A building housing several factories making clothing for European and American consumers collapsed into a deadly heap on Wednesday, killing at least 108 workers and injuring at least 1,000 people. The catastrophe comes only five months after a horrific fire at a similar facility prompted leading multinational brands to pledge to work to improve safety in the country’s booming but poorly regulated garment industry. (Photo: AM Ahad / AP via The New York Times; caption via The Times)
I don’t think any good can be accomplished by me taking a strident outraged tone here, so I’m trying to keep it even-keeled, but here’s what’s up: 108 people are dead because people were cutting corners to save money. Terrorism is awful, lots of things are awful. One thing that’s awful and which costs lives, real lives, innocent lives, all the time, is when profit motive is placed ahead of the safety of the workers who have made the companies profitable. “Four Building Codes Violated To Save Money, Scores Dead; Need For Cheap Labor Cited” doesn’t have the headline glamor that bombs and guns bring to the table, and I’m not saying that stories of sudden nightmare violence shouldn’t be covered; the news only responds to the demands of its viewers. It’s on us as viewers and readers to say that when something like the collapse of Rana Plaza occurs, this, too, is an act of cruel and unimaginable violence, and its causes and culprits should be as vigorously pursued and investigated as the lone-wolf supervillains who command our attention from time to time.