Monday, December 13, 2021


This smug piece of garbage was meant to get me angry, and it worked. I hope the editors of The Atlantic are proud gthat they published it:

Are you concerned that 800,000 Americans have died of COVID? If so, Walther is here to tell you you're a doily-sniffing elitist:
In November, my wife asked me whether I had seen an article with the remarkable headline “Is It Safe to Go to Thanksgiving Dinner?”

“Is that from last year?” I asked.

“No, it’s a few days old,” she said, her voice sinking to a growling murmur. “These people.”

I am old enough to remember the good old days when holiday-advice pieces were all variations on “How to Talk to Your Tea Party Uncle About Obamacare.” As Christmas approaches, we can look forward to more of this sort of thing, with the meta-ethical speculation advanced to an impossibly baroque stage of development. Is it okay for our 2-year-old son to hug Grandma at a Christmas party if she received her booster only a few days ago? Should the toddler wear a mask except when he is slopping mashed potatoes all over his booster seat? Our oldest finally attended her first (masked) sleepover with other fully vaccinated 10-year-olds, but one of them had a sibling test positive at day care. Should she stay home or wear a face shield? What about Omicron?

I don’t know how to put this in a way that will not make me sound flippant: No one cares. Literally speaking, I know that isn’t true, because if it were, the articles wouldn’t be commissioned. But outside the world inhabited by the professional and managerial classes in a handful of major metropolitan areas, many, if not most, Americans are leading their lives as if COVID is over, and they have been for a long while.
You don't need to boast, Matthew. We know that much of America has been living as if COVID doesn't exist. And that's why the death toll is up to 800,000. Not that you give a shit, because it doesn't include you, anyone in your immediate family, or, apparently, anyone you know.

Walther has the luxury of living in a community with low population density.
In my part of rural southwest Michigan, and in similar communities throughout the country, this is true not despite but without any noticeable regard for cases; hospitalization statistics, which are always high this time of year without attracting much notice; or death reports. I don’t mean to deny COVID’s continuing presence. (For the purposes of this piece, I looked up the COVID data for my county and found that the seven-day average for positive tests is as high as it has ever been, and that 136 deaths have been attributed to the virus since June 2020.) What I wish to convey is that the virus simply does not factor into my calculations or those of my neighbors, who have been forgoing masks, tests (unless work imposes them, in which case they are shrugged off as the usual BS from human resources), and other tangible markers of COVID-19’s existence for months—perhaps even longer.
I bet those 136 deaths factor into some residents' calculations of something -- the cruelty of fate, the mercy (or lack thereof) of the God they undoubtedly believe in. It's possible that some of them think that the precautions they're hearing about from us evil elitist city slickers make sense and might have saved their loved ones, but they're reluctant to stand out in a community that treats rational concern about a sometimes deadly and often debilitating disease as woke nonsense.

Like many conservatives, especially rural ones, Walther is living in a bubble as impervious as the one he thinks we left-leaning urbanites live in. Not only does he see city-dwellers as comic stereotypes rather than human beings, he also doesn't see concerned suburbanites at all. Everyone is exactly like him, or is a posh fool living in a penthouse.

Walther has had a fairly charmed pandemic.
In 2020, I took part in two weddings, traveled extensively, took family vacations with my children, spent hundreds of hours in bars and restaurants, all without wearing a mask. This year my wife and I welcomed our fourth child....

COVID is invisible to me except when I am reading the news, in which case it strikes me with all the force of reports about distant coups in Myanmar.
He got lucky while traveling, but for the most part he's what some in the military would call an REMF -- a rear-echelon motherfucker, someone who's far from the front lines and thus far from danger, and is oblivious to conditions for those who are taking incoming.

But he knows better than the experts.
I am always tempted to ask the people who breathlessly quote what various public-health authorities are now saying about masking and boosters whether they know how the National Institutes of Health defines a “problem drinker”? The answer is a woman who has more than one “unit” of alcohol a day, i.e., my wife and nearly all of my female friends. These same authorities, if asked, would probably say that considerable risks are associated with eating crudos or kibbeh nayyeh, or taking Tylenol after a hangover. (This is to say nothing of cannabis, which is of course still banned at the federal level.)
That bit about cannabis is odd, because Walther has written op-eds for the New York Post with titles such as "Pols are rolling over for Big Pot, having learned nothing from opioids" and "Big Weed’s meteoric rise is a sad symbol of Rust Belt decline." But I guess on this subject he's like Congresswoman Nancy Mace, who recently praised COVID vaccines on CNN and denounced them on Fox.

I can't tell you how old Walther is, but to judge from his photos, the answer is "not very."

He clearly won't see my age -- 62 -- for a couple of decades, so I'm sure he just laughs off this New York Times story:
As U.S. Nears 800,000 Virus Deaths, 1 of Every 100 Older Americans Has Perished

... Seventy-five percent of people who have died of the virus in the United States — or about 600,000 of the nearly 800,000 who have perished so far — have been 65 or older. One in 100 older Americans has died from the virus. For people younger than 65, that ratio is closer to 1 in 1,400.

The heightened risk for older people has dominated life for many, partly as friends and family try to protect them. “You get kind of forgotten," said Pat Hayashi, 65, of San Francisco. “In the pandemic, the isolation and the loneliness got worse. We lost our freedom and we lost our services.”
Walther's answer to Pat Hayashi is: Nobody cares. Next time there's a pandemic, don't be in your sixties. Or, to him, Hayashi doesn't exist at all.

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