Wishing for mortal tragedy is not a Hot Take

Kristen McQueary writes for the Tribune.

Envy isn’t a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

But…I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago ā€” an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.

That’s what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans.

Is that what happens after you and your family drown? Someone hits the reset button? Somehow Kristen skipped right over the part where tens of thousands flee the devastation, emergency workers pour in to minister to the sick and dying, and to retrieve all the corpses, and then at some point everybody sits down at a table and tries to figure out whether New Orleans should become the World’s Biggest Shrimp Farm.

Residents overthrew a corrupt government. A new mayor slashed the city budget, forced unpaid furloughs, cut positions, detonated labor contracts. New Orleans’ City Hall got leaner and more efficient. Dilapidated buildings were torn down. Public housing got rebuilt. Governments were consolidated…

Hurricane Katrina gave a great American city a rebirth.

I understand how a bad writer can call the aftermath of a near-death experience a “rebirth.” But if your politics are such that you wish a mass-murdering catastrophe upon a city in order to slash budgets, force unpaid furloughs and lay off thousands of people – workers who may or may not be dead – you’re worse than just bad.

Suppose that I didn’t like the attitude of a certain writer. What if I then wrote about an incident where he or she went through a near-death experience, like being shot or raped? What if I claimed they had undergone a “rebirth” and become better people?

Would it be alright for me to wish it would happen to Kristen McQueary? Would that be a good editorial? No. It would not.

Makes me wish you’d go away.

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