FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

New York: 1832 and Today

by JOSHUA FRANK

Back in the 1800s New Yorkers had a modest nickname for their corrupt metropolis. They called it the “Corporation.” It was a telling name, indeed. Although the city at the time was a filthy, hog-infested cesspool, the Big Apple was nonetheless a vibrant template of the New World industry to come.

The busy ports of New York were some of the most profitable in the world. But the disparity of wealth between the city’s inhabitants was disgustingly evident. The rich, like the affluent of today, ran the city. New York was for the well to do — the business and ruling class elite. It was certainly not the utopia so many Europeans had hoped for as they traveled thousands of miles to these forested shores.

In 1832 the overpopulated village of New York, on its heels, was hit with a gruesome epidemic of Cholera. The wicked disease had journeyed from Europe and then to Canada where it took its first recorded victim on Western soil. Eventually the disease made its way down to the city, only to inflict a carnal destruction never before seen in the white occupied state.

Health officials held back information of the looming pestilence from most New Yorkers. The Corporation, it seemed, was more interested in its own financial well being then the welfare of its citizens.

Needless to say, thousands perished. The rich fled the city. The poor stayed. And most died. The city’s artists and working class had virtually all perished. The New York health board did virtually nothing to stop the outbreak.

The pious said it was the devil’s work. God had reprimanded New York for its sinful ways they declared. The red light district, coined “Five Points” at the time, had been hit the worst. Living in these dank corners of Gotham were the morally inept, the downtrodden, the scum of the great new city. Of course the health authorities turned a blind eye to the death. These evildoers had it coming, and many of the elite were happy to see them die.

It is hard not to draw parallels between what happened in New York in 1832 and what took place in NYC just three years ago on September 11. Has the Corporation again withheld valuable information from the people in order to protect its own neck? Has President Bush held vital scientific records hostage that indicate Ground Zero and the surrounding area may have enormous health risks for those unfortunate enough to live or work there? It is certainly starting to appear that way.

In a recent government study, nearly half of the 1000 people involved were directly in contact with Ground Zero following the World Trade Center attacks, have had substantial lung damage.

Suzanne Mattei, author of a recent environmental analysis titled, “Air Pollution and Deception at Ground Zero,” says, “The Bush administration knew the health risks and ignored its own long-standing body of knowledge about the harmful products of incineration and demolition. It should have issued a health warning immediately on that basis.”

Other US government reports have found the highest levels of deadly dioxins ever recorded near and around the WTC site — close to 1500 times normal levels. They also admit that close to 400,000 people were exposed to these dangerous debris. Indeed, more New Yorkers could die from the 9/11 fallout then the attacks themselves.

“The epidemic [in New York in 1832] provoked anxiety even in those places fortunate enough to have escaped its effects,” writes Charles Rosenberg in an essay on the historical pandemic. “Mothers feared for their young children … The vicious seemed to have been hardened in their depravity, though the spiritually minded Christian was confirmed in his faith.”

Sound familiar? Keep the public in fear and they will never ask for the truth. Seems as if the Corporation of 1832 may still be alive today.

JOSHUA FRANK, a contributor to CounterPunch’s forthcoming book, A Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, is putting the finishing touches on Left Out: How Liberals did Bush’s Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press. He welcomes comments at frank_joshua@hotmail.com.

 

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Jesse Jackson
Jeff Sessions is Rolling Back Basic Rights
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Rivera Sun
Blind Slogans and Shallow Greatness
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail