October 9, 2013
Photo via Al Jazeera.
Photo via Al Jazeera.

Seven people have just been killed in a Bangladeshi factory fire that police and fire officials say was started by a boiler, a claim contradicted by worker Muhammad Abu Saan’s statements that a knitting machine which had already caught fire multiple times previously went up in flames and spread to a warehouse. Naturally, representatives from companies like H&M and the Gap are already issuing denials of any relationship with the factory, despite being found in its order books.

The denials make our blood run particularly cold, given the fact that many major U.S. retailers including Walmart, The Gap, Kohl’s, and Nordstrom refused to sign a recent international agreement intended to improve conditions for factory workers, an agreement inspired by the Dhaka factory collapse this summer that killed over 1,000 people. There have been other Bangladesh factory fires recently as well, such as the one in late 2012 that resulted in 112 deaths and a finding of “gross negligence” on the part of the factory, which made goods for Walmart and Sears, among others.

The attitude that indiscriminately slaughtering people is fine as long as it’s non-white people outside of our own borders is as American as apple pie, at least according to our bloated war economy and utter disregard for the fact that workers are leaping out of burning buildings to their deaths for our $15 polka dot leggings. This disregard, of course, is exacerbated by the fact that we’re all indoctrinated since birth to collect as much SHIT as possible to show that we’re better than everyone, rather than band together for the collective good of all human beings. While there is no escaping blame for the consumer, the ephemeral notion of a brand in this country somehow makes it okay for businesses that have been, in some cases, absolutely and irrefutably exploiting wretched conditions and pithy compensation overseas for profit, to continue doing so unchecked.

Perhaps if, in the first place, there had been legislation in place to discourage the cheap mass outsourcing of once-domestic jobs, we wouldn’t be caught between this rock of consumerism and hard place of unethical supply-chain buck passing. People are, quite literally, being FIRED FROM LIFE in these factories. But hey, at least this YOLO hat was only $7.

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