A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted May 30th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
As a veteran environment writer, I can confidently say that it is one of the oldest shticks in the playbook of polluters and of the all-to-many politicians out there who are willing to play the stooge for them.
Fly into a community where the water is polluted with dangerous or potentially dangerous levels of chemicals or metals, and take advantage of a photo op with the media to pick up a glass of the local water and take a sip.
“See! I’ll drink it,” they say before flying back to whatever gated community they live in where there are no polluters to poison the water.
Then, just to compound the anger and confusion for the residents left behind, the hucksters selling portable water treatment devices for their homes, warning them that if they don’t fork out hundreds of dollars for one, they might be eaten alive by tumours.
I’ve watch politicians and corporate execs enrage people with this; ‘Look at me. I’m not afraid to drink the water here’ bit going back to the late 1970s when I covered the concerns people in Niagara-on-the-Lake once had about their tap water that was then drawn from the mouth of the Niagara River, downstream from notorious chemical like Love Canal and Hyde Park, leaking to the river and its tributaries along the American shore.
But I never thought I would see U.S. President Barack Obama, who I once thought was beyond that kind of mugging for big polluters mischief, doing it as he did, in the year 2016 in the community of Flint, Michigan, suffering from a horrendous lead contamination crisis.
Yet there he was this early May, picking up a glass of Flint water in front of a phalanx of media cameras as Michigan’s morally bankrupt governor Rick Snyder hoped he would going back days before the president’s arrival, and drinking it.
No wonder so many everyday people in the United States and growing numbers in Canada too, have had it with “establishment politicians.”
I was thinking of writing a few words about this disappointing episode a few weeks back when it happened but got caught up in other disturbing happenings like plans to “offset” significant wetlands for development and regional councillors treating delegations of taxpaying citizens in Niagara like human garbage.
Then late this May, American documentary film-maker Michael Moore, whose hometown happens to be Flint, Michigan, wrote the following words on Facebook I believe are worth leaving you with.
“He drank the Kool Aid a long time ago,” wrote Moore of Obama. “He meant to do well, and at times he did. His election was historic, but he was treated by Congress as 3/5 a president.”
“In the end, instead of revolution or reparations, he dutifully drank the water from Flint, as he had to, to show the people that their government would never betray them, never poison them, that all was well in Americaland. Back in Flint, the people cried and did their best to pull out the knife he had so smoothly placed in their back.”
All the more reason why Michael Moore’s country and the world needs an outsider like Bernie Sanders, and not more of Obama or the Clintons.
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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders