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As a general rule, I’m really tired of hearing what celebrities think of anything politics-related, and seeing them “testify” on the Hill is basically my least favorite CSPAN circus from Washington D.C. That being said, sometimes it’s nice to have someone present who can actually get the cameras, and those behind them, to pay attention, and today was one of those days. Comedian Jon Stewart testified about 9/11 first responders to an almost empty Congress, and he wasn’t shy about hiding his disgust at the situation:
"You should be ashamed of yourselves": In an emotional testimony, former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart blasted a more than half-empty congressional panel for the delays in reauthorizing a fund for 9/11 first responders https://t.co/iHJXgvogp4 pic.twitter.com/VoGOMTv0yA
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 11, 2019
The scene reminded me of the recent HBO mini-series about the disaster at Chernobyl (a must-watch if you haven’t already taken the plunge).
One of the most jarring aspects of watching the series is just how little the Soviet government cared for its own people, and that saving face was more important than evacuating towns, about warning neighboring countries, etc. Thousands of men were lied to or told half-truths about the radiation dangers they were exposed to while cleaning out the area of debris at the nuclear plant and in the surrounding area.
We are, of course, better than that, and it’s time to start acting like it. The scene today gave me the sinking feeling I experienced watching the Soviet government lie to its men and then leave them hanging out to dry. Despite claims at the time that the area around Ground Zero was safe, it’s hard to believe many people in a position of authority actually believed that to be the case. The air in Lower Manhattan was clearly polluted with building debris that was never meant to be airborne. I imagine most of them would have gone there anyway, and more than a few suspected at the time that the area wasn’t as safe as some claimed it was.
But now we know for sure the risk that these first responders took on, we know what being down there in the first hours and days and weeks did to their long-term health. And now it’s time to prove that we’re better than the Soviet government was after Chernobyl. All of these men, in the Ukraine, and in New York City, did nothing short of the Lord’s work in the wake of disaster. They are owed relief and assistance dealing with the health issues stemming from the work they did on behalf of humanity. They had our backs, and it’s time to have theirs. What a sad state of affairs that we need Jon Stewart to remind us of that.