Blowing smoke

The train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio continues to be a political football. Or at the very least, a sad adventure in missing the point.  Transport Secretary, Pete Buttigieg finally made a visit to the town, saying he was sorry for not being there earlier. He told the rail company responsible that they needed to foot the bill for clean up. A clinic has been set up in to address health concerns.

However, former President Donald Trump upstaged Secretary Buttigieg somewhat by turning up the day before bringing supplies and buying a round of burgers for emergency workers. 

Independent media were unimpressed with Mr. Buttigieg’s reluctance to speak to them. GOP lawmakers questioned why President Biden’s secret trip to Ukraine, complete with promises of financial assistance to its citizens, seemed to take priority over a visit to Ohio. But government agencies are working in the town (that may be cold comfort to some) and Governor De Wine turned down assistance from the President.

This situation is another one where everyone is playing for political points. Author Walter Kirn wrote a cranky Substack, noting that politicians seem uninterested in the little guys – that is almost par for the course these days. But his main barrage was directed at the purveyors of information, a.k.a. the corporate media, which quickly framed the disaster in culture war terms. 

Just when the public could have benefited from clear coverage of the basic facts of the situation, many media publications and social media personalities wrote commentary about race, or Mr. Trump’s opportunism, or which administration was to blame for safety breaches and so on. Kirn writes, “Man bites dog was a big story once, but the bigger story now, for them, is the cultural import of the attack and who is strengthened and who is weakened by the assorted re-tellings of the matter.”

The pandemic years have revealed that we cannot rely on institutions as we once did. There is a chance that no one is coming to help, as we wrote previously. But this is why God gave us neighbors. Whether we live under a good government or not, looking out for our brothers and sisters is something Christians have always done. While scoffers in media and politics debate and obfuscate, the wise man turns his hand to where he can be of use and we know that our readers are orgnanizing to help folks in Ohio. As Rev Fisk said this week on Stop the White Noise, get into a battle you can do something about.

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