What's More Corrosive Than Flint's Water? The Cynicism of the Powerful
The Flint water crisis exposes like nothing else the toxic cynicism of America's ruling class, writes Jesse Jackson. In their privileged view, the victims of the lead poisoning are disposable 'unpersons' that matter less than General Motors' auto parts. But now they, and their peers in other poisoned communities, are fighting back.
What's More Corrosive Than Flint's Water? The Cynicism of the Powerful
By Jesse Jackson / counterpunch.org
Feb 17, 2016

The basic story of the poisoning of the children of Flint, Michigan, through the water they drink is now pretty well known. But as more details come out, it keeps getting worse.

Republican Governor Rick Snyder, after passing a big tax cut for the rich and corporations on coming into office, had to find cuts to make up for the lost revenue.

In Flint and other cities, he essentially nullified democratic elections, deposed elected mayors and city councils and installed his own agents with virtually dictatorial powers.

The 'emergency manager' of Flint decided that the city could save money by discontinuing its water supply from Lake Huron and instead drawing it from the toxic Flint River. He then failed to treat the new water with additives needed to keep the city's old pipes from leaching lead.

When people objected to the brown, smelly water filled with particles that was coming out of the taps, the governor's men reassured them the water was safe. All of Flint's children were exposed to water with elevated levels of lead.

Now we learn that General Motors complained to state officials that the water was corroding their auto parts. So the governor's team gave GM its own hook up back to the water from Lake Huron - while still insisting to the residents of Flint that the water was safe for their children to drink.

Privileged corporations, disposable people

State officials also acted promptly to respond to the bad water for one other constituency: state employees in Flint's state office building. Even as it was reassuring residents that the water was safe to drink, Flint officials arranged for coolers of purified water to be set up on all the floors of the office building.

Flint's residents - disproportionately black and low income - were seen as disposable. And they are not alone. The national statistics on lead poisoning, as Kevin Drum of Mother Jones details, show that African-Americans were poisoned at three times the rate of whites until recent times.

And, of course, low-income people are poisoned at higher rates than the more affluent; poor, urban African-Americans and Latinos suffer the highest rates of all.

Drum notes that while white children were severely afflicted in the postwar lead epidemic, it produced "nothing less than a carnage among black kids." He argues that before lead was brought under control in the late 1980s, virtually an entire generation of urban black teenagers was at risk of lower IQs, more behavior problems in school, higher rates of violent behavior.

This, of course, reinforced already vicious racial stereotypes of African-Americans, and of the poor. The only hope in Flint is that the children's exposure was limited in time and intensity, but even that is grasping at straws.

And as Flint resident and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore points out, this isn't just a crisis of water. Flint's residents now see the value of their homes wiped out and their hopes for jobs dashed. Few would consider buying a home in Flint now. Few employers will want to set up shop there or expand there. The governor's men have wreaked untold economic damage on the residents of Flint on top of the threat to their health.

Federal government must investigate and indict

The lessons of Flint are plain. Those who scorn government are the wrong people to elect to head it. Government capacity to enforce health and safety, to police environmental poisons and water safety, is essential to the security of our children.

As America gets more and more unequal, the cynical, unstated assumption that there are some who are simply disposable, who don't deserve decent services, is likely to spread.

But Flint may end up showing something else as well. That cynicism is more corrosive than the toxic water coming from the Flint River. People aren't going to put up with it. They aren't going to adjust quietly to the decline of basic services. The Flint calamity was exposed because the poorest residents objected time and again, despite the reassurances issued by authorities.

The failure of the governor's local dictator and of the state officials themselves is now apparent. Yet the reaction to the calamity still seems in slow motion. It is time for the federal government to step in.

Investigations should lead to indictments. Federal resources should be mobilized to rectify the water in Flint immediately, and to provide the city with a real plan for renovation and revival.

 


 

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

Petition: #ArrestGovSnyder.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 15,876 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 6,419 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Obama's Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Stansfield Smith · 1,869 views today · It should be a scandal that leftists-liberals paint Trump as a special threat, a war mongerer – not Obama who is the first president to be at war everyday of his eight years...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,715 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
"Desert Goddess" Remembers Arizona's Glen Canyon
7 min · 482 views today · In this excerpt from the award-winning documentary DamNation, filmmakers Ben Knight and Travis Rummel interview the "desert goddess," Katie Lee. When the Glen Canyon Dam was...
Make The Serengeti Great Again | Resource Scarcity, Demagogues and How Creativity Can Trump Hate (2017)
5 min · 404 views today · A Familiar Tale of Resource Scarcity, Demagogues, and How Creativity Can Trump Hate A quick, original, illustrated allegory that pokes at the demagogues we’ve got with an...
Deconstructing Hierarchies: On Contrived Leadership and Arbitrary Positions of Power
Colin Jenkins · 350 views today · Bosses don't grow on trees. They don't magically appear at your job. They aren't born into their roles. They are created. They are manufactured to fulfill arbitrary positions...
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 346 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 329 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 325 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Baraka (1992)
97 min · 293 views today · Featuring no conventional narrative, this film presents footage of people, places and things from around the world. From chaotic cities to barren wilderness, the movie takes...
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 290 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Introversion Is Not a Personality Fail
Cat Elz · 277 views today · A few years ago, I got into an argument with my now mother-in-law over my supposedly “backwards” ways. My transgression? I did not attend a party of my now husband’s (then...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 272 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
The Political Elite: Idiots... or Criminals?
Michael Emero · 239 views today · I've been seeing a lot of people convinced that the DNC and all establishment Democrats are total idiots. How could they not be, when they sabotaged an easy win (Bernie) to...
HUMAN (2015)
382 min · 239 views today · What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery?  Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist...
Defiance in the Face of Oppression - Iranian Artist Atena Farghadani Defends the Right to Draw
Gavin Aung Than · 229 views today · Atena Farghadani is a 28-year-old Iranian artist. She was recently sentenced to 12 years and 9 months in prison for drawing a cartoon.  
Here's How We're Going to End Factory Farming
2 min · 229 views today · Factory farming is a huge problem. But the solution is simple, if you'll join us. Watch this short 2 minute video to see how... Help make a kinder world possible...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 194 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 190 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
What's More Corrosive Than Flint's Water? The Cynicism of the Powerful