Some time, in the last few weeks, a major earthquake hit Alaska. It wasn’t out in the hinterlands, but close to Anchorage, and it wasn’t a tremor but rather registered 7.0 on the Richter scale. For those of you who have never lived in an earthquake-prone area, that is huge.
I randomly found out about it over a month later while catching up on a blog by a woman who lives in that region. How could this be? How could I be so out of touch with a major event that took place in my own country?
When I was growing up, my parents watched the nightly news on TV as well as getting a daily paper. As I recall, they could choose between three or four news shows over the course of an evening, but whether they chose the show with Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley, they would pretty much hear the same information that they would then read about in depth in the next day’s paper.
In contrast, I don’t watch TV and while I can access information online 24 hours a day, it may be completely different information depending on the source I choose to peruse. I read the same daily paper my parents did, yet I rarely take the time to absorb it all.
While I missed the news about the earthquake, and despite not deliberately searching out this information, I do know that Melania Trump wore boots when she visited the troops overseas with her husband. Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less about her shoes, but it seems that many Americans who are outraged, horrified and appalled at everything that anyone associated with the president does (unless it reflects badly on him) are obsessed with them. I admit to skipping a lot of articles for fear that they are biased, inaccurate and vindictive writings masquerading as news whose only goal is to bash the president. I have even stopped reading certain columnists I used to enjoy because they have become one-note and bitter pundits. Since Alaska’s governor applauded President Trump’s reaction to the earthquake, the entire event was non-news.
I think there is a second reason as well. There were no deaths. Even the airport reopened within a few hours. Alaska is truly the last frontier and its citizens are proud of their “can do” attitude rather than, “I’m a victim” mentality. However, our news cycle prefers victims over victors, thereby stifling good news. Alaskans are rightly proud of the lack of devastation and are marking it up to wise building codes and infrastructure planning. Touting that accomplishment goes against the grain of the culture. It suggests, for example, that California, which also sits on an earthquake fault line, might use its money more wisely by investing in infrastructure rather than, shall we say, a light-rail system to nowhere that does little more than delight liberal sensibilities. But planning ahead to cope with calamity might commit the cardinal America crime of ‘blaming the victim,’ even if those victims have not yet been harmed and wise leadership could pre-empt their ever being harmed. Better to let a bunch of people die and then we can read blazing headlines mourning their victimhood. Increasingly, that seems to be the American way. Happily it is not the Alaskan way!