I have revised this post because I want to flesh it out some more. As I said before, this week, I am beginning to think ahead, as I reflect. From where I am sitting, I have a lot of questions. This one may require another cup of coffee. Settle in. The lockdown is still outside my window in Paris. SO, if you want/need to go to the beach or the bowling alley, this one is not for you. It is one from my heart and as political as I have gotten to date. Sorry. We both knew it was coming. I just was not sure WHEN.
Our first reopening (in France) happens on Monday, May 11 – one week from tomorrow. I was able to buy my first mask at the Pharmacie yesterday. (long story). What is next? I don’t know. “I hesitate to speculate.”
I am discouraged to see and hear and read about what is happening in my home country. – the USA. It is easier (and feels safer, for now) to see what is happening from over here in Paris. I am subject to the beat of another drummer, here in France. AND, I am outside looking in re: the USA As such, I hear international commentary as well as commentary in the USA. First of all, it is obvious that EVERYONE wants someone to blame. Social media is the worst.
Even if it were possible to find the source actually responsible for this pandemic, it would not eliminate the pandemic. That is factual data, not “fake news” (everyone’s go-to target). Not everything is fake. A “fake” faker. A lot of it can be verified. Like what??
Antietam, bloodiest day of Civil War: 2100 Americans dead; 1918 Pandemic: 675,000 Americans dead; Battle of the Bulge, the bloodiest single battle the US fought in WWII: 19,000 Americans dead; Vietnam War: 58,000 Americans dead; September 11: 2,977 Americans dead.
Coronavirus Pandemic on May 1, 2020: 65,000 Americans dead.
When I watch the news each night, I am amazed that in France and in the USA (plus, the world, in general) , I hear warnings about a “second wave” that may peak in the fall during the flu season. In France, we are just getting better from the first wave. In the USA, the first wave is still peaking. A lot of people are dying but no one knows how many because most states are not counting. They have NOT successfully lived through the worst part of the pandemic. On the contrary, states are reopening because of the economy. Not because anyone is dying. Not important. WHAT????????
In fact, all of these deaths are helping the economy. WHAT?????? A member of a planning commission from the San Francisco area (I have been informed by an attorney colleague that the member of the planning commission is not from San Francisco city of county. He is a planning commissioner in the small city of Antioch, an East Bay city in Contra Costa County, north of Oakland.) and he took to Facebook to suggest we should just let coronavirus take its course. Lots of people would die, he wrote, primarily old and sick people, but that would take the pressure off Social Security and lower health care costs. There would be more jobs and housing available. And as for homeless people, when they died it would “fix what is a significant burden on our society….” WHAT???????? African Americans and Native Americans are badly susceptible to Covid-19. Some groups are celebrating these deaths, and calling for their supporters to infect minorities with the virus. WHAT??????? Germ Warfare????? Americans killing Americans? Is America doing what Germany did? 1/3 of Americans are killing 1/3 of Americans while 1/3 of Americans watch? Have we learned NOTHING from history? WHAT??????????????
Many people I know are demanding society to open up again even though it will disproportionately kill some Americans at higher rates than others. Do people now believe that some people matter more than others? Do older Americans (ME!!), Black Americans, Brown Americans, sick Americans, all matter less than healthy white Americans? Today, they do, according to the narrative I am hearing and reading and observing. I am a potential sacrifice. Any one of us is a potential sacrifice if we disagree with what “the leader” says – whoever he/she is.
Otherwise, it is tyranny. “Quarantine is when you restrict the movement of sick people; Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people”. WHAT????? Hello!!! DO you know anything about tyranny – “a state under cruel and oppressive government? Is it cruel and oppressive not to open beaches, not to be able to get your hair done, not to be able to get your nails done, not be able to bowl or get a tattoo, or not be able to go back to work? READ HISTORY!!!
Do people know anything about history? Or care? Life will teach us all. I don’t claim to know it all, but it is difficult to watch the carnage caused by stupidity and selfishness. “Rights” and freedoms” don’t exist unless there is a Constitution.
People want state governors to bend to political pressure and State Governors who don’t bend to political pressure are wrong for trying to save lives. The ECONOMY is more important!!!! What????? People’s lives are not important???? Well, if you think people’s lives are not important, then you must be a healthy, white American and NOT a potential sacrifice.
OK. You think people’s lives are not worth the economy because you are healthy, white, American, and not a potential sacrifice, and you are willing to take the risk because you think you are in good shape. Well, congratulations!! You are well-positioned. As luck would have it, Trump is the “Vector-in -Chief”. AND, if you want to kill yourself (because of stupidity), there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Indeed, in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the question of when and how the nation’s economy should be reopened, the USA seems to have tapped the U.S. Strategic Stupid Reserve. Read history books about pandemics and tyrannical governments. See what happened. Does what happened before your lifetime not matter?????
I read an excellent article this morning that started out with some history. “On July 4, 1775, just his second day serving as commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary forces, George Washington issued strict orders to prevent the spread of infection among his soldiers: “No person is to be allowed to go to Fresh-water pond a fishing or any other occasion as there may be a danger of introducing the small pox into the army.” As he wrote later that month to the president of the Continental Congress, John Hancock, he was exercising “the utmost Vigilance against this most dangerous Enemy.” What was happening 1775 that prompted George Washington and John Hancock to say this. Do you know?
Frankly, I don’t think my opinions will cause much change in my friends and family and colleagues and acquaintances. And, most of the time, I keep my opinions to myself when I am out and about. But, as I said before, I am angry and it is painful to watch the carnage that is and will be because of bad decisions and short-sightedness.
Is there anything I can do about it? Maybe. I am looking for ways to serve in some capacity. I am looking for ways. I don’t have answers at this time. I think that (other than a Jayspeak “rant”) talking and complaining and accusing and fighting is not something I can do. I am doing what I can to stay alive. I am obviously dispensable. I am pretty good at blaming. Haha. Aren’t we all!! The problem is I am an action-prone Pollyanna.
I follow a writer – Heather Cox Richardson – and enjoy her daily posts from which I learn a lot while helping me to make sense of what I see and hear in the news. I find her to have an objective viewpoint and want to share selections from her posts from yesterday and today. I have cherry-picked what I want to include here. I give up trying to persuade family members and good friends to think the way I do. It is not going to happen. But, I want to clarify my own thinking so that I enjoy whatever I can during these turbulent times.
“Jeff Kowalsky’s photograph of the “American Patriot Rally” at the Michigan statehouse on April 30 shows a large, bearded man, leaning forward, mouth open, screaming. Positioned between two police officers who are staring blankly ahead above their masks, he is focused on something they are preventing him from reaching: the legislature. His fury is palpable. The idea that such a man is an “American Patriot” is the perverted outcome of a generations of political rhetoric that has celebrated a cartoon version of “individualism.” That rhetoric has served a purpose: to convince voters that an active government that regulates business, provides a basic social safety net, and promotes infrastructure—things most Americans actually like—is socialism.
Americans embraced an active government in the 1930s and 1940s to combat the Depression and fight World War Two, and by 1945, that government was hugely popular among members of both parties, but not with the businessmen who resented government interference in their industries. To get voters to turn against a system they liked, in the 1950s, leaders eager to destroy business regulation linked their mission to racism.
After the Supreme Court, headed by former Republican Governor of California Earl Warren, unanimously ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional, reactionaries determined to undercut the New Deal government told voters that this is what they had warned about all along: an activist state would redistribute white people’s money to black people through taxes, levied to do things like provide schools, or the troops necessary to protect the black youngsters trying to enroll in them.
That rhetoric resonated with certain white Americans because it echoed that of Reconstruction, when Democrats opposed to black rights insisted that Republican policies to level the playing field between formerly enslaved people and their white former owners were simply a redistribution of wealth. Money for roads and schools and hospitals that would now be accessible to black Americans would have to be paid for by tax levies. Since most property owners in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War were white, this meant a transfer of wealth from hardworking white taxpayers to lazy African Americans. As one reporter put it: socialism had come to South Carolina.
In contrast to the East, with this crushing system, stood the postwar West, where Democrats admired the cowboy. The actual work of a western cowboy in the short period of the heyday of cattle ranging from 1866 to 1886 was dangerous, low-paid, and dirty; the industry depended heavily on government supported-railroads and military support; and a third of the cowboys were men of color. But people eager to criticize the Republicans’ social welfare policies insisted that the cowboy was the true American individualist. Almost always white in this myth, he wanted nothing from government but to work hard as he tamed the land and the “savages” on it, provide for the wife and children he someday hoped to have, and be left alone. The image of the cowboy became such a dominant myth during Reconstruction that it turned Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show into the nation’s first mass entertainment spectacle.
It was no wonder then, that in the 1950s and 1960s, those eager to destroy an active government tapped into the image of the American cowboy as their symbol. Gunsmoke debuted on the new-fangled television in 1955, and by 1959, there were 30 prime time Westerns on TV. These westerns portrayed the mythical cowboy much as he had been after the Civil War: an independent white man fighting the “savages” of the plains to provide for his eventual family. A man who wanted nothing of government but to be left alone.
Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, with his square jaw and white Stetson, tapped into this mythology as the Republican presidential candidate in 1964. He assured white southerners that the adjustment of race relations was an unlawful assumption of power by the federal government. So, too, was business regulation. Goldwater lost the election, but turned five deep South states from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, a pattern Ronald Reagan capitalized on in 1980. Swapping his usual English riding outfit for jeans and a western saddle, Reagan personified the mythological American cowboy. He assured Americans that “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem,” then began the process of dismantling the New Deal state, slashing taxes and programs to restore to glory the American individualist.
Reagan’s election saw the first gender gap in American voting, as women hesitated to sign on to a program that was working against their ability to provide for their families. Lots of men weren’t so sure they wanted to slash workers’ protections and government regulation of business, either. So those eager to reinforce the image of the American individualist against a socialist government upped their game. In 1984, we got Red Dawn, the bloodiest movie made up to that point, featuring high school boys in the West standing against an invasion of communists after the town government sells everyone out.
In 1992, the idea of a western individualist standing against an intrusive government got a real demonstration when government forces tried to arrest a former factory worker, Randy Weaver, who had failed to show up for a trial on a firearms charge, at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. An 11-day siege killed Weaver’s wife, fourteen-year-old son, and a deputy marshal. Far-right activists and neo-Nazis swarmed to Ruby Ridge to stop what they saw as the overreach of government as it attacked a man protecting his family. The next year, government officers stormed the compound of a religious cult whose former members reported that their leader, David Koresh, was stockpiling weapons. A 51-day siege ended on April 19, 1993, in a gun battle and a fire that killed 76 people. Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh told his listeners that the government had invaded Waco to “murder” a citizen. The modern militia movement to protect individuals from government tyranny took off.
Now, having sown the wind, we are reaping the whirlwind. Anti-government cowboys are protesting the tyranny of government measures designed to protect citizens from dying. The right of governors and legislatures to protect health is well-established, of course, but that doesn’t matter to men steeped in the rhetoric of the past generation. This now-famous image of the screaming “American Patriot” is a portrait of the failure of the individualist image. This is a man who punches down, not up, and who wants to have the power to decide whether his neighbors live or die. He is a bully and a coward. You know who’s brave? The doctors and nurses who get up every morning and go to their jobs. The bus drivers who have continued to work without either hazard pay or sufficient protection, at least 94 of whom we have lost to Covid-19. The janitors and housekeeping staff who combat the virus all day, every day. The meat cutters and fishermen, shippers, drivers and store clerks who are keeping us alive, some only because it is the only way they can feed their children, which makes it all the braver. The Navy sailors trying to contain the virus so they can complete their mission. The teachers who stay upbeat for the students they terribly miss. The parents who are so very tired as they try to work and teach and parent and shop, but who get up every morning and do it again. And, yes, the political leaders trying to legislate to protect us as a handful of screaming anti-government activists terrorize them… and the photographers who record it. These true American Patriots– not a screaming bully whose “rights” require others to die– are the very good people Abraham Lincoln meant when he called for a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
As a wrap, I was born in 1937. My kids were born in the 1960’s. This narrative chronicles the times during which I lived. NOT MY KIDS. I held hands with my boyfriend, watching Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry in westerns at the Ritz Theatre in Gainesville, Georgia. Everyone I knew was a “Democrat”. “Republican” was a dirty word. I later acted in those westerns – Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Centennial. I was in school and a young actress and an attorney (fighting bullies) during all of those elections and presidents. After I moved west, I voted for the person I liked – whatever party. My children’s father was involved and possibly sacrificed for what he knew during Reagan years. I remember Ruby Ridge and Waco. This is up close and personal to me. I will NEVER understand why young people think their “freedoms” come to them “by right”. Don’t they still teach the Constitution in schools anymore?
I will close with some of Heather’s thoughts from yesterday for you to think about (if you are willing) and are still reading this post. We are creating today’s history. Will it be re-written? Do we care? Did the Romans care? Did the Greeks? Is the history we read accurate? Did George Washington really say that? Is this really a “pandemic”? Is it a hoax? Is it a conspiracy? We may never know. Truth? What is actually true? Is what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears really true? Is it what our leaders say is true? Is this classic gaslighting? Do you know what that is?
“Where are the tax returns Trump promised to release? Where are the investigations of any of the l“iterally dozens of accusations of rape and sexual assault made against Trump? Where is John Bolton’s book? Why is everyone who worked for Trump bound to secrecy? And key: where are the medical supplies the federal government has seized? Why is the use of Tara Reade’s accusation to controlling the political narrative? Why is Biden to jumping through hoops and on the defensive?”
Sorry for this insert, but, Hey, I can use/need the help.