The things our tribe isn't told: Is Kevin Drum allowed to say that?
Drum has been the reporter of record concerning exposure to lead. For his 2013 cover report go Mother Jones about the effects of lead, you can just click here.
Drum has been the go-to guy on the effects of lead. But in his latest post about Flint, the gentleman tells us this:
DRUM (8/13/19): What happened in Flint was horrible. That said, Flint is now one of the most heavily studied cities in America, and virtually every credible study suggests the same thing: not only did the switch to Flint River water have no effect on public health, it never significantly increased blood lead levels in the first place. This might be because Flint water was never heavily lead poisoned to begin with, or it might be because Flint residents started using bottled water and tap filters fairly quickly after the alarms were sounded.Say what? Virtually every credible study says the switch to Flint River water "had no effect on public health?"
Either way, both parents and children in Flint should by now feel confident that their water debacle, as outrageous as it was, is vanishingly unlikely to have had any noticeable health effects. That’s a good thing.
If you've read Drum's many posts and reports down through the years, you might not be surprised by that assertion. If you watch Rachel Maddow and read the New York Times, you'll think that claim has to be nuts.
Watching Maddow, we were told, again and again, about the way everyone in the whole city had been "poisoned." Needless to say, Maddow's main focus seemed to involve the desire to see people get thrown into jail.
Is it possible that what Drum says in this post is true? Is it possible that, even though the bungling was "horrible," the credible studies say there was no harm—and certainly, no major harm—done to public health?
We aren't specialists in this area, but based on our reading of Drum, we'd assume that this may well be true. As Drum later says, "that's a good thing"—except for the insult to the dignity of the tribe, of course.
Our liberal tribe loved the story about the way the Republican governor had "poisoned" the children of Flint. Maddow broadcast this pleasing story night after night after night.
As with Michael Brown, so too here—reliable sources aren't going to tell you what Drum's reporting has shown. This raises an anthropological question, one we've raised before:
Is man [sic] really "the rational animal," as we've long been told? Or are we instead inclined to divide ourselves into tribes, then run on "gossip" and on compelling group "fictions," with a healthy dose of our species' lack of tolerance thrown in the stew?
That's what Professor Harari has said. And his book, a giant ongoing best-seller, is blurbed on the front by Bill Gates!
Barack Obama blurbed it too. Could Professor Harari be right?
One way harm may have done done: Flint's children were told, again and again, that they had been "poisoned."
Can such reports cause harm all by themselves, even in the absence of fact? We confess that we sent Drum the New Yorker report upon which he based this post.
As part of that post, Drum graphed the (vastly declining) blood lead levels among children in Flint from 1998 through 2016. If this matter is new to you, it's very much worth a look.
You heard nothing about this from Maddow. Is this just the nature of tribe?