I guess this one came from experiencing one too many “Flint made its own mess; let them suffer” comments. I mean, I understand the sentiment. Anybody familiar with Flint over the past 40 years knows of the many poor decisions, the wasted resources, the sometimes straight-up corruption. (Is there a better cautionary tale of the bad that can happen when you elect an egotistical, speaks-his-mind, “successful” businessman who promises to make things great again than former mayor Don Williamson?) But even if you ignore the overwhelming forces of de-industrialization and globalization and say that Flint’s problems are entirely self-inflicted, it would still not be in anybody’s long-term interest to consider Flint residents as something less than other people.
In fact, it’s exactly that sort of thinking that created the environment for the water crisis to happen. If you don’t care about the people, it’s much easier to flip that switch; if you don’t care about the people, it’s much easier to ignore the obvious and delay response; if you don’t care about the people, it’s much easier to point fingers and avoid responsibility. In Flint’s case, we ended up with lead poisoning and deaths from Legionnaire’s Disease. Now radicalize that uncaring, and we end up with terrorist attacks and dozens dead in Brussels.
It all starts with devaluing human life, and no good comes from it.