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

February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail