit that the majority of the state’s voters does not have the nation’s back. My heart goes out to the people of Oklahoma who have suffered and lost, and my money is going to the Red Cross or whomever is making a difference up there, but I will not neglect to point out the shame that is the Oklahoma Congressional delegation. This is not mockery. Call it judgment if you must. I won’t poke fun at people in Oklahoma, but I do expect them to live with the leaders they have chosen, just as we Texans may have to atone for Senators Cornyn and Cruz.
(NOTE: The inspiration/impetus for this post came from Julie Gillis, whom I love and admire, and with whom I hope I can amicably disagree now and then.)
Photo credit: By National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service staff. (PHOTOS OF DESTRUCTION) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.