Bridge collapse brings blame

Jackie Valley

The Minneapolis bridge had barely gone down before the inevitable blame game began.

In a tragedy that could have been far greater – so far, five deaths have been confirmed – the obvious question is, “How did this happen?” Yet sadly, the question that seems to be on the forefront of most minds is, “Who let this happen?”

First, the blame landed on a Minnesota inspector who signed off on the bridge’s safety multiple years in a row. But Kurt Fhurman, the inspector, had another idea: He told the New York Daily News to “go after the designer” of the bridge, not himself.

Before long, the blame shifted to – brace yourself – Congress.

Sen. John McCain claimed Congress funneled billions of dollars into pet projects when it approved a new highway bill in 2005, rather than spending money to prevent these types of disasters.

It all seems so clich‚: the news media and politicians using an unfortunate and unpredictable tragedy to sway public opinion for political gain.

Bush and company made Saddam Hussein the scapegoat of Sept. 11. Hussein? Hanged. Iraq? War-torn and consequently unstable, to put it mildly. Terrorism? Alive and well.

And those are solely the byproducts of accusations flung in the past six years. Take a few more steps back in history and you’ll find what were arguably the worst effects of scapegoat-ism: the World War II era. After his rise to power in Germany, Hitler blamed Jews for the country’s hardships, leading to the Holocaust. The effect? More than six million Jews were killed in the genocide.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not insinuating that the accusations being tossed around in Minnesota are going to lead to mass genocide, nor do I think I will systematically eliminate unnecessary blame off the face of this planet by simply writing this column. Let’s face it: the Blame Game is everywhere, and it also happens on the micro-level.

The professor is blamed after a student receives an undesirable grade in class. The waitress is blamed for an unsavory meal at a restaurant. The doctor is blamed for the death of a patient in the hospital.

Sure, some accusations are legitimate. That’s why doctors pay astronomical malpractice insurance costs, students can file grievances at the university, etcetera, etcetera.

But we are only human, and mistakes happen. Trying to place blame on one person, especially during tragedies like the Minnesota bridge collapse, is akin to attempting to solve the age-old question, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” It’s difficult to imagine and impossible to answer.

Right now, at least five families are mourning the loss of loved ones, and dozens of others are dealing with the aftermath of loved ones’ injuries. All are most likely losing sleep at night. Singling out one person or group of people as the source of an enormous highway bridge collapsing is incredibly unrealistic, not to mention wrong on so many levels.

Put politics aside. Push past company reputations. We are talking about people here – people who should not be subjected to unwarranted guilt.

No one else deserves to lose sleep at night.

Jackie Valley is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].