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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Terrorism has different faces - Oregon and Michigan

With the world paralyzed about the fear of international terrorism, like the Islamic State or the Taliban, two parallel situations are occurring within the US. In Harney County, Oregon a group of radical libertarians are holding the US government hostage, because they happen to have a point of view about land owner's rights, even though the "land" they're disputing isn't owned by any of the protesters. In Flint, Michigan, the state government polluted an entire city population by allowing lead tainted water to be used by the citizens after it was determined that a new river-water transport system hadn't been corrosion protected.  In both situations, our own citizens caused danger to the public. Yet, because the people who perpetrated the domestic dangers are embroiled in politics, the issues are more complicated than they, otherwise, should be. In other words, if terrorists like radical "Islamic State" occupiers had taken over the Oregon public lands to protest against the US government, the situation would be an international incident. Likewise, if a terrorist group had poured lead into public drinking water, the entire nation would be revolting and heads would roll.

Nevertheless, because the Oregon "occupiers" were right wing extremists, who take pride in defying the US government, they're given the benefit of extraordinary patience. To do otherwise, for example, to create another "Waco Texas siege" nightmare, has the devastating risk of creating boomerang situations, like what happened in Oklahoma City with Timothy McVeigh. Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, was another horrifying experience where right wing libertarians created inflated paranoia about government and, as a result, caused domestic carnage. If the perpetrators of these crimes were right wing "Islamic State" fighters or the Taliban, the public urgency to rid ourselves of them as soon as possible would be overwhelming. Instead, these weirdos have domestic sympathizers.

Now, CNN reports, at least 7 of the right wing Oregon "occupiers" were arrested and one killed, in a police traffic stop. This situation is, frankly, likely to create more weird sympathy for the criminal acts caused by these people, than public relief that they've been stopped.
Flint Water
Flint Michigan residents continue to receive water bills to pay for lead polluted water. It seems like the least Governor Snyder could do would be to call for a moratorium on sending water bills.
Similarly, in Flint, Michigan, the water contamination was the result of cost cutting by the municipal officials who decided to change the city's public water source without taking precautions against lead poisoning.  As a result, citizens of Flint have been exposed to lead in their drinking water for about two years, while the state "investigated" the matter. Now, irreversible health damage has been done to all the children who have high blood levels.  While cutting costs to save money on water transport, the state of Michigan is now strapped with many years of lawsuits and the overwhelming cost of trying to figure out how to fix the problem created by "cutting costs" in the first place.

If a Democratic governor were in charge of Michigan, the Republicans would be screeching about the water contamination issue, using it as an example of "government is the problem, not the solution" argument. Instead, Governor Rick Snyder is a Republican, who is a darling in the future of the "Grand Old Party- GOP". Therefore, the outcry against his leadership is muted byhis apologies. Of course, his apology is two years too late and the "fix" hasn't even begun.  In fact, Michigan plumbers and contractors are waiting for call to begin to fix the Flint water, but they're like proverbial "Maytag repairmen"- waiting with no call.

In fact, Michigan's government isn't doing anything substantial to fix Flint's "lead pollution", except to support bottled water distribution programs and advise people not to use the lead infected water. It's even been reported that the federal money sent to Michigan to help with the problem may not be applied to the fix. Even worse, Flint residents are still sent water bills! 

Meanwhile, more children are at risk for being exposed to the damaging effect of the lead. As one mother said during a television report, "Governor Snyder's children are not exposed to this water so why are we having to deal with this?" Complicating the already emotional and public health problems are the socio-economic situations in Flint. Yes, the people who live there middle class and many are African-American. As a result, Michigan's governor is being accused of environmental discrimination by allowing the lead problem to go on for so long when the problem would've probably never happened in an affluent community. Nevertheless, if an international terrorist group had infected a city's water supply with contaminants, the public outcry would be overwhelming and many political heads would roll. Instead, Governor Snyder is still in office, defending his situation while doing next to nothing to resolve the problem.  

In the absence of any action, the Detroit News reports that the United Nations "Committee for Social Development" has even taken the extraordinary step of investigating the Flint Michigan water health danger. Of course, Americans would expect to feel international outrage, if the Flint water problem were caused by radical terrorism!

So, Americans continue to become victims of right wing extremism. Land rights libertarian groups are terrorists who believe they know more than the government and they're ready to die to prove their points. Furthermore, Republicans have been reticent about criticizing Governor Snyder, even though, unquestionably, they'd be livid, on right wing FoxNews, screeching, if he were a Democrat rather than a political "conservative darling".

In fact, Republicans and their right wing extremists who "wag the party", are hypocrites. They don't seem to care about the common good so long as they're getting attention. Although Governor Snyder apologized for the Flint water contamination, he's done nothing to offer reparations or to fix it....a shallow apology.  

As an American, I demand accountability from Republicans. They must hold their own party to the same standards as they expect from Democrats. Our nation was built on lofty concepts for creating a new world order, but Republicans are dismantling many progressive achievements, not the least of which is political integrity.

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