As a journalist, you can often find out more from looking into someone’s eyes than listening to the words out of their mouths.
It might sound corny, but on Tuesday night in Flint, Michigan, where I hosted a town hall discussion for The Young Turks, I learned of the utter disaster that never stopped being a disaster by simply looking into the eyes of fallen Americans.
These were citizens injured on the battlefields of war—only they never signed up for the army or traveled abroad. Instead, they were mere victims of the ongoing war on the poor, waged by a corrupt government innately more interested in making money and staying in power than making the right decisions for its citizens.
“These $20 filters don’t work,” Flint resident, Adam Murphy, said. Murphy, a 37-year-old father of five, has been poisoned to the point of having severe neurological problems that cause him seizures. His child was also born with high lead levels.
“I have to get on some expensive medications that Medicaid doesn’t cover,” he said, adding that the government is lying to citizens in telling them it’s safe to drink the Flint water with a filter.
“Just like the lies they say these pure filters, these $20 dollar filters, don’t work, they weren’t rated to filter this stuff right here,” he continued, pointing to his documentation of lab work showing all the toxins and chemicals found in his blood work from the toxic Flint water.
Murphy exposed what the EPA, state of Michigan, and city of officials don’t want to discuss.
“I’m not worried about lead–I’m worried about chloroform, I’m worried about acetone, I’m worried about all these other chemicals they don’t want to talk about, they’re too afraid, they’re in denial, not in America, not in America.”
He went on to point out New York City’s recent water problems—and how the city is swiftly changing pipes and responding to citizens.
“They’re testing for things that the EPA isn’t even requiring them to test for; how come they’re not doing it here? Why, because we’re poor or uneducated?” Murphy concluded.
As this man feebly stood up (his opening remarks noted how weak he is), I couldn’t help but think of the shame of it all: how I was in a room filled of poisoned Americans who are STILL SICK in REAL-TIME, but who, instead of receiving ongoing medical and financial assistance from their state and country, are receiving notices of their water being shutoff for unpaid toxic water bills, and in many cases, officials telling them the water is now fine.
But these fine folks’ ongoing CRISIS is not the lead story on newscasts across America. Democrats nor Republicans send out press releases about Flint, nor, gasp!, come down to lend their voices of support or help.
Nope, when I went back to my hotel, I glanced at television news and the web, only to find the latest in the “as the Putin turns” melodrama the corporate media has concocted for ratings.
It’s why the residents who came to the town hall were so grateful that I did it in the first place—not because they adore me—but because they feel they jumped off the Titanic in time to tread water, but the rescue boats simply decided they were too busy to come out and save them.
And they’re right.
In reality, for corporate media, and the politicians they’re in bed with, it’s not SEXY to lead the show without drama, or scandal, or speculation that hints at possible drama.
Only they’re dead wrong.
Because in America, it IS scandalous when government poisons its citizens—whether gross negligence or criminal corruption is behind it.
It’s even more scandalous when, three years after the poisoning, tens of thousands of toxic pipes remain unchanged; citizens claw with their fingernails to get medical bills covered; residents find new fungus and toxins spreading through their now-valueless homes; and the Governor at the helm of it all remains in power—handing out tax cuts and corporate welfare for the rich.
The biggest outrage of all? The elites in the media and Washington, D.C. don’t care.
Why? Well, as my mama always told me, actions speak louder than words.
When’s the last time you’ve seen media or politicians camped out in Flint, Michigan, tossing out help or raising hell rather than serving up a platter of platitudes?
I know I’ll be back again—and again—and again.
Because for all the talk of the media not “normalizing” President Trump, maybe it’s time to stop normalizing the poisoning and devaluing of human life in America.
And make no mistake about it, the time is now: where you live could easily be the next Flint.
If you want to make your voice heard about this miscarriage of justice, here are some numbers to call:
Governor Rick Snyder: 517-335-7858
Attorney General: (202) 727-3400
Flint Mayor: 810-766-7346
EPA: 800-426-4791; 800-962-6215
EPA Region 5: (312) 353-2000
Michigan Attorney General: (517) 373-1113
Michigan Department Of Environmental Quality: 800-292-4706, 800-662-9278