Why Tennessee is "The Volunteer State"

from Tennessean images

Red Cross volunteer Ronald Woody chats with Betty Bigbie, 85, at a Red Cross shelter set up at the Smyrne Town center…

This photo is from the Tennessean. It is the first image in their gallery of pictures from the historically destructive flood in Nashville. The collection is worth visiting; three pages of thumbnail images load quickly.

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If you’re from Tennessee, you are already well aware of the flooding rains which devastated Nashville. But the rest of us didn’t know until several days later. Except for National Public Radio and Newsweek, this story has been neglected ignored by the major media.

When you dig a little more deeply into NPR’s current coverage, it amounts to one AP wire story dated May 1st. This robo report doesn’t even begin to explore the real devastation; they may as well be reporting on a flood in a remote village in India.

Before anyone says so, let me emphasize that I’m not belittling suffering that goes on somewhere else. My point is that even with NPR’s three radio outlets in the Nashville area, their national coverage was trivial. Nothing on today’s home page about the disaster, and equal nada on their news page. The blogs, big and small, are directing people where to go to donate money and goods, NPR has only a donation page for NPR.
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If you want information from this government-subsidized entity, you have to do a search on their site for a link to stations in Tennessee which carry NPR premium-based programs. Here’s the home page for WPLN. They were flooded out of their offices but have returned. They have a contact page for anyone who needs help:

While everything is returning to normal at our headquarters, we are acutely aware that many of our listeners and our fellow staff members lost so much in our recent disaster. We pledge to help with the recovery, to bring our community together, report the information people need to restore their lives. We will pursue other ways to use our influence to help and welcome your suggestions and advice. What do you need to know, how can we help?

Meanwhile, given the losses in Nashville – billions in damage and destruction and at least thirty people killed – WPLN (and the other NPR affiliates) deserve more attention from the central office in the Washington, D.C. area. These local stations pay a premium to NPR for every program emanating from headquarters. You’d think ‘headquarters’ would have the smarts to collect stories from the local media folks and spread the word. Dream on. NPR is nothing if not arrogant. Disregarding the plight of Nashville, an historic American city, shows questionable thinking – and that’s being kind.

Newsweek has some good coverage on the MSM neglect.

First the story itself, reduced to the details:

As you may have heard, torrential downpours in the southeast flooded the Tennessee capital of Nashville over the weekend, lifting the Cumberland River 13 feet above flood stage, causing an estimated $1 billion in damage, and killing more than 30 people. It could wind up being one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history.

Nashville itself considers what happened to be the worst destruction since the Civil War (and they’re picking up flak from the Left for daring to mention the war at all).

However, the point of the back story is this:

Or, on second thought, maybe you didn’t hear. With two other “disasters” dominating the headlines-the Times Square bombing attempt and the Gulf oil spill-the national media seems to largely to have ignored the plight of Music City since the flood waters began inundating its streets on Sunday. A cursory Google News search shows 8,390 hits for “Times Square bomb” and 13,800 for “BP oil spill.” “Nashville flood,” on the other hand, returns only 2,430 results-many of them local. As Betsy Phillips of the Nashville Scene writes, [her blog is called Pith in the Wind– D] “it was mind-boggling to flip by CNN, MSNBC, and FOX on Sunday afternoon and see not one station even occasionally bringing their viewers footage of the flood, news of our people dying.”

The author of this piece, Andrew Romano, suggests two possible reasons for what he calls the MSM’s ‘cold shoulder’.

The first problem from Mr. Romano’s perspective is that the current system for covering news is “a horrible feedback loop”. In other words, the major outlets are busy cribbing from one another and playing follow the leader rather than leading themselves in any given situation. It’s not what stories are important, it’s what stories other media outlets are following. And they call us sheep?

Besides this ‘ring around the rosie’ nose-to-tail circle of the media, Mr. Romano says they all have ADD. The story never gained the national media’s attention because the so-called “narrative” wasn’t strong. As he puts it:

The Nashville narrative wasn’t compelling enough to break the cycle, so the MSM just continued to blather on about BP and Shahzad.

He takes his confreres to task for the consequences of their being AWOL on this story:

Media silence means public ignorance, and public ignorance means fewer charitable donations, slower aid, and less political pressure. If that’s not reason enough to cover the flood–to do our jobs–I don’t know what is.

However, I’ll posit a third reason, one which many conservatives will already have figured out: Nashville lost much in this disaster, but it didn’t complain, it didn’t demand that the government do something, and it refused to be saddled with a victim narrative. Instead, the city and state focused on disaster relief for those most immediately affected, and then clean up as the flood waters receded. People banded together to bury the dead. Now, as the waters have receded, they begin the long, slow, mucky project of restoration and repair of the things that could be saved.

Not only that, but as many Southerners have said before me, when it’s a southern town, there is less notice by the MSM because they’re mostly located in New York City and Los Angeles. Those places simply don’t pay attention to the south and it’s always been that way.

Noel Sheppard of Newbusters sent around an email last night about the reality of the situation. Until then, I hadn’t seen any details about Nashville:

A great American city is currently buried under a sea of water, but you may not know much about it given all the attention media have given to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the failed car bomb attempt in New York’s Times Square.

The rain totals are almost unimaginable as is the flooding.

Damage estimates at this point have already surpassed a billion dollars, and are likely to go higher.

Mr. Sheppard has a video at that link, and a listing of places where you can help. Besides the Tennessee Red Cross, his post has an unusual variety of aid, the kinds of private or ad hoc efforts that usually get lost in the larger professional aid programs. [Scroll down past the video].

Michelle Malkin serves an important function in the blogosphere. She is a megaphone for the important stories the MSM ignores. As such, she becomes a clearing house for aid in these kinds of disasters. At her post, “Nashville: How to Help” Ms. Malkin has assembled a varied list of more than a dozen initiatives to date. In addition she will update as new sources of aid and self-help come in.

An excellent local source for news and aid is Nashvillest. This site could serve as a model for other areas when they are hit with a natural disaster. They have a FAQ page for people who want to help and for those who need help. On the main page about the flood, they’ve marshaled their forces into smart categories of giving:

  • “I Have Money”
  • “I Have Stuff”
  • “I Have Time”
  • “The Internet”

This is an outstanding source for both local and national aid to Nashville. Up front they point out what is necessary in order to get help from the federal bureaucracy:

All Metro Nashville official relief efforts will run through Hands On Nashville. Go HERE to sign up to be notified when volunteer opportunities are approved by the city, and follow them @HONashville for minute-by-minute updates. All relief efforts must go through Hands On Nashville to receive FEMA aid. [links can be found on the home page – D]

But what is channelled through Hands On Nashville doesn’t even begin to cover the amazing breadth and depth of the things people are doing for themselves. And please notice which dogs didn’t bark to alert the MSM: no looting, no one crying victim, no sensationalism, no professional grievance ministers (like Al Sharpton in Arizona) to rev up the usual meme of what the government did wrong and how black people or Latinos were harmed.

If you’ve ever been involved in the clean-up following a flood, you know that it goes on for months afterward as the muck is cleared, the wrecked homes are leveled, and the hardest fight begins and continues: mold eradication. This will be a gargantuan, slimy process. Things will never return to the status quo ante; people will recover what they can and begin again. Families who lost their kin in the flood will find it most difficult to ‘move on’.

When the history of this disaster is written, it will be noted how Nashville took care of its own and did so with dispatch. That’s why it’s important for ignominous silence of the MSM to be duly noted by others.

They call Tennessee “The Volunteer State”. Now you know why.

5 thoughts on “Why Tennessee is "The Volunteer State"

  1. Thanks for your comments. Writing from Middle Tennessee, it has been inspiring to see communities pull together.

    Of course, for the MSM types, this is not news. They need New Orleans type crises, to prove just how helpless the ‘little people’ are.

    I’ve tried to journal events from last Saturday, just to create some bit of a public record. Many, many visitors from around the world,which is gratifying.

    Thanks again.


  2. I remember a young P.J. O’Rourke years ago writing about his sweet and not too bright girlfriend talking to some ‘homeless advocate’. She said yes, its terrible she saw all those people in Charleston after Hurricane Hugo with nothing left… the guy looked at her like she was an idiot. “THOSE aren’t homeless people…those are just some people who lost their homes.”

  3. NPR: National Phillstine Radio.

    They have done the same thing
    here in our home state whne we
    had large natural disaster events.

    But let one mussie or fake
    palestinian get hurt or killed
    and NPR and MSM are on it like
    flies on s–t. The coverage out
    here on Nashville has been pretty
    good. Especially if you know where
    to go for REAL news.

  4. PatriotUSA–

    National Public Radio is such an easy leftist target. During my older son’s college years he used to crack us up with the names he gave shows:

    Weekend Edition was “Weakened Sedition”

    “All Things Considered” was “All the Things We Care to Consider”…

    I’ve forgotten the rest.

    It’s a great gift when you discover your offspring are really, truly witty. Equally wonderful is that they’re not liberals, though we don’t agree on everything (and I prefer it that way).

    You should have seen their coverage of the deeply insane kid from California who met this young woman in a small town in Virginia via Facebook. Having gotten her name and address, he flew in, rented a car and drove to the town and then brutally murdered her and her family. They caught him at the airport as he was waiting to return to California.

    The commenters on that story were almost as demented as the perp. They started in on Virginia, the south, religion, and guns. Even though the murderer was a Californian, didn’t use a gun (iirc), and was some kind of vampire/satantic cult zero.

    IOW, reality sucks. Go for the stereotypes.

  5. Old south..

    Don’t be shy. Leave a link, especially when it’s as on topic as your blog is right now:

    Old South

    Here’s a quote from one of his updates:

    The good news in all this is that all the moving parts of the State of Tennessee, City of Nashville, County Sherriffs, EMS, National Guard, Red Cross, etc. seem to be working smoothly. No panic, no Katrina-style scenes, no outbreaks of criminal activity. Volunteers are showing up with food at the shelters, launching their fishing boats to aid their neighbors. Churches have opened their doors, and friends and families are checking up on one another.

    Local TV has done a good job, not whipping up hysteria, and not sticking mics in the faces of devastated survivors and asking them ‘How does it feel?’

    Now that I think about it, TN was lucky to have averted an MSM disaster. Those big city umm… “journalists” would’ve just taken up room and water and food, resources that the locals need.

    Anyway, OS starts at May 2nd with his journal entries on The Great Middle Tennessee Flood…

    as he says, “moh’, latuh”… and we get just that with things like this review on socialism by Revel, from the Acton Institute:

    Last Exit to Utopia

    Meanwhile a little background for us outlanders, from his May 2nd report:

    Word may be making the rounds outside of the area by now.[Fat chance — D]

    Middle Tennessee has been hit with well over a foot of rain since the morning of May 2. The area is overwhelmed, as the ground was already saturated from rains a week earlier.

    This part of the world has been the subject of constant and expert flood control and drainage engineering since the 1930’s, resulting in a sophisticated system of dams, locks, hydro, river channels, levee, drainage ditches, storm sewers, etc. Nothing could have been engineered to withstand what has occurred here.

    Check out his blog, and follow the days as he winds through a week of water shortaages, etc.

    It’s entertaining and instructive not only because of his reports on the Flod but because he keeps his eye on the outside world, too. Greece, the British elections, etc.

    A good perspective. And anyone who reads Action Institute has my vote.

    Hey, OS, what do you do with your old books?

    Jes’ askin’….;-}

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