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Hedges and Sacco: A Twenty-First Century American Sacrifice Zone

By       Message Tom Engelhardt     Permalink
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The men sit in front of their flat-screen television and chat about friends, classmates, and relatives who died of overdoses. Hovack talks about a niece in her early twenties, the mother of two small children. She recently died of a drug overdose. He tells us about a high-school classmate, an addict living in a shack we can see from the window. The shack has no electricity or running water. The men, who rarely leave the house, mention the high bails being set for selling drugs, with some reaching $50,000 to $80,000. They joke about elderly grandmothers being hauled off to prison for drug dealing.

"I've seen a lot of busts in the county over the last few years, and a lot of the people that have been arrested are elderly people that are sellin' their medication just to live," Vance says. "When I was workin' at the hospital I seen ODs all the time. Young people were comin' in. It's bad. The depression and the pain. I guess some people that hang and live in this area, they just have to turn to somethin'."

"Since the drug problem is so bad you see the crime rate as well," Leach says. "People breakin' into homes, stealin' whatever they can to sell or pawn, just to keep up with their drug habit."

Heizer, seven weeks later, dies of a drug overdose, sitting on the living room couch in front of the big-screen television.

Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and writes a weekly column for Truthdig. He was part of the New York Times team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He has written for numerous publications including Harper's Magazine , the Nation , Granta , and Foreign Affairs , and is the author of the bestsellers Death of the Liberal Class , Empire of Illusion , and War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning . The above excerpt is from his new book, Days of Revolt, Days of Destruction.

Joe Sacco is widely hailed as the creator of war-reportage comics. He is the author of Palestine, Footnotes in Gaza (winner of the Ridenhour Book Prize), and Safe Area: Gorazde .

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Copyright 2012 Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco

This excerpt is taken from Days of Revolt, Days of Destruction by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco (Nation Books), pp. 153-158.  All rights reserved.

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Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch (more...)

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