(Truthdig) — Within hours of this week’s tornado disaster in Oklahoma, I (like many others) received emails from the President of the United States and my U.S. Senator. With impassioned language, they both claimed to care deeply about yet another community devastated by a cataclysm, and then said the best way for America to respond is to support private charities.

The work of non-governmental organizations, no doubt, is critical, and contributing money to them is laudable. But there is something troubling about government leaders initially implying—if subtly—that a non-governmental response is as significant as a governmental one. And there is something even more disturbing about that message being sent at a time when budget cuts and sequestrations engineered by those very governmental leaders threaten to prevent a more effective response to such disasters in the future.

It all suggests that the anti-government zeitgeist in America has become so powerful that public officials now feel compelled to downplay the public sector for fear of being tarred and feathered as a socialist, a Marxist or an opportunist unduly “politicizing” a tragedy.

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