Why I'm voting for Fluoridation tomorrow.

"But as Slate points out, the anti-fluoridation movement is not driven by science as much as an ascendant knee-jerk anti-establishment politics that sanctifies "personal choice" over all. This attitude unites the extreme left and extreme right in a weird nexus of alternative medicine, Infowars-type conspiracy theories, and environmental activism that results in both your high school friends and your aunt spewing the same articles from NaturalNews all over your Facebook wall."

I'd also add that much of the anti-fluoride pseudoscience skepticism seems to come from an ardent, irrational provincialism that seems to be the lynchpin of everything amazing and frustrating about our town and our local political process. Our forefathers in the seventies fought for and established an "Oregon Exceptionalism" brand of politics that espoused moralistic and borderline-religious language to demand protection for our natural resources and landscape from waste and destruction, and an awful lot of the things I admire and cherish about this state (public beaches, recycling, the UGB, local food) are the eventual outgrowths of this raucously independent experiment in political innovation. 

Yet now, in a troubling manner, I see these well-meaning tropes of Oregon Exceptionalism espoused by friends and colleagues to demand the "purity of Bull Run water" (or, even more infuriating, fluoride-free microbreweries), as though a public health initiative undertaken in literally every other major city across the country that has tremendous benefits to our city's most disadvantaged young folks is somehow a threat to the political underpinnings and identity of our state. 

It's not surprising that a rhetoric and political worldview written forty years ago for a sparsely populated, staggeringly middle class and homogeneous Western state dependent on natural resources is showing its cracks; Oregon in general and Portland in particular are none of those things anymore. And yet, on the eve of an election, I'm watching otherwise smart folks falsely-equivocating a social justice initiative that will largely help young children of color as an attack on "clean water" due to the imposition of "chemicals," or something, as though its an affront on our Oregon values to prudently monitor and utilize our natural resources to make our communities healthy and prosperous.

Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, I'm troubled by the development of this eery, navel-gazing, borderline-nativist politics rooted in moralistic "protection of the environment" that stands to marginalize the folks who have most recently joined us in Tom McCall's Eden, and who have worked hardest to get this bill to the ballot. I'm voting yes for Fluoride, and hope you do the same. 

1 comment:

Miranda Raven said...

Pseudoscience is scary, isn't it? Nice work.