Tag Archives: inequality

Last Night was Fucked.

9 Nov

I was going to write a post about how the work starts tomorrow. About how I will cry today, as I have been on and off since 9pm last night when I first realized this wasn’t going the way it should, but that tomorrow we lift ourselves up and we continue on our never-ending slog forward. That tomorrow we grab ourselves by the pussies and we keep on keeping on as we always have and as we always will. I was going to try and write a post with some modicum of hope buried within the words, something about love and hope and whatever. I hear you guys. And I see you guys. I see you writing that we need to combat this with love and I get that and that’s really nice and inspiring and in so many ways I want to agree with that so hard. But do you know what I think right now? Do you know what I want to say to all the people who voted for Trump?

FUCK YOU.

Seriously. Fuck you. Did I say it loud enough? Do I need to say it again? Because I will. Fuck you. I will say it over and over and over again. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you. And in fact I wish I had a word stronger than fuck that I could hurl at your because honestly? I have no love for you. None.

Over the past few months I, along with most of my friends, have been absolutely appalled by the language that has come from our soon-to-be-President. As a Jewish woman and a sexual assault survivor, I have never felt less safe. The person that I will soon have to call my president, the leader of my country, shares anti-semitic posts and photos and talks about his long history of sexual assault against women. His ex-wife accused him of marital rape. He rages about suing the women who are bringing legitimate claims of sexual assault and misconduct against him. He calls our inner cities war zones, completely disempowering and belittling the people who have made their homes there, raised their families there, for generations. He is a hero of the ultra-right. Do yourself a favor, open up an incognito tab and go poke around some of the darkest corners of Twitter and Reddit. Read what they are saying because those people make up a good portion of who we heard from last night and who we will continue to have to fight against for the years to come. We have empowered the most disgusting version of our country and we have put them in charge of the government. And for those Trump supporters who don’t think their hero is a racist and an ableist and a homophobe and an antisemite and a misogynist? Then they simply don’t know what racism, ableism, homophobia, antisemitism and misogyny are. It means they don’t know who they themselves are, they don’t understand the rhetoric that they will tolerate, the people they will disempower, the fear that they sow.

So you know what? Today I am not going to reach out with love. And I probably won’t do it tomorrow or the next day either. As I said, I have no love for any of those people. The people who looked at their own struggles, and I believe those struggles to be real, and turned and pointed the finger at everyone else. Because we are all struggling. That struggle is far reaching and all-encompassing and we should be working to overcome that struggle together but instead, instead, we are setting ourselves back decades in social and economic policy and don’t even get me started on the environment. They are pointing the finger at women who might lose the right to choose; at Muslims who now fear for their safety more than ever; at the Black community who have had to get through every single day under the weight of deeply institutionalized racism; at Latinos who fear deportation; at the LGBTQ community who won a hard-fought battle for marriage equality and who work, day after day, to get the same respect afforded their neighbors; at Asian people who, inexplicably, get left out of conversations time and again, as if they aren’t here and haven’t been for a very, very long time; at Jewish people. Oh, the Jews. The canary in the fucking mineshaft. When anti-semitism, always bubbling under the surface, comes out unchallenged and unquestioned into mainstream conversation we pretty much know we’re fucked. Anyone who hates always, for some reason, hates the Jews. They just don’t oftentimes have the guts to come right out and say it but we’re there now. We’re here. We’re here and in a matter of weeks Donald Trump is going to be our president.

I hope you’re happy. And fuck you if you are.

So to all my friends who are with me today, who are let down and crying and trying to see the silver lining, maybe there isn’t one. We lost the presidency, the house, the senate and I bet all of a sudden that Supreme Court seat is going to get filled. I bet all of a sudden government is going to start getting shit done. These next few years, especially the first two, are going to be horrible. And I am terrified. But we will persevere. We will get through. The same as we always do. And to my friends living in Trumpland, please stay safe. There are a lot of us who love you, who walk alongside you and who will, if given the chance, protect you. Because there are a lot scarier things to be right now than a Jewish woman.

Oh, and while I’m at it, just real quick, can I stay an extra special, extra loud, extra bombastic FUCK YOU to all the white women, educated and not, who voted for Trump. Great fucking job. I’ll be thinking about you, and I’ll be cursing you, when I, along with many of my friends, get an IUD before we lose our healthcare and potentially our right to choose. You have no idea what you have done but you will, soon enough. We all will.

Okay I am going to stop for the moment but this is not it from me. I am going to be writing a lot more in the coming years. But I will never forget this feeling, this day, and I will never be more disappointed in my home, this country that today I barely recognize, the United States of America.

A Spill in West Virginia Speaks to Inequality

27 Apr

So I read this article in an old issue of The New Yorker the other day (okay, not that old…it was from April 7th of this year but they just arrive so damn fast!) that really struck a chord.  The article was by Evan Osnos and was “Letter from West Virginia, Chemical Valley:  The coal industry, the politicians, and the spill.”  It was all about this chemical spill in West Virginia on Thursday, January 9, 2014 near the Elk River in the city of Charleston.  It was a chemical called MCHM — 4-methylcyclohexane methanol — something that the mining industry uses to wash rock and clay from coal before it is burned for energy.  Apparently, it smelled vaguely of licorice and contaminated the local water source such that people were forced to purchase bottled water or else face the possibility of rashes, headaches, and other unpleasant side effects.  Of course, the long term effects of such a chemical on the human body has never been tested, despite the fact that the drums that hold this material can be found near water sources used by nearby localities for drinking, cooking, and bathing.  Smart, right?

There were a few different quotes in the article that really stuck out to me.  The first was a quote by West Virginia Senate Majority Leader John Unger.  He said,

“Martin Luther King said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  Why should anybody care about what goes on in West Virginia?  Because it’s the canary in the mine shaft.  If you ignore it in West Virginia, it’s coming, it’s going to continue to build, and the issue is:  Should our country have the debate about our rights to the very basic infrastructure that sustains us?  Or should we continue to ignore it?”

It seems like such a simple question, you know?  That we should be able to turn on our faucet and know that what comes out does not have the potential to cause us harm or death.  We should know that our water is free of harsh chemicals and carcinogens and whatever else could be in there.  In the aftermath of the spill, the former Governor (now Senator) Joe Manchin did not do right by the people of West Virginia.  He instead did right by who it seems everyone does right by these days:  business.  Rather than beef up the state Environmental Protection Agency and say enough is enough, we need to hold these companies accountable, he decided that taking the coal industry to task for lax safety processes was just too big a risk for employment in West Virginia, despite the fact that the coal industry employs merely 3% of the state’s workforce.  What Manchin cared about was not the health of the population or their employment opportunities, he cared about his own reelection.  Lobbyists are a bitch, you know?  And here’s the thing.  Not to get preachy but we, as a species and not just as a country, are so obsessed with our own self-preservation and with gaining more power, money and influence that we are completely incapable of seeing the forest through the trees.  Ignoring the canary in the mine shaft, as Unger described it, is as stupid now as it was 100 years ago.  And yet we do it, again and again.

So the question still remains, I suppose.  How dangerous is the MCHM leak?  Well, when asked by Osnos, Dr. Rahul Gupta of the local health department had this to say about the outstanding scientific questions surrounding the safety of the still licorice-flavored water:

“What is the metabolism and excretion of this compound in humans?  Does it accumulate?  Where does it accumulate?  What is the carcinogenic potential?  What is the teratogenic potential?  What does it do to home pipes?  How does it interact, if at all, with other compounds in water, such as chlorine?  Does it form harmful or harmless products?”

The state of West Virginia told the population that the water was “appropriate” to drink without having the scientific community answer all of the pertinent questions.  They decided it was safe and that if people wanted to buy bottled water, they could, but there was really no reason to.  But what about the people who can’t afford to drive for hours to buy pallets of water because it was all sold out in local stores?  What about bathing?  What about children, the elderly, pregnant women?  What about people who no longer feel safe living near Elk River but now, after this spill, are unable to sell their homes?

For Dr. Gupta, this spill seemed like a separation from the ideals that he thought America held, ideals involving equality, safety and expected standards of living.  He said,

“The 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act allows every resident of the United States to have access to safe drinking water.  So how do we say that, for three hundred thousand people in this part of West Virginia, it’s O.K. to have ‘appropriate’ water?  Do we understand the path we’re taking here, by defining two different classes of water, for two different classes of people?  Do we really want to go down that path?  In the history of this nation, it doesn’t end well when we go down this path.”

Sadly, I would say we have already gone a ways down that path.  The question I have is whether it is too late for us to turn back.