Tuesday, May 05, 2020


A new op-ed from Charlie Warzel of The New York Times carries a provocative headline:
Will We Shrug Off Coronavirus Deaths as We Do Gun Violence?
Tell us all about this "we," Charlie.
The coronavirus scenario I can’t stop thinking about is the one where we simply get used to all the dying.

I first saw it on Twitter. “Someone poke holes in this scenario,” a tweet from Eric Nelson, the editorial director of Broadside Books, read. “We keep losing 1,000 to 2,000 a day to coronavirus. People get used to it. We get less vigilant as it very slowly spreads. By December we’re close to normal, but still losing 1,500 a day, and as we tick past 300,000 dead, most people aren’t concerned.” ...

There’s ... a national precedent for Mr. Nelson’s hypothetical: America’s response to gun violence and school shootings.

As a country, we seem resigned to preventable firearm deaths....

In every case, the death tolls climb but we fail to act. There are occasional marches and protests but mostly we continue on with our lives.
Again and again, the same word: we seem resigned ... we continue on with our lives.

Try this Charlie: We don't know what else to do. We've wept. We've marched. We've told pollsters that we support gun control laws in overwhelming numbers. We've elected Democrats in many locales where they haven't been able to win in decades.

And for the most part it does nothing, because Republicans have a stranglehold on our federal government, many of our state governments, and the federal courts. Where we can, we actually do something about gun violence: Virginia handed control of the state legislature to Democrats last year, and this year the legislators approved a significant package of gun control measures, which the Democratic governor signed into law last month.

You think we don't want to act? We want to act. Republicans don't.

And if there appears to be an increasing sense of indifference to the COVID-19 death toll, it's because Republicans, and the plutocrats to whom they answer, want us to shrug off the carnage. They want us to be indifferent to the fear and accepting of the lack of effective action to stop the virus's spread, especially at the federal level. They just want the economy up and running, and they don't care how many of us die in the process.

But we're not indifferent. We're scared.
Americans clearly oppose the reopening of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses, even as governors begin to lift restrictions that have kept the economy locked down in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.

... 67 percent say they would be uncomfortable shopping at a retail clothing store, and 78 percent would be uncomfortable eating at a sit-down restaurant. People in states with looser restrictions report similar levels of discomfort as those in states with stricter rules.

... when asked about eight different types of businesses, majorities of Americans say they oppose ending the restrictions on each of the eight.

The Post-U. Md. poll asked about the following types of businesses: gun stores, dine-in restaurants, nail salons, barbershops and hair salons, retail establishments such as clothing stores, along with gyms, golf courses and movie theaters.
A new Monmouth poll has similar results:
When it comes to reopening the country, Americans are more concerned that states will start lifting restrictions too quickly (63%) rather than not quickly enough (29%). The public prefers that any such decision be based more on public health concerns than economic ones. Specifically, 56% say the more important factor in deciding whether to lift current restrictions should be making sure as few people as possible get sick from the coronavirus. Just 33% say making sure the economy does not go into a deep and lengthy downturn should be more important.
But in much of the country it's been decided that the minority of Americans who feel otherwise should decide what we do next. That's what Republican officeholders and their patrons want, so that's what's happening.

Warzel's op-ed contains 1,321 words. Not one of them is Republican. Instead, he portrays the GOP's view as that of the country.
But unlike many Western and Asian countries that are moving slowly to reopen and telling their citizens hard truths about the months ahead, the United States seems fixated on returning to normal, despite warnings from public health experts that it is too soon. As with gun violence, the data medical professionals and governments are relying on during the pandemic is piecemeal. And, as with gun violence, we throw up our hands and deem it intractable.
(Emphasis added.)

Ultimately, Warzel acknowledges that our approach to the pandemic is being determined by a minority.
Last summer, before touring the sites of two mass shootings that killed 31 people in 24 hours, Mr. Trump argued that there was “no political appetite” for a ban on assault weapons, though a majority of Americans support one.

Those remarks bear resemblance to the president’s March comments that the coronavirus lockdowns were perhaps too onerous and that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.” His “LIBERATE” tweets in support of the lockdown protesters suggested a similar lack of appetite to do the hard thing, even as national polls revealed that Americans are deeply concerned about their safety and worried about reopening.

... As in the gun control debate, public opinion, public health and the public good seem poised to lose out to select set of personal freedoms.
But whose set of personal freedoms is it? It's not just Trump's. Name the people responsible.
... In this narrow worldview, freedom has a price, in the form of an “acceptable” number of human lives lost. It’s a price that will be calculated and then set by a select few. The rest of us merely pay it.
"A select few"? Who are they?

They're Republicans, that's who they are. Name them.

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