FEMA Photographer Missed The Point

Depending on your perspective, you can probably categorize this one as sad, arrogant, or some combination thereof.

A FEMA photographer has been fired for asking two Mississippi church volunteers to cover Salvation Army logos on their shirts during what should have been an innocuous photo op. The women were part of a church group helping clear tornado damage in a small town.

Once publicized, the story quickly made it to the top of the agency from where the firing not surprisingly came.

You could certainly be outraged as a Christian that this is targeting or discrimination against people of faith. You could also feel disheartened by the photographer, by letting whatever beef he may have with religion in general or Christianity in particular cloud his professional judgment.

The most interesting thing more for me is a quote from one of the volunteers involved, Angela Lott: “We told him we were there to help tornado victims, because in the event it happened to us, we would need help too.”

That seems to be the most overriding point. If your house is on fire and your child is trapped, do you really care what the religious background of the firefighter is who is trying to save him or her? If your house is destroyed by a tornado or hurricane, are you asking the denominational affiliation of your insurance adjuster or construction foreman?

It also reminds of one my favorite pieces of literature, also set in Mississippi. “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” is the most well-known of the series by novelist Mildred Taylor telling the travails of the Logans, an African-American family surviving economic hardships and brutal racism in the post-Reconstruction South.

In the climactic scene of the novel, a group of white and black men are walking back from putting out a fire that threatened the lands of both the local black sharecroppers and white landowners. The narrator, written from the perspective of a roughly 10-year-old girl, describes how the ash on the men’s faces mutes their skin tones and makes them all look the same.

When disaster strikes, it’s all hands on deck. And for those willing to able to volunteer their assistance the only thing that needs to be said is, “Thank you.”

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  1. altfreq11 said:

    Peter Elliott said: “You could certainly be outraged as a Christian that this is targeting or discrimination against people of faith. You could also feel disheartened by the photographer, by letting whatever beef he may have with religion in general or Christianity in particular cloud his professional judgment.” Peter, do you have any proof that this is a case of people of faith being “targeted,” or any evidence that the photographer has a “beef” with religion as you allege?

    May 24, 2010
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