Even if you choose to ignore the historical propaganda, and use the day as an excuse to get together with friends and family, this whole Thanksgiving bounty thing is kind of hard to take if you live in Flint, Michigan, and your water is still poisoned by lead. While our president was on his grandiloquent farewell tour of the world last week, singing the praises of American democracy, it took a lawsuit and a federal judge to order the government to deliver more bottled water to Flint residents by a December 16th deadline. Democracy apparently doe not involve the president ordering the Army Corps of Engineers into Flint to begin immediate emergency work to replace the corroded water delivery system.
In the true spirit of the hegemonic holiday, government officials are actually appealing this very modest and humane judicial order, saying that it would be just too hard to deliver life-sustaining water door to door. If residents are too old, too sick, too language-deprived, too transportation-deprived, or too intellectually deprived to get themselves to a bottled water distribution center or to install a cheap ineffectual plastic filter on their faucets, then too bad for them. From the Detroit News:
State officials argued the court order would require a “Herculean effort” equivalent to a large-scale military operation and cost the state at least $10.45 million a month, or $125 million annually. For more than a year, Flint’s residents have been advised against drinking their tap water without a filter due to dangerously high lead levels.
In a 37-page opinion, Lawson ordered home delivery of four cases of water per resident each week unless state and city officials can verify each resident has a properly installed and maintained faucet water filter.America's forced colonization and re-colonization by deregulated puritanical plunderers high on crack capitalism continues unabated. Thanks to the 2008 financial collapse that they orchestrated, grim reapers in suits are seizing distressed property for a song and then
The delivery order “increases the scope of the state’s emergency response to an unnecessary and insurmountable degree, particularly in light of the injunction’s time constraints,” attorneys wrote.
Water is only free when it is blasted out of a military cannon at the indigenous Americans and environmentalists currently protesting an oil pipeline in sub-freezing North Dakota.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, law enforcers acting in the service of a few greedy oil company millionaires have escalated their attacks on unarmed citizens attempting to block construction of the polluting project. Police injured another 160 people over the weekend with the surplus military grade weaponry provided to them by the Obama administration. They used rubber bullets, percussion grenades, and tear gas, as well as highly pressured water which freezes skin upon contact. One woman was so seriously hurt that she might lose an arm. The Guardian reported:
Sophia Wilansky, an environmental activist from New York, was hospitalized in Minneapolis where surgeons are attempting to repair a severe injury to her left arm that destroyed arteries, nerves, muscle, soft tissue and bone, according to her father. She remains at risk of amputation, and if the arm is salvaged, it will probably have very limited functionality.( Whether it's in Michigan or in North Dakota, or wherever powerful sadists roam free and unaccountable, have you noticed how the technique of victim-blaming is always at the top of their list of talking points?)
Wayne Wilansky, her father, contends that the injury was caused by an exploding concussion grenade thrown by law enforcement, who also deployed teargas, rubber bullets and a water cannon on protesters during a tense standoff on a bridge Sunday night.
But North Dakota law enforcement officers have aggressively countered Wilansky’s account, releasing multiple statements accusing protesters of setting off an explosion.
The nearly completed pipeline is meant to transport crude oil across the ancestral lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, and residents fear that the project will contaminate their drinking water. They're trying, to no avail thus far, to get the Obama administration to deny the Dakota Access company permits to extend the pipeline across the Missouri River.
In a powerful editorial published today, the New York Times noted that this kind of cruel oppression against indigenous Americans has been going on for centuries. And corporate police state and media efforts to portray the protesters in a bad light is having the exact opposite effect:
Obama, meanwhile, cluckily pardoned one last Thanksgiving turkey as he basked in his twilight glow of record high public approval ratings. Cynically ignoring Flint and Standing Rock and the most extreme wealth inequality in modern history, he employed the slimy political tactic of red herring-with-wattles:The department’s video was meant to portray the protesters as dangerous troublemakers, but the photos and videos in news reports suggest a more familiar story — an imbalance of power, where law enforcement fiercely defends property rights against protesters’ claims of environmental protection and the rights of indigenous people. American Indians have seen this sort of drama unfold for centuries — native demands meeting brute force against a backdrop of folly — in this case, the pursuit of fossil fuels at a time of sagging oil demand and global climatic peril.The Army Corps of Engineers has called for more study and input from the tribe before it decides on whether to grant a permit. The pipeline company has asked a federal judge to give it the right to proceed with its plan to lay pipe under the river. There is no firm timeline for either decision.
Tomorrow is one of the best days of the year to be an American. It’s a day to count our blessings, spend time with the ones we love, and enjoy some good food and some great company. But it’s also one of the worst days of the year to be a turkey. They don’t have it so good.It could always be worse, proles. Put yourselves in the place of a Butterball, and you'll swear that your Flint drinking water is champagne, and that police blasts from a water cannon are a spa treatment.
Before long, Obama will passive-aggressively hand off the ultimate decisions on Standing Rock and Flint to his successor. Donald Trump, you might remember, wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. The new president is as unabashedly all-American as they come. Oh, and he just happens to have some of his own plundered money invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline, whose owners also conveniently donated to his campaign.
Terrorism as the profiteers' weapon of choice is a grand American tradition that started the minute Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas in 1492. Glorious greed is the whole basis of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. It's as bald and ugly as an obese plucked turkey.
From Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States":
When the Pilgrims came to New England they too were coming not to vacant land but to territory inhabited by tribes of Indians. The governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, created the excuse to take Indian land by declaring the area legally a "vacuum." The Indians, he said, had not "subdued" the land, and therefore had only a "natural" right to it, but not a "civil right." A "natural right" did not have legal standing.
The Puritans also appealed to the Bible, Psalms 2:8: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." And to justify their use of force to take the land, they cited Romans 13:2: "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation."
The Puritans lived in uneasy truce with the Pequot Indians, who occupied what is now southern Connecticut and Rhode Island. But they wanted them out of the way; they wanted their land. And they seemed to want also to establish their rule firmly over Connecticut settlers in that area. The murder of a white trader, Indian-kidnaper, and troublemaker became an excuse to make war on the Pequots in 1636.
A punitive expedition left Boston to attack the Narraganset Indians on Block Island, who were lumped with the Pequots. As Governor Winthrop wrote: "They had commission to put to death the men of Block Island, but to spare the women and children, and to bring them away, and to take possession of the island; and from thence to go to the Pequods to demand the murderers of Captain Stone and other English, and one thousand fathom of wampum for damages, etc. and some of their children as hostages, which if they should refuse, they were to obtain it by force."
The English landed and killed some Indians, but the rest hid in the thick forests of the island and the English went from one deserted village to the next, destroying crops. Then they sailed back to the mainland and raided Pequot villages along the coast, destroying crops again. One of the officers of that expedition, in his account, gives some insight into the Pequots they encountered: "The Indians spying of us came running in multitudes along the water side, crying, What cheer, Englishmen, what cheer, what do you come for? They not thinking we intended war, went on cheerfully... -"And so it went. Pequot crops were slashed and burned, Pequot people died of European diseases if they didn't starve first, and their homes were razed to the ground, just like in blighted urban areas and foreclosed Rust Belt towns in the re-colonized States of the Homeland. The original assault against the native population was so intense and so thorough that in the end, perhaps a couple dozen inhabitants out of an original population of many thousands remained in any given locale.
So let's contemplate how it felt, and how it still does feel for so many of us, to actually be on the receiving end of the imperialism that made this country so special.
But since I'm such a sucker for alternative history:
Wednesday (playing "Pocahontas")): Wait!
Amanda: (a modern lady-who-lunches in the audience) What?
Wednesday: We cannot break bread with you.
Amanda: (playing Sarah, a pilgrim lady-who-lunches) Huh? Becky, what's going on?
Becky: [whispered] Wednesday!
Wednesday: You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, you will play golf, and enjoy hot hors d'oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, "Do not trust the Pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller."
Amanda: Gary, she's changing the words.
Wednesday: And for all these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.
Here's wishing all my readers a very peaceful holiday weekend and a heartfelt thank you for your continuing interest and support.