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“Americans don’t look at us as human beings. They look at us as tools for work.”
July 12, 2012 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Journalist Chris Hedges and Illustrator Joe Sacco have co-authored Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt about life in the ‘sacrifice zones’ in the American Dream.
Camden, New Jersey where:
The poor have to help the poor, because the ones who make the money are helping the people with money.
And from West Virginia: The Story of Rudy the Miner, with text.
An interview with Hedges.
(Mountain coal rape previously 1; 2).
posted by adamvasco (31 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hedges was interviewed on CBC's The Current radio show a couple of days ago. From my vantage point up here in Canada, it all seems so surreal, especially Hedges' call for insurrection at the end of the interview.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:10 PM on July 12, 2012


I'm waiting for the day when people realize that Camden is not special. It's not this anomalously down on its luck community in an otherwise prosperous nation. It's what a significant portion of the US looks like.
posted by byanyothername at 5:14 PM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I always found it incredibly ironic that my wealthy mother-in-law, who lives not far from there in one of the richest counties in the US, somehow thinks her helping fund a church-based community garden makes it OK for her to spend a significant part of the year jet-setting first class to visit the Pope and the like.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:16 PM on July 12, 2012


Is she in Cherry Hill? That town is one of the wealthiest in America.
posted by Renoroc at 5:19 PM on July 12, 2012


i adore joe sacco.
posted by nadawi at 5:23 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The poor have to help the poor, because the ones who make the money are helping the people with money.

What? The poor are also supposed to be helping the people with money. It's not bad enough that the poor are lazy; they're allowed to be selfish now, too?
posted by scody at 5:25 PM on July 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


What? The poor are also supposed to be helping the people with money. It's not bad enough that the poor are lazy; they're allowed to be selfish now, too?

Lucky Ducky!!! /Hollingsworth Hound
posted by fleetmouse at 5:29 PM on July 12, 2012


The poor have to help the poor, because the ones who make the money are helping the people with money.

Congress.
posted by Mblue at 5:31 PM on July 12, 2012


byanyothername: "I'm waiting for the day when people realize that Camden is not special. It's not this anomalously down on its luck community in an otherwise prosperous nation. It's what a significant portion of the US looks like."

Indeed. In Maine, where I grew up, everyone thinks it's quaint and unspoiled and everyone comes up to eat lobster rolls, but few of the tourists truly understand the misery that occurs to make their vacation possible.

Huge numbers of people are unemployed between October and June, because there's no tourists- but the businesses are all in competition to offer low prices, and tourists aren't willing to pay enough for that lobster roll so that the woman behind the counter can feed her kids over the winter.

October comes by. If you're lucky, you get unemployment, tied to having to drive 50 miles every two weeks to be patronised by some nitwit with a 2-year-degree that "No job is too bad".
That peters out, and you live by whatever means you can until June, when you finally have to scrabble to pay off your most outstanding bills. You don't get ahead, because wages are crap.

Alcoholism is a big thing.
Bath salts are a big thing.
Official "Beating your wife is illegal!" signs are widespread.
Those quaint houses? Summer homes, owned by someone from away. They make more money renting it weekly over the summer than they would renting to working people. Locals have to settle for a modular or a trailer far away from town centers.

It's really grim, but nobody will talk openly about it because it's bad for business- and we can't have the tourists feel like they're bad people: they might not come.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:34 PM on July 12, 2012 [20 favorites]


Too many people still think that "revolt"="violence", but Nonviolent Movements, combined with strikes, are pretty darn effective instruments of political action.

All the violence one may see during these demonstration is usually either caused by extremist groups or deliberately provoked so that the the demonstrators may be easily described as "violent and disorderly".
posted by elpapacito at 5:46 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


This government is not representing the interests of its people. We want a new government.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:51 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


tourists aren't willing to pay enough for that lobster roll so that the woman behind the counter can feed her kids over the winter.

This doesn't make any sense. I live in a tourist town (it used to be a tourist town until tourism was surpassed by the tech sector several years ago) and the tourists come and the tourists go, and sometimes they don't show up. Tourism is a risky thing to base your industry on, and it is possible to attract tourist who pay higher prices.

What the real problem in the region is that there is no effective economic development engine outside of tourism, fisheries, and the service industry.

With the fisheries, at least in Canada, pay used to be good until a) fishing stocks were depleted and b) large corporations were given all the fishing licenses, depressing wages and causing great instability in the job market.

But relying on tourists for well-paying jobs is just a fool's game. I want my children to do more with their life than sell t-shirts and keychains.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:52 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hedges was interviewed on CBC's The Current radio show a couple of days ago.


Here's the link to that interview:

http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/news-promo/2012/07/10/chris-hedges-days-of-destruction/

I'm going to buy the book as I admire both Sacco's and Hedge's work. I don't see change coming for a long, long time, if at all, though.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:02 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The New Face of Black Lung: The disease was supposed to be a relic of the dirty old days of coal mining. But it's making a deadly comeback in Appalachia.
posted by homunculus at 6:09 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


But relying on tourists for well-paying jobs is just a fool's game. I want my children to do more with their life than sell t-shirts and keychains.

I think the people engaging in this "fool's game" are aware of this and don't really have any better options. I think many of them would also prefer that their children do more with their lives than sell crap to tourists but when there aren't any jobs and you lack the wherewithal to go anywhere and even if you went you wouldn't have the training or a support network in that location, well, what are you supposed to do? So you wait for tourists.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:18 PM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hedges/Sacco is an interesting combo. I think Sacco is the much better, more nuanced and interesting journalist actually though Hedges portrays him in that interview as primarily an illustrator. Hedges goes on to use the term cartoonist and then he says Sacco's work is journalism too... would have been better to identify him emphatically as a journalist from the start though. Hedges probably has far better contacts in the US though and Sacco doesn't do the kind of Hedges-ian sustained ideological argument this project is premised upon
posted by Bwithh at 6:23 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The term "sacrifice zone" used here is evocative. It is sometimes used in management of natural areas to describe the area given over to human recreation, the idea being that humans coming in and trashing a small corner pays for the protection of the rest. I hadn't heard it used in a political context like this before but it resonates.
posted by BinGregory at 6:29 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


the origins of the phrase "National Sacrifice Zone"
posted by Bwithh at 6:57 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sacco doesn't do the kind of Hedges-ian sustained ideological argument this project is premised upon

I guess. Sacco isn't much for pushing a singular message, but he is a hell of a journalist for exploring the deep complexities of a situation, and can do so in much fewer pages than you'd ever thing possible.
posted by schroedinger at 7:00 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would be very interested in looking at google satellite view shots of the most devastated WV locations if anybody knows some lat-lon's.

By far the most horrifying thing I have seen so far is the Athabasca Oil Sands site.
posted by bukvich at 7:04 PM on July 12, 2012


Near Whitesville WV
posted by adamvasco at 7:12 PM on July 12, 2012


The Brushy Fork Impoundment Structure is at 37.991895,-81.574169.
posted by bukvich at 7:16 PM on July 12, 2012


About three miles west of your arrow adamvasco.
posted by bukvich at 7:17 PM on July 12, 2012


All the violence one may see during these demonstration is usually either caused by extremist groups or deliberately provoked so that the the demonstrators may be easily described as "violent and disorderly".

Which makes this article ironic to me, since Hedges loudly criticized Occupy Oakland as a violent 'cancer' after they were attacked by the police.
posted by bradbane at 7:32 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which makes this article ironic to me, since Hedges loudly criticized Occupy Oakland as a violent 'cancer' after they were attacked by the police.

Get you facts straight. He criticized the black bloc anarchists who were smashing shit.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:11 PM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hedges/Sacco is an interesting combo. I think Sacco is the much better, more nuanced and interesting journalist actually though Hedges portrays him in that interview as primarily an illustrator. Hedges goes on to use the term cartoonist and then he says Sacco's work is journalism too... would have been better to identify him emphatically as a journalist from the start though.

I totally agree.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:11 PM on July 12, 2012


Review in CJR by Justin Peters:

"In a book ostensibly about people who live on the margins, the person we hear the most from is Princeton resident Chris Hedges. I respect that, to a point. Every story reflects its teller, and Hedges is open about his allegiances. But he is injudicious, and the excesses ultimately sink this well-meaning, well-reported book. ... It’s exhausting, and I say this as a pro-labor zealot who agrees that corporate excess has crippled the working class."
posted by lukemeister at 10:22 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am so charmed that someone would name their chihuahuas Big Pepsi Cola and Little Pepsi Cola.

OK, back to reading the articles.
posted by Duffington at 4:58 PM on July 13, 2012


Chris Hedges in the Boston Review: War Is Betrayal: While we preach myths about the glory of combat, the poor fight for elite interests.
posted by homunculus at 10:56 AM on July 15, 2012


Bill Moyers: Chris Hedges on Capitalism’s ‘Sacrifice Zones’
posted by homunculus at 5:23 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I rarely say it: for the clear-eyed, ‘Sacrifice Zones’ is Essential Viewing. Moyers and Hedges approach our grim dilemma with unsurpassed presence and authenticity.

Optionally there's a Full Transcript button at the top of the page.

Hedges: As Paul Tillich writes about, you know, "Institutions are always inherently demonic, including the Church." And you cannot finally serve the interests of those institutions. That for those who seek the moral life, there will always come a time in which they have to defy even institutions they care about if they are able to retain that moral core.
posted by Twang at 5:05 PM on August 4, 2012


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