We Have Money for Notre Dame, but Not Flint, Michigan?

Apparently there’s none to spare for our own.

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Photo via Bennett Tobias on Unsplash

On April 15th, 2019 the world watched as Notre Dame, one of the most prominent Catholic Cathedrals and a 900 year old monument of Gothic architecture, burned in a fire that lasted throughout much of the night and caused extensive structural damage. Watching the building burn filled many with a profound sense of shock, loss, and nostalgia for those who have seen the building in person. It didn’t take long for social media to be flooded with pictures of selfies in front of the iconic building, and recollections of fond memories of their visits.

Even with the French government pledging to rebuild the Cathedral, companies like Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, and their enormously wealthy owners were so affected by the fire that some made individual promises of hundreds of millions of dollars for restoration efforts of the Cathedral. All this just months after Parisian citizens were rioting in the streets because of rising costs of basic necessities like gasoline that many are struggling desperately to afford.

But these monetary pledges were not limited to private companies and citizens alone, or even to the French government. A statement released by the Trump Administration regarding the fire pledged assistance to France in their restoration efforts. While on the surface the Trump Administration’s promise may seem uncontroversial, it doesn’t take too long to reflect on some of the troubles affecting American citizens that continue to go ignored by the politicians who were elected to represent the interests of their constituents.

It has been five years since the people of Flint, Michigan have had clean water to drink.

There are thousands of homeless living on the streets here in the United States. People are dying because they can’t afford to treat their illnesses. Children all over the country don’t know when they’ll be getting their next meal. Senior citizens are cutting their pills in half because they can’t afford the costs of their prescription drugs. When these are just a few of the significant problems facing our families, friends, and neighbors, shouldn’t it go without saying that their pain comes before another country’s monument?

During one of the holiest weeks of the year for the Christian politicians running our country, the burning of Notre Dame has served as yet another reminder of how easily our problems could be fixed if those in a position to help actually cared enough to do so. When staggering amounts are already being given, wouldn’t the money for the restoration of a Cathedral in another wealthy country be better spent on making sure Flint has clean water again, or ensuring that no one in the United States is sleeping on the street at night? Are these same politicians mourning for Notre Dame pledging to donate some of their wealth to their christian brothers and sisters in the parishes of the three historically black churches that were recently burned to the ground?

If these issues were being addressed, I’m sure many people wouldn’t have any problem with offering France assistance. It was done as a gesture of international solidarity, and there is nothing wrong with it in that respect. And yet, that’s what makes their clear blindness in regard to what’s happening in their own back yards to their constituents even more apparent and infuriating. Time and time again when it comes to taking care of our own struggling people and communities, as far as the right wing is concerned there is not a dime to be found to help them.

The fact is, Notre Dame does not need our money.

France is already pledging to have it restored within five years, and the Catholic church has money of its own. But the money pouring down from the French billionaire and millionaire class alone will ensure that the Cathedral is rebuilt in all its glory, and it will live on now as a beautiful, devastating reminder of the hypocrisy of the wealthy elite.

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Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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