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 follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba after Fidel: Interview with Professor John Kirk
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewable of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail