It’s hard to know where to begin in responding to Carl Hiaasen’s latest rant in the Miami Herald White politicos have their own pulpit gasbags, but let me begin by making a few observations:

  • Jeremiah Wright has certainly prospered financially off of his ministry activities, as his US$10,000,000 house will attest.  (And he’s done it without prosperity teaching, I might add.)
  • Anyone who is familiar at all with Christian television knows that it is a multiracial business.  Doesn’t he know, for example, that two of the "Grassley Six" are black?  Jeremiah Wright isn’t on TBN or Daystar for theological, not racial, reasons.
  • The Republicans have managed to pick the least religious candidate in the field, and that field includes the remaining Democrats.  Barack Obama’s relationship with Wright is far closer than McCain’s is with any of the ministers he has been "tied" to, although I will admit that Obama’s relationship with his former pastor is more complicated than has been depicted in the press.  (Probably more complicated than Obama thought too!)

Hiaasen’s position is consistent with the position that most "Miami Herald liberals" have taken for a long time.  But let’s juxtapose that with his other passion of life, namely the overdevelopment of South Florida.

Anyone familiar with his life and work knows that one of Carl Hiaasen’s leitmotifs is his venom against those who have transformed South Florida from a subtropical paradise to an asphalt and concrete jungle.  And, to be honest, that’s one place where I’m in sympathy with him.  Having been raised just up the coast (and around the same time) as Hiaasen, it grieves me to see what has happened to the place.  As I noted in The Tree That Grows in Heaven:

Unfortunately the lignum vitae has had a hard history in South Florida with the coming of large populations. It is an endangered tree. Its most famous habitat, the Lignumvitae Key, is protected. Such a state is a reminder that God created a paradise in South Florida, but man has largely ruined it, and not only from an environmental standpoint as well. In addition to the damage to the surroundings, living in South Florida is a sure cure for universalism, reminding one that, if there’s a default option in eternity, it’s not heaven.

One of the things that drove me to write my fiction was to relive, in a virtual and imaginary sense, in a world before this kind of spoilation became the norm.  Hiaasen gets away to the Keys to enjoy what’s left, but for those of us who have left altogether (and thus ceased being part of the problem,) we have to find other ways.  The interesting point, however, is that the "progressives" and the overdevelopment came hand in hand.

The "crackers" who made up the first Anglo settlement of the place came with their desultory ways and their fundementalist religion, both of which have been regular subjects of derision by Miami Herald liberals.  What they didn’t come (with few exceptions) with was the enterprise and the capital to develop the place.  That came from more northern latitudes.  The latter not only separated South Florida from the South; they launched a campaign for "progressive" government, all the while building one development after another.  That’s the way of proactive progress.

Unintended consequences are a hoot, aren’t they, Carl?