Rick Snyder faces at least a small consequence for his actions

Rick Snyder was the governor of Michigan during the period 2011 to 2018. During that time, he appointed an ’emergency manager’ to replace the elected city government of the city of Flint and that manager switched the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the highly polluted Flint river without putting in place adequate cleaning up processes. The result was devastating for the residents of that impoverished city. They got filthy water with dangerously high levels of lead that led to all manner of ailments. This also led to one of the lowest points of the Obama presidency when, as Michael Moore showed in his documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, Obama flew in in grand style, staged a photo op where he pretended to drink the water, and then swept out again without doing a damn thing, infuriating the residents who had been hoping that he would take the major drastic actions required to clean up their water.

Snyder of course did not pay any price for his appalling negligence. And Harvard University, always ready to coddle big-name politicians who should rightly be treated as pariahs, offered him a year-long fellowship, no doubt so that its students, many of them likely destined for political careers that serve the oligarchy, could learn first-hand how to really screw over poor communities.

But this time there was a furious backlash to his appointment and as a result, the offer was withdrawn.

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday he will withdraw from a planned Harvard fellowship after a social media backlash and email and petition campaign opposing the appointment.

Douglas Elmendorf, the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, which offered Snyder the fellowship, sent an email to the school community saying both “we and he now believe that having him on campus would not enhance education here in the ways we intended.”

Snyder said on Twitter: “I have informed the Harvard Kennedy School that I am turning down its offer” to serve as a senior research fellow.

“It would have been exciting to share my experiences, both positive and negative; our current political environment and its lack of civility makes this too disruptive. I wish them the best.”

The liberal group Progress Michigan said the fellowship never should have been offered.

“The backlash Snyder and Harvard faced over the fellowship wasn’t a ‘lack of civility’ — it was people speaking truth to power and holding Snyder accountable for the myriad of problems he and his corporate donors created for Michigan and communities across this state,” the group’s executive director, Lonnie Scott, said in a news release.

“If Rick Snyder is so concerned about so-called civility, then he should get the same amount of civility he showed the people of Flint: none.”

Cue the whining from people who will claim that Snyder was denied his free speech rights. No he wasn’t. People who have done shameful things like polluting the water of the communities they should have been serving do not deserve to be given a platform to now pollute the minds of students.

This is not the first time that dean Elmendorf has shown poor judgment. You may recall the fiasco when he withdrew an invitation to Chelsea Manning after Mike Pompeo, then CIA director, and former deputy director of the agency Mike Morell (who had been complicit in the CIA’s torture programs), opposed Manning’s appointment. At least this time the withdrawal was due to popular backlash and not because people involved in the CIA’s torture programs objected to someone who had courageously exposed the US military’s abuses. Harvard cannot risk its students, the future leaders of America, being contaminated by someone like Manning who stands by her principles. She might tell them that there is a higher calling than serving the political-military-industrial complex and that would never do.


  1. lanir says

    I think the issue with Flint’s water supply wasn’t massive pollution in the river, it was a chemical difference that would only be a problem if the water was not treated correctly before it was sent down the pipes out to consumers. And that’s exactly what the emergency manager chose to do despite having all the information available to avoid the problem in the first place.

    I’m not an expert so correct me if I’m just remembering something wrong.

    The details are somewhat important for a few reasons. One, they greatly increase the cost of repairs because you can’t just flush out a bunch of “polluted water” from the system and start over. The lead pipes were corroded so any water would become polluted just by sending it down those pipes. There’s a coating that forms in lead piping which keeps them from adding lead to the water but that coating was eroded by the chemical differences in the water. Two, lead pipes are in common use across the US. As far as I’m aware no newly installed pipes will be made of lead but there was a time when it was considered cheap and safe to use. I don’t recall the numbers but a considerable portion of America gets water through lead pipes and it would cost a great deal to replace them all. The chemical treatment to avoid damaging the protective layer that forms in the pipes is relatively cheap, however. Three, it’s an ugly logistics and political mess. There is no mass replacement plan for existing lead pipes. At this point mostly you have to test your water yourself to see if it’s bad or not. If it is, you still might be on the hook for it if they can claim it’s the pipe from the water main to your house. And even if you replace that and still find you have bad water, you probably don’t have any recourse to make your municipal water supplier do anything about it aside from recommending you get filters.

  2. Holms says

    Snyder said on Twitter: “I have informed the Harvard Kennedy School that I am turning down its offer” to serve as a senior research fellow.

    Hah! He is turning them down! This is too rich.

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