Sunday, May 3, 2020

Here's How I See the Response to the Pandemic Playing Out Now in the United States: People Who Will Pay Highest Price for "Re-Opening" Are the Vulnerable, Elderly, Poor, Minorities

Here's how I see things playing out now: the "re-opening" process is going to be more or less the norm across the US. We Americans are never long-term thinkers, in any case. We like frenzy and mobility and things to do. We also don't have a solidaristic bone in our bodies: it's all about individualism and (my) liberties.

We also will not have any choice about the "re-opening" as long as we permit armed white men to terrorize targeted governors and legislatures — to target all of us — and force us to do their bidding. Because they say so and they have the guns in their hands.

The tacit agreement driving the re-opening process is that lives of the elderly, the infirm and vulnerable, minorities, workers performing services deemed necessary without protection, should be viewed as unfortunately dispensable to get things (i.e., profit machines) going again.

That leaves many of us — I speak particularly as someone who is 70 and diabetic — on our own. We will have to fend for ourselves as best we can. The virus has not gone away and is not going away. In fact, some states now "re-opening" are recording their highest daily death tolls yet.

A large percentage of Americans don't want to know that people are dying, and that our selfishness in pushing for a "re-opening" before it's safe to make that move — because we want our usual comforts and "freedoms" — is connected to those folks dying. As long as those deaths are not occurring right in front of us, we can pretend they are not happening, even pretend this has all been a hoax.

Like the Germans who claimed all through the Holocaust that it wasn't happening, that those death camps had nothing to do with ordinary German citizens, that they were just work camps, in any case….

The "re-opening" will inevitably produce a new spike in infections, but many of us will pretend that, too, is not happening — and more and more government officials will blatantly lie to us about the numbers. The media will collude in the lying by shifting the narrative to, oh, did Biden do it or did he not, and why won't he open his papers (never mind that Trump has disclosed zilch and the same media have given him a pass).

Years down the road — if there is any kind of meaningful future after all of this — researchers and historians will begin putting the pieces together, looking at the actual numbers of those who died in these months and comparing them to the "official" tallies, and it will be obvious that many, many more of us died than our officials ever told us about. It will be obvious that we have been lied and lied to, and that the people who paid the highest price are the same ones who always pay the highest price — the weak, the old, the poor, minorities.

But as long as those who are dying are elderly folks in nursing homes, people in prison, members of minority communities who have no choice except to work at dangerous jobs like processing meat, we'll look the other way and pretend that those deaths are not happening — that they don't count. Because the people to whom the deaths are happening don't count.

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