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The Other Virus

Last week was about as intense as it gets. Caught between a merciless virus and the cessation of social activity, beneath the surface calm lies a persistent tension ready to erupt. The anxiety was underscored by the two main religious mythologies that drive segments of our culture, the Passover and the Crucifixion/Resurrection of Jesus. The Passover evokes images of an angel of death splattering blood on the lintels of Israelites’ homes so that they might escape the wrath of the murdering Pharaoh. The crucifixion of Jesus sets before us a horrifying image of death at the hand of political and economic power. The stories have good endings: the Passover culminates in the Exodus, whereby the Hebrews escape Pharaoh’s chariots of death, and the cross of Jesus is overcome by the new life that emerges. Our problem today is that we are living between the two moments, before the good ending, when the resolution is not yet obvious.

We have been renewed in our awareness of interconnectedness and our capacity to sacrifice and love one another, and this is a very healthy re-discovery. But coupled with this knowledge we also have become painfully aware that there are those at high levels of power who act more like Pharaoh and Pontius Pilate than the caregivers they were supposed to be. Economist Paul Krugman recently articulated the sources of his own concerns, of which there are three. One is the virus itself, destroying the health and indeed life itself of so many. This is accompanied by the total societal upheaval required by attempts to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus. Lastly, this upheaval poses a severe threat to our democratic institutions. It is this last which worries him the most. There will be a vaccine, and the economy will rebound, but once democracy is lost, it might never return and could be lost forever.

Lest there be any doubt, Krugman is referring to Trump, his lackeys, and all Republicans who focus now on gaining power rather than providing service. Although the list is not inclusive, and grows daily, please allow me to support his fears, which are real and tangible.

To begin with the latest, Trump now wants to fire Dr. Fauci because he told the truth about more people dying because Trump procrastinated for political purposes. Trump thought perhaps we should have allowed the virus to rampage and have it over with, regardless of how many would die. Republican elected officials suggest that those dead were old and infirm and would have died anyway, so it’s no great loss, and, by the way, saves a lot of money. No doubt it was and is this attitude working in the minds of those who refuse to expand health insurance. Even Neanderthals, whom we love to denigrate, cared for their sick and wounded. What we have in America is not a clown for a president, but a murderer, not a fiscally conservative party, but a party of death and greed.

Protective equipment for health care workers is doled out by Trump to those governors who are his lackeys, and refused to governors, both Democratic and Republican, who are critical. The economic relief bill puts an inspector general in charge of overseeing how 2 trillion dollars is distributed, but Trump has fired him.

The Republican senate continues to confirm incompetent Trump nominations for judgeships. The gerrymandered state of Wisconsin, where Republicans get 56% of the representation with only 36% of the vote, refuses to allow -last week- to extend mail-in voting, thereby forcing people to stand in line for hours, wearing masks hoping that they would not become infected. And this supported by the US Supreme Court, 5-4, after McConnell refused for a full year to even allow a vote on Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the court. All the while, voters are illegally removed from registration rolls and foreign countries are invited to interfere in our elections, doing so with impunity. Under the leadership of Barr, the Justice Department has just announced that the FBI will be investigated for investigating Trump’s Russia connection.

On and on. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said repeatedly in his pressroom that when a crisis hits us, the true mettle of people will come out. Those who love and are strong will shine. And those who are weak and/or evil (my word) will also be seen for who they are. We have two visions for America. One controlled by the Pharaohs and Pilates of our time, happy to sacrifice the sick and the poor for the sake of the stock market, the other manifest in all those who value service and compassion, strong in their love. There is no confusion on this. The battle lines are clear.

I think that we all know this, and that is why we are ready to explode. Yes, there is a great deal of fear created by the virus. Will we or our loved ones get sick, or even die? The economic aftershock is equally worrying. My business is destroyed. My retirement fund is wiped out. Will we be able to eat and find shelter? And beneath it all is the increasing feeling that not only is our president and his following totally incompetent, but that they also looking out for themselves and not the American people. As such, they too are a virus, dealing death and destruction. With the power that comes in the knowledge that love wins, we cannot allow that to happen.

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