Dying Hand In Hand: Why The COVID-19 Crisis and Mass Shootings Are So American
It’s July 25th. Some Americans are shaking their heads with disbelief. Other Americans are shaking their heads with conviction. Simultaneously, 1,000 Americans are suffocating to death at a peak, daily rate. Again.
Most of the rest of the world is shaking their heads, too. They are confused as to why America, a former world leader, (including in previous pandemic responses), under its current administration, refuses to implement a comprehensive, national plan. The medical science is clear and there are models of other countries that have effectively addressed the virus. The necessary components are evident: hand washing/hygiene practices, consistent mask wearing, social distancing, comprehensive testing with prompt feedback, effective treatment, and contact tracing to isolate and suppress the spread. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Countries that have responded properly are opening back up; their children are pivoted to return relatively safely to school in the fall; their economies have a better chance of recovery. In contrast, the pandemic has been unmanaged and politicalized in America to the point of lethal chaos, including economic insecurity-to-demise for the majority. We Americans continue to shake our heads and die. Sadly, there is seemingly more public concern about mask mandates than the death toll of our fellow citizens.
As Europe and much of the world look toward America, there is disbelief, criticism, pity, and questions. Americans are unwilling to work together to take the basic steps to get the virus under control? Personal freedoms and political divisiveness are more important than short and long-term collective good? Americans don’t see the long-term consequences of economic and societal collapse connected to prioritizing personal freedoms and 50 state-by-state variable responses with permeable borders? It’s mind-boggling. And heart-wrenching, too, yes? Except, it is also somewhat resonant. When else has the rest of the world looked at America with confusion, questions, and pity? After every mass shooting.
All the ingredients are there, too. Imagine any day in America: kindergarten to high-school-age students in their classes, people going to the movies, or shopping at a mall or Walmart, attending a concert in Las Vegas, or gathering in church — until a mass shooter arrives and kills as many as he can. The list of mass shootings in America is long and will be longer still. We know the drill. Every time, the death tolls and horrific details flood the news, our politicians robotically offer their “thoughts and prayers.” These ‘words on the wind’ are code for: we aren’t going to do anything meaningful about this public safety crisis, even though a majority of Americans support legislative action and preserving essential gun rights.
Instead, the 2nd Amendment is manipulated for political gain to get designated voters to the polls to form a necessary, larger voting block. The human carnage incurred is an acceptable sacrifice to the corporate-backed politicians playing gridlock in D.C. The message is clear: Americans are dispensable, even kindergarteners. Twenty years of mass shootings have desensitized Americans, providing the foundation for accepting COVID-19 death tolls. Narratives surrounding personal freedoms can be manipulated for political purposes. It’s nothing new.
As of today there have been, 4,024,492 Americans infected with the virus, and 143,868 deaths. Since yesterday, there are 72,219 new cases confirmed. Trump’s primary concern regarding COVID-19 appears to be the optics necessary for his re-election. Likewise, he seems more concerned that his performance at the Republican Convention has been cancelled, rather than the daily death and infection data. That he continues to state that the real problem is too much testing (implying less testing would solve the problem )— an essential tool for identification, treatment, and containment of the virus — demonstrates just how little he comprehends about the pandemic and how little he cares for afflicted Americans.
No surprise: an empathetic narcissist is an oxymoron.
Seven months into this pandemic and his primary “leadership” skill set continues to be: denial, misdirection, fomenting divisiveness, delusion (e.g., “it will magically go away” and like mantras), and choices/behaviors counter to CDC recommendations (e.g., not wearing a mask, gathering a mass of people together in Oklahoma and wanting to hold other rallies, shaking hands, and not social distancing in public appearances, etc.) In parallel, the virus is apolitical and thrives on lies, inaction, and incompetence. Go figure: viruses are as true to themselves, as narcissists.
Maybe everyone, including the beleaguered, face-palming, Dr. Fauci, should talk to Trump in golf parlance* (as Trump takes golf seriously) and see if this helps him to better understand the escalating crisis. Fauci could start with fore!* to focus his limited attention. Then tell Trump, we are past hole #6 of the pandemic and the turn* has been a killer. And maybe he shouldn’t be such a hacker*, who made a duff* by lingering in denial, bemoaning and discouraging safety protocols, all while refusing to unify our citizenry in order to implement a coherent, national response.
Or maybe, we need to acknowledge Trump’s on a private green in Trumpland, in his own irreality tv show where he plays a president faced with a repeated unplayable lie*, and the other branches of government need to step up immediately to spare the nation. As Rebecca Solnit, writes in A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise In Disaster, “Disaster doesn’t sort us out by preferences; it drags us into emergencies that require we act, and act altruistically, bravely, and with initiative in order to survive or save the neighbors, no matter how we vote or what we do for a living.”
We are in a flagrant, escalating national emergency. How many more of us need to die before we come together as citizens first and demand our federal representatives take collective, nonpartisan action, to save ourselves, each other, and our nation? We need to reject the “thoughts and prayers”-like political side-step and the autocratic grab of sending federal agents into major cities to strong-arm racial justice protests. We the People, have the collective capacity to recover from the desensitization of human carnage from two decades of mass shootings and exported, permanent war, on top of 400 years of racial genocide and injustice. It’s time to stop shaking our heads and act.
The challenge to our democracy is viral. The stakes are high. And tomorrow — 1,000 more Americans will die.
What are we willing to do?
Fore: A warning call/shout yelled out by a player when their shot threatens another player. Ex: “watch out”
Turn: After the 9th hole, ie the halfway point on a golf course, where you ‘turn’ for home.
Hacker: A mediocre or poor golfer who displays bad golf etiquette and/or poor sportsmanship.
Duff: A horrible shot.
Unplayable Lie: A lie in which the ball is impossible to play such as in a thicket of tree.