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Ash writes: "Watched your broadcast from the Factory Two community empowerment center in Flint, Michigan, the other evening with a mixture of fascination and apprehension."

A quote and a central message in the French docudrama, Un village français. (image: Un village français)
A quote and a central message in the French docudrama, Un village français. (image: Un village français)

Dear Michael Moore, Chris Hayes and Residents of Flint

By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News

14 September 18


atched your broadcast from the Factory Two community empowerment center in Flint, Michigan, the other evening with a mixture of fascination and apprehension. Particularly the segment featuring the four residents who either did not vote for a president on Election Day 2016 or did not vote at all.

Should we view these people as specimens to be studied scientifically, victims for whom we should have empathy and solidarity, or citizens who, in abdicating their right to choose who the next president would be, opened the door through their indifference to fascism in the White House? Or perhaps all three?

As a matter of political science, we need to understand what happened in Flint during the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election. What the citizens of Flint said was, “We were abandoned and literally left to die by the country and the Democratic party.” Presumably they held the Democrats more to blame than the Republicans because Flint is traditionally a Democratic stronghold, and so they expected more, perhaps.

A badly polluted Flint River and rotting water pipes poisoned the water of Flint residents. People died. Children’s health will be, in some cases, affected for the remainder of their lives. The problem occurred because of neglect. The problem grew worse because of continued neglect. More people were harmed. Public officials whose responsibility it was to address the problems and ensure safe, potable water have been found criminally culpable, as well they should have been. If it can happen in Flint, it can happen anywhere. Americans who do not stand in solidarity with Flint are whistling past their graveyard. We heard you then and we hear you now. However, unsurprisingly, the problems are bigger than Flint.

If you look beyond Flint, you can see the consequences of your inaction. Norman Solomon recently interviewed scriptwriter Frédéric Krivine, who was a driving force behind the French docudrama Un village français (A French Village). The story revolves around the Nazi occupation of France from 1940 to 1944 and more importantly on its effects on the French people, the German occupiers, and the choices all were forced to make. A central premise of the work’s narrative is “To live is to choose.” You chose not to choose.

The consequences of your inaction and those like you in towns across America, and there were many, now affect us in ways too profound and long-lasting to be fully understood in the moment. What began as a simple electoral protest has now become an opportunity for a campaign of fascist criminal conduct imbued with the vast powers of the American presidency. Try if you can to understand the pain and suffering of the men, women, and children interred in the Trump regime’s punishment camps near the US-Mexican government border. These are full Nazi tactics being unleashed on human beings on American soil in the year 2018.

Puerto Rico is ostensibly a US territory and its people US citizens. In the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Maria, they have been left to die. The federal resources Donald Trump controls, resources that could have saved thousands of Puerto Ricans, were not brought to bear. What would Hillary Clinton have done? The list of harm being done to the lives and wellbeing of innocent people by Trump and those who do his bidding goes on and on.

So it was interesting to meet the people of Flint, to listen to your story, and try to feel your pain. While it’s good to see work on your water infrastructure underway, it’s important to remember that a failure to act when given the chance can have long-lasting consequences.

A chance comes again on November 6th of this year. To live is to choose. We are there now.

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-12 # mashiguo 2018-09-14 10:05
We can't know what Hillary would have done.

We do know what Obama did: He deported more people than any president in history. He blew an 18 trillion dollar hole in the economy in order to bail out fraudulent bankers, meanwhile leaving the residents of Flint to rot in their own sewer system. He did go to Flint and drink a glass of bottled water...

Who would have thought black could be so transparently thin and empty? We truly have received a post-racial era in this regard: the biggest crooks don't care about their colleague's race, and none of them care about ours.

How delusional does one have to be not to see the absolute levels of loathing and contempt people feel for the political establishment at this point in time?

Trump is not the problem. Trump is the symptom. The blindness of Trump Derangement Syndrome is a large part of the problem that will lead to worse, far worse. It won't be long before Trump is idolized as much as St. Reagan or the wonderful half-wit disciple of Reagan's senility: W himself. Trump will fill out the trinity of "remember when" when we get to the likes of President Haley, or Bolton, or worse.

Don't whine, organize.
-18 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-14 11:21
mash - -you mean $18 trillion. Sometimes the number ranges upwards of $25 trillion. No one really knows for sure. It was called "quantitative easing." Obama sure a hell did not given any kind of "easing" to normal americans. He knifed them in the back. I'm on Obamacare and I've been dicked over by it for 5 years. I could use some "quantitative easing."
0 # mashiguo 2018-09-14 11:52
maxima mea culpa.
corrected, thank you.
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-14 18:27
All the negative thumbs are because we cast aspersions on St. Barak. It is just sad that so few people are willing to break through the myth that Obama created to shroud himself in. They should read Francis Boyle's new essay --

"I am Francis Boyle, Professor of Law. . . . I’m the Senior Professor . . . I’ve taught here 41 years in a row without a break. I know Obama. He [Obama] was behind me at Harvard Law School. Obama abandoned and betrayed every Principle about the Rule of Law that I learned at Harvard Law School including the United States Constitution. . . .

The University of Illinois is giving him an “ethics in government” award. This is a sick joke and a demented fraud! The University of Illinois, for its own typical bootlicking reasons, wants to whitewash all of Obama’s international crimes. Obama should be sitting in a jail cell in The Hague with the International Criminal Court and not here getting some bogus “ethics in government" award.
0 # economagic 2018-09-15 11:18
Very interesting. A comment to that same effect that I submitted last night was censored. I will post it again shortly.
0 # economagic 2018-09-15 17:42
My apology to Marc: My remark to that same effect was in a reply to Benign Observer well down the page. As of this moment my comment to the contrary has not been posted.
-2 # Mary Ellen 2018-09-14 10:53
This is a shameful sermon, Mr. Ash. The Flint water issue goes way back before the 2016 election. The people of Flint have every reason to assume that it matters very little whether or not they vote or for whom. Obama was a major dissapointment (see Mashiguo message above). Clinton as Sec of State for Obama famously oversaw the murder of a chief of state who had NOT been tried by a jury of his peers, allegedly one of the US's basic principles, and who chortled about his assassination ("We came, we saw, he died" giggle, giggle). She and her hubbie put the nail in the coffin of the working people's Democratic party. She answers to the same interests the pre-Trump Repubs answer to. And you have the nerve to lecture in the most condescending of terms of the people of Flint who think that voting is a waste of their time? Damn.......
+27 # Observer 47 2018-09-14 11:53
In the 2004 Presidential election here in Ohio, I saw a solid lead for John Kerry morph into a win for the shrub. Those of us who were paying attention watched while Ken Blackwell, assisted by Diebold, stole the votes and flipped them for the GOP. We protested, before and after the election. We wrote letters. We made phone calls. We went to rallies. We voted. And none of it made one bit of difference. The people with the power manipulated the election for their own gain. So it will be as long as the people with money are in charge. EVERY election can be manipulated, folks, given our current system. Easy to see why Flint residents, or anyone else, would consider voting a moot issue.
-1 # JCM 2018-09-15 19:13
Observer 47: See, Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program.
+11 # mblockhart 2018-09-14 12:15
As I listened to the program one thing stood out among those who claimed "they would not vote for the lesser of two evils" and thus did not vote for Hillary Clinton (Some even had the gall to claim they had no regrets.) Where did they learn this propaganda? Ralph Nader and the Green Party. It was further repeated and reinforced in 2016 by Jill Stein then the Green Party leader, by diehard Sanders supporters and no doubt by the Russian propagandists on social media. Clinton lost Michigan by 10,704 votes while the Green Party's Stein got 51,463. That's how propaganda works.
However, we DO know what Clinton would be doing in Michigan were she President today - exactly what she always does, try to get relief and restoration for the people. Nowhere in the program did I hear mention that she went to Flint to see what she could do to help before she even had begun her presidential campaign. That's how "evil" she is.
Don't let anyone ever claim that propaganda campaigns like those waged by the Russians via Sanders and the Green Party don't "rig" or alter the results of elections. The proof is in the pudding.
+9 # Benign Observer 2018-09-14 13:39
Nader's giving us W has long since been disproved, and Stein got fewer votes than Johnson pulled from the GOP, or people who stayed home, or Democrats who voted for Trump -- yet the ONE group you choose to vilify are those who want the party to be less corrupt? I'd say that's a big part of the problem right there.

Don't let facts interfere with your blaming Nader-Stein-San ders supporters-Russ ians-whatever bogeyman you can conjure, but that kind of thinking guarantees we haven't learned a damn thing and are going to KEEP LOSING.

This is not rocket science. It's politics. The Democrats need to give people something to vote FOR, but they won't do it because all those things people want -- wage increases, affordable healthcare, etc -- interfere with their donors' wishes.

Maybe you should blame the fucking donors or their lap dogs in Congress?

Propaganda may originate with dishonest brokers but it is perpetuated by people who are just plain ignorant.
+29 # NAVYVET 2018-09-14 15:46
Thank you, Benign and Blockhart, unlock your heart! I voted for Clinton because Bernie asked us who were his active supporters to do so, and NO ONE I worked with argued about the common sense of that. I still had to hold my nose. She was a failure as manager of health reform, a do nothing Senator (except for Wall Street), a sinister and dangerous Secy of State. Long ago I admired her, but her own record, her lack of positive achievement, wiped out my respect over the years.

That she would be a better president than Drumpf is like comparing crabapples to shoelaces. Harvey Weinstein--even Frank Nitti--could have been no more unprepared, incompetent, mysogynist, violence-prone, paranoid or crooked in the White House than our Unpresidented Unpresident! Get over destructive nihilism and apathy--and VOTE! Get involved as an activist for a humane social cause if you aren't one already.
+31 # bubbiesue 2018-09-14 12:46
For whatever reason people did not vote for president, they were WRONG. Somebody's going to be in that office and we must never again fail to recognize that. It may be a choice between two evils. One may "like" neither candidate. But we vote and we get what we choose in this country--or we will lose the right to choose. Please understand that. At least make a choice, holding your nose if necessary. And that goes for everyone.

In 1968 I had a discussion with a woman I did not know about the issues of the day. We agreed on everything. except whom to vote for. I chose Humphrey. More people chose Nixon. Life went on, and here we are, struggling with a president unfit to govern because people did not choose. More that 50% of uncommitted voters vote for Democrats. If they vote.

VOTE. Leave no empty spaces on your ballot--whether senator, governor or register of deeds.
+19 # BetaTheta 2018-09-14 14:29
Absolutely, vote, and if necessary vote against an obvious evil. Many of us (myself included) have voted for a candidate with a snowball's chance in hell, just to feel good about ourselves. In times like these, that is a self-indulgent luxury we can ill afford.
-1 # economagic 2018-09-15 11:21
What should I do when faced with two obvious evils, different KINDS of evils so impossible to rank on a numerical scale? This is the absurdity that the LOTE argument promulgates.
-1 # JCM 2018-09-16 08:10
economagic: It is not a question of not voting for the least evil but to vote to keep the worst evil from winning.
+18 # FarMor 2018-09-14 18:14
"We vote and we get what we choose." Hardly. First, the voters are chosen (gerrymandering , cross-check, etc.) and then voting machines can be manipulated. Do you really believe we get what we choose? Then why did we get Trump when Clinton had 3 million more votes? I know, I know, the electoral college. I only ask the question to show the absurdity of your statement.
+3 # margpark 2018-09-14 12:57
Trump derangement disorder is probably there to stay. Got in a discussion with one yesterday. She posted a meme showing Obama's beginning numbers (GNP, unemployment and the like) and Trumps present numbers. I commented that she had used numbers from Obama's first six months and reminded her that we were in a deep depression at that time. She said, if true that means they would have gotten worse by the end of his terms and if Hillary had won they would still be getting worse. Moreover Obama was claiming Trump's triumphs as his own. Like we were still in a deep depression when he took office with massive joblessness etc. I think they are all insane. She lived through those years just as I did.
+3 # economagic 2018-09-14 20:58
Thumbs up for "I think they are all insane."
-7 # Benign Observer 2018-09-14 13:28
Two years in and we're still blaming the victims?

I find it absolutely remarkable to see such vitriol heaped on the voters, who have very little power or control over the system, while NOT ONE WORD in this whole article mentions the godawful campaign Clinton ran, the duplicity of the party in cheating her into the nomination WHEN POLLING FOR A YEAR SHOWED SHE COULD LOSE, consistently bad candidates offered up, blatant corruption, the sabotaging of populists, or the evils incurred by the perverse strategy of LOTE, which should not have survived one iteration much less 30 years.

For decades the party has abandoned workers, families, the poor and middle class. They've lied to us and betrayed us, but when voters rebel THEY are the ones blamed!

We condemn heroes like Ralph Nader and Jill Stein, and the voters who want the party to improve? Truly an ominous sign of things to come.

There's also the matter of GOP (and, now we know, Democratic) cheating at the polls -- which for twenty years no politician, R or D, has tried to fix.

There is A LOT of blame to go around when one looks at the sorry state of our country -- but the LAST people I would blame are the ones who are trying to make things less corrupt.

I find this article shockingly misinformed, arrogant and misdirected. No wonder RSN is struggling. It still pretends to be progressive but what one finds are articles by establishment shills -- and THIS.

Shame! Shame! Shame!!
0 # rivervalley 2018-09-14 15:47
Amen! & Thanks.
+6 # FarMor 2018-09-14 18:17
I echo the Amen and thanks. Well said.
-2 # economagic 2018-09-14 20:57

Someone must have leaked to a lot of yellow dog Democrat friends that this article was coming, as they certainly are here. And yes, it IS "yellow" dog, or was for well over a century until some PR and media hacks decided the color scheme was too complicated for the American voter.

They may have been right. As evidence I submit not one but two defenses above of the fallacious notion that refusal to choose the means of one's execution is tantamount to moral turpitude. Besides the dictum of that great yellow dog Democrat Jim Hightower that "If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," every argument I have seen over the past four years in defense of the claim that NOT voting for any candidate has the same mathematical effect as voting FOR some candidate has been either a symptom of this county's "other deficit" (critical thinking, due to our failure to teach the Liberal Arts in something near their original form), or a non-argument (making no coherent claim).

I knew this morning when I read this article that something in it was not right. When I glanced at it a few minutes ago it was obvious. Marc is a BLUE dog Democrat and espouses the fallacies mentioned above (though not dissected for lack of space). "If everyone would just vote the unicorns would appear." Folks, that is the Soviet election model: Just vote and everything will be OK, or at least better.

As usual I'm saving this comment for re-posting as necessary.
-2 # economagic 2018-09-14 21:11
Yes, but the "establishment shills" to whom you refer are not merely "The Elites" in general, but those same canine Democrats who refuse to acknowledge the connection between voting reliably for the ostensibly lesser evil and the consequences of doing so. That is one major major factor in the decline of unions in the US: When a political entity knows it can take your vote for granted, it no longer needs to give you anything in return.

I left Daily Kos after more than a decade for two reasons: It had become an unabashed shill for a party in decline, and its founder turned it into a commodity to be bought and sold.

And again, I am saving this comment for re-posting as necessary.
+5 # NAVYVET 2018-09-15 18:05
Thanks for your assessment of Daily Kos. I never used it till 2015, but it was far gone even then into the pipedream that Hillary, Biden, etc. could climb out of the Washington DC barrel and actually UNDERSTAHD what's going outside. The Dems have been blindered for decades, and much of it is the old ostrich foolishness of not wanting to see reality.
0 # Observer 47 2018-09-15 18:00
BRAVO!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!
+24 # chapdrum 2018-09-14 15:29
It was amazing (yet not surprising) at how little blowback Don received from tossing paper towels to Puerto Ricans. His "let them eat cake" moment. Most politicians would be advised not to do something so obviously patronizing and condescending, but in the land of Don and Scott Walker and Paul Ryan, ad nauseum, it makes no difference.
-3 # PCPrincess 2018-09-14 15:57
Mr. Ash: Here is a parallel that I believe applies and is a sense of how I feel about the 2016 election:

When an alcoholic is in a stage of the disease that the harm extends to the family and outward, those who attempt to soften the blow to the alcoholic, who may continue to purchase the bottle, or comfort the person after a bender are usually criticized as 'enablers'. It is usually not until an alcoholic hits bottom that they can finally become ready to reach out for help and find healing.

After years of having our voices and issues rebuked, after watching promise after promise broken by Obama after finally having a glimpse of hope, after again having 'hope' and watching as the democrats and the media not only encouraged, but allowed an electoral party to rig a democratic nomination, making it very clear that the democrat voters were not important, it became necessary to stop 'enabling' and let the 'alcoholic' (the democratic party) hit bottom. THAT IS WHY MANY PEOPLE DID NOT want to vote for Hillary. It was time to stop being enablers. We knew it would be tough, getting 'clean' is a bitch. Most of us would be the very ones to suffer the most. Yet, it has to be done.

Let me ask you something: Who thought that we would be able to discuss socialism, the poor, single-payer, even the freaking UBI, unless the people were truly motivated to make their voices heard. (cont. below)
-1 # PCPrincess 2018-09-14 15:59
(cont. from above)
Remember, these ideas were taboo EVEN during the 2016 nominations and elections! NOW we are talking about them and those ideas are winning!

It is hard now. But maybe, this is the dark before the dawn.
+8 # FarMor 2018-09-14 18:23
Great analogy. Exactly my thinking as I voted for Bernie. I did not do so to feel good about myself as a previous poster judged those of us who refused to vote for the lesser of two evils. Incidentally, I have been in recovery for over 30 years and know how delusional the family of the addict (in this case the Dem. voters) can become. They also need healing.
+2 # economagic 2018-09-15 11:29
Amen to both of the above. And once again the up-or-down thumbs are absurdly inconsistent. The common factor seems to be whether a comment includes a negative remark about the Democratic misleadership, especially about Obama.

Saving again to re-post if censored, as one such comment was yesterday.
+3 # lorenbliss 2018-09-14 18:07
Au contraire, Mr. Ash; the atrocity of flint was NOT caused by "neglect."

It was instead deliberately inflicted racist genocide -- an expression of the bottomless, Nazi-breeding hatred that is the dominant core emotion and prime political motivator of the white U.S. majority.

For proof, note how fully 81 percent of the white population continues to deny racism had anything to do with the (genocidal) abandonment of New Orleans.

The fact 58 percent of the white electorate actually (and knowingly) voted the present ChristoNazi regime into office merely confirms the extent to which race hatred remains the white USians' national ethos.

Again Pew:

I'm actually surprised and troubled by your view of Flint, Mr. Ash, which blames Black victims of white ChristoNazi/ Capitalist malevolence for their abandonment of an electoral system that has been reduced to a mechanism of self-betrayal.

The ugly truth is that as long as we continue to deny White USia is every bit as race-hateful as Nazi Germany was, no amount of progressive thinking will salvage this nation from the continent-sized slave-camp to which has been reduced after the coup of 22 November 1963.
+4 # lorenbliss 2018-09-14 22:37
Ah, Mr. Ash...Those who deny the apocalyptic magnitude of USian White Christian hatefulness should also note the fate of Puerto Rico -- now Capitalism's prime homeland target for genocide and ethnic cleansing by abandonment, same as post-Katrina New Orleans was.

Neglect? Not at all; again, Mr. Ash; it's hatred – a hatred so vast and irremediable, not even the adjective "bottomless" makes it adequate to describe its malignancy and duration.

Go eyeball-to-eyeb all against the ChristoNazis when they are attacking -- as I despite my age and disabilities have done several times in the last few years with fellow members of Tacoma Clinic Defense (and as I did c. 1970-1976 as a rural commune defender).

Look into the ChristoNazis' malignant eyes for even an instant; glimpse the cesspools of lethal malevolence therein.

Then perhaps you'll at last begin to understand the unprecedented depth and breadth of the seemingly deathless Evil we the people must permanently defeat lest it reduce our species to extinction and our Mother Earth to a bug planet.

Meanwhile the only reason the ChristoNazis have not killed more of us is they are learning the hard way that -- as it says in the old Civil Rights song -- "we shall not be moved."
+3 # Observer 47 2018-09-15 18:06
"....a mechanism of self-betrayal." Brilliant phrase, and laser-accurate. Also correct about 11/22/63.
+1 # lorenbliss 2018-09-15 21:24
Thank you.
+5 # Benign Observer 2018-09-14 22:51
Trump Derangement. Trump Denial.

It is not fun being stuck in between the two camps of deluded, hysterical, irrational lunatics.

This country has SERIOUS problems but we can't get close to them because two groups of fools insist on perpetuating an idiotic, useless cycle of blame and self-righteousn ess. It's the stuff of vaudeville -- the thieves carrying off the loot while the dimwits argue about which one left the window open.

Are there any truer victims of government corruption and negligence than the poor people of Flint? And here they are -- these victims of greed and politics, and Michael Moore, who is obviously admired here at RSN -- but instead of listening to what they are trying to tell you -- which would be very handy to know so we don't keep making the same mistakes -- instead you decide to heap abuse on them! Now THEY are to blame for Trump? Not the GOP and its 40 year legacy of criminality, not the spineless corrupt Democrats, not the complicit and dishonorable media -- no, it's the fault of the poor poisoned people of Flint M!?

I wish all of you TDSers, two sides of the same coin, would take a deep cleansing breath, step back and see what you've become. It's ugly. And it's frustrating having to depend on you.

Trump is not insane and he knows how to win elections, and the GOP is evil, not stupid. WE HAVE GOT TO UNITE and appeal to voters, and let me tell you, THIS does NOT do THAT..

+3 # Moxa 2018-09-15 08:35
Who has stood up to the Republicans? Not the Democrats. Where was Obama vis a vis Flint, Standing Rock, the 6 extra wars he got us into, Wall Street corruption? What fantasy are you, Mr. Ash, and you thumbs-downers clinging to?

When there is an alternative to corporatism and filthy water, people will catch on. They'll sense it in the new clean air of truth.

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