Two things can be true at once. We can believe that the people in East Palestine, Ohio, are a bunch of fucking idiots who vote against their own interests repeatedly, electing horrible motherfuckers who don’t give a happy monkey fuck about their health or safety, but, man, they sure hate Black people and migrants, so they got your vote. And we can also believe that they should get all the help they desperately need to recover from the toxic chemicals that were spilled and burned when a Norfolk Southern train derailed in their town.
You can hear the nematodes of the right spout off about how Democrats and the “left” ignored the disaster because, as Fox “news” Tucker “You can tell I’m lying because I’m breathing” Carlson put it on February 15, “East Palestine is a poor, white town that voted for Trump. So honestly, who cares? No one in the Biden administration did care and that’s an atrocity.” And you can wonder, “The fuck are they talking about?” It’s a fucking lie. The train derailed on February 3. By February 4, the National Transportation Safety Board was already investigating it. By early morning on February 4, the Environmental Protection Agency was already there to monitor air and water and help where it could. (Seriously: the derailment happened at 9 p.m. on the 3rd. By 2 a.m., the EPA was there.) The Department of Transportation was there, and FEMA was in contact with Ohio officials about what it could offer.
Now, I’m no big-time professional con artist pretending to be a journalist, but I’m pretty sure that both the NTSB and the EPA are part of the Biden administration. I’m pretty sure the DOT and FEMA are, too. I’m pretty sure that means the Biden administration did care and that no atrocity occurred. No, President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg didn’t rush there, but that’s not really an accurate measure of the care the area received.
And if the motherfuckers in conservative media and in politics want to racialize this, let’s fuckin’ go. You know what Tucker Carlson didn’t berate the government about? The Flint water crisis, but Black people were the main victims, so fuck ’em, right? You know what they don’t talk about on Fox “news” or, indeed, much of anywhere? The continuing effects of toxic chemicals in places like Cancer Alley in Louisiana, which is such a fucking tragedy of high cancer rates in a region of primarily Black Americans that the United Nations has declared it “environmental racism.”
Or how about this: In November 2019, there was a huge explosion at a petrochemical plant in Port Neches, Texas. It was one of several such events at chemical plants in the area in 2019. This one caused an evacuation of a half-mile radius and the force of the explosion blew out windows on residences, with others downwind of the place told to shelter in place (and close their windows, if they still had windows). It was one week after the Trump administration had shitcanned a rule on warning people when there were toxic chemicals being stored near them. The rollbacks of a bunch of regulations almost immediately affected the health of people living near these facilities, especially in Texas. Not a fucking peep out of right-wing media because it was all Black and brown people who were affected.
What? You want train derailments? How about the one near Barstow, Georgia, in 2019, where hydrochloric acid was spilled? It’s a majority Black town and needed evacuating, but no one demanded that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao or President Trump visit to comfort people.
Yeah, so, sure, please racialize these things.
Let’s acknowledge a few things, too. The Obama administration could have supported tougher rules on what’s labeled as hazardous on trains. The Trump administration shouldn’t have repealed an Obama-era regulation on updating brake systems on trains carrying hazardous materials. In fact, the East Palestine fucking over might have been averted only if both of those sentences were in effect because the train wasn’t labeled “hazardous,” so it didn’t need the updated brakes. Even as the pathetic hate junkies of the right try to spin political gold out of this environmental disaster hay, they are being cornered into admitting that maybe some fucking regulations are necessary.
What really pisses them off is that the Biden administration, and, indeed, most Democrats and people on the left do give a fuck about the people of East Palestine. It’s like they can’t comprehend that idea that we might fucking hate their politics but still not want them to be poisoned to death. Left-wing media (real left-wing media, not what the right bullshits about being liberal) has been all over the story, including Mother Jones and Democracy Now!. The right-wing nutzoids can’t get their tiny little brains to believe that the federal government might actually be doing what it’s supposed to do because it’s being led by a Democrat and thus must be degraded no matter how competent it might be. Are there people on the left being total dicks about this (and not just semi-dicks, like me)? Sure. There always will be.
What also complicates shit is that the Republican governor of Ohio and man who looks like he’s spent too much time staring through a hole in the guest shower at the mansion, Mike DeWine, as well as all the Republican officials in the state, are declaring that the air and water are fine, just like the EPA. But I suppose they’ll just be called “RINOs” or some such shit because they don’t toe the Tucker line.
Here’s the thing, though, fellow aghast and amused libs. We should do our best to welcome the right-wingers who have newly discovered that we need, you know, government to protect people when it comes to shit like this. Welcome to the party, motherfuckers.
By the way, about a third of the people in Columbiana County, where East Palestine is, are on Medicaid, including a bunch on there because Ohio accepted the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, you know, Obamacare.
If you’re in the area and feeling sick and getting medical attention that you need because you’re covered, thank a Democrat, not Tucker Carlson.
(Note: I’m gonna bet they almost all vote for Trump or DeSantis or whoever in 2024, no matter if the Biden administration gets them all new houses, new jobs, and all the pussy or dick they could want.)
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on February 26, 2023 on The Rude Pundit, a website featuring commentary by Lee Papa. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Papa.