Sunday, April 21, 2013

14 to 3

Trey Smith

Over the past two days, I have done what I always do each morning: scan the headlines. What I have found is a plethora of articles, reports and commentaries on the Boston Marathon bombings, but almost no mention of the massive explosion in West, Texas. It basically has been forgotten by the national media in little more than 2 days time. For the record, both tragedies injured around 200 people. In Boston, 3 died. In West, the count was almost 5 times higher -- 14. So, why does Boston garner all the headlines?

As Russell Mokhiber points out, it's not just the media either. President Obama's reaction to these two tragedies was markedly different.
In his first statement in response to the Boston bombings, President Obama said that “Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in the wake of this senseless loss.”

In the his first statement in response to the explosion outside Waco, Texas, President Obama said that “our prayers go out to the people of West, Texas in the aftermath of last night’s deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant.”

In his statement on Boston, President Obama said that “any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”

But when it came to the explosion in Texas, President Obama said nothing about responsible individuals, responsible groups or the full weight of justice.

Why not?

Because when it comes to street crime, President Obama is the top cop.

When it comes to apparent corporate crime and violence, he’s the enabler in chief.

Make no mistake, if it becomes clear that the Texas explosion was triggered by a terrorist attack, a la the Oklahoma City bombing, then Obama will begin talking about “the full weight of justice.”

But if the focus is corporate crime and violence, corporate recklessness, workplace safety, “full weight of justice” rhetoric won’t see the light of day.
The Boston bombings generated little property damage, while the explosion in Texas destroyed or damaged homes near the fertilizer plant for several blocks. In the overall scope of things, the West explosion far outstrips the ones in Massachusetts, but the latter is what the nation continues to focus on.

And here is one other thought to contemplate. "Terrorist attacks" on US soil are few and far between. The fear they tend to engender is way out of proportion to their potential for occurrence. Plant explosions, releases of toxic fumes or other sorts of industrial accidents that threaten the health and safety of the public are far more common. They occur several times each year and yet these sorts of tragedies do not engender the same level of fear. In fact, in this case, the potential for occurrence far outstrips the proportion of concern.

Fourteen people needlessly lost their lives in West, Texas, and most Americans hardly blinked. Something is wrong here...very wrong.

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