Response to Pulitzer prize winner Jim Morin of the Miami Herald's political cartoon about Flint, Michigan (online).
The political cartoon by Jim Morin of Miami Herald is arguing that politicians knowingly poisoned and neglected to protect the citizens of Flint, Michigan by abstaining from doing a number of safety precautions before switching the water source of the city from the Detroit River to the Flint River. Firstly, the cartoon depicts a doctor holding a sign that says “Lead Symptoms” and a patient with a shirt that says “Flint, MI.” listing off the health symptoms he is experiencing. The doctor knows from his education that the resident from Flint’s symptoms are because of lead poisoning, which stems from the tainted water supply that was not tested correctly before resident use. The medical facts are present to prove this link, which is represented by the doctor holding the clipboard. The politicians’ refusal to accept their faults is evident because the doctors have first-hand experience with the patients from Flint who have lead poisoning, and the doctors can diagnose and visibly see the change in levels over a period of time, connecting it back to the switch in water sources. This is analogous to someone disagreeing that a bruise resulted from falling on the steps. The bruise resulted from the action because of the contact. Similarly, the contact with lead by drinking the poisoned water created lead poisoning in the citizens because there was simply no other source it could have come from. The evidence of lead poisoning is clearly related to the fault of the politicians in the misstep of not properly testing the Flint River before making the switch. The doctor fully comprehends this link, but the politicians refuse to acknowledge it, demonstrating their neglect of the citizens. In addition, the doctor makes the statement in response to the patient’s symptoms, “Perfectly normal after listening to politicians lying about poisoning your water”. This statement satirically calls out the politicians’ fault for the patient’s symptoms by not testing the water and focusing more on the money saved than lives saved. The lying of the politicians about their involvement with the poisoning only makes everything worse, from the constituents’ dissatisfaction to many politicians’ eventual manslaughter charges. Denying the results from their actions was dishonest and calls for more attention to the corrupt reasoning behind the change in both river sourcing and for not testing the new water source properly, therefore poisoning the residents of Flint. Finally, another detail of the cartoon that demonstrates Morin’s argument is the race of the two main subjects, the resident of Flint being African American and the doctor being Caucasian. The difference in race is a simplistic representation of power. In history’s lingering subliminal connotations, Caucasian Americans have been the ruling race, while the African Americans had been seen as inferior. The doctor, represented by a white man, is in the group of corrupted people who have authority but do not use it correctly, or fail to perform their duty, just like the politicians who did not care for their constituents and call for the testing of the river. The fact that the majority of residents of Flint are African American and are not as affluent as the politicians or the doctor, demonstrates the selfish reasoning behind not doing the precautionary actions that would have protected the citizens of Flint. They put money over morals. With authority comes power, and the selfishness of the politicians, no matter what race, was what led to the poisoning of many people and their deaths. In conclusion, Morin’s political cartoon establishes the argument against the politicians who did not properly test the Flint River after switching the water source for the town of Flint, Michigan, therefore poisoning the citizens for the corrupt reasoning of saving money.