If we lose our sanity …
We can but howl the lugubrious howl of idiots,
the howl of the utterly lost
howling their nowhereness. ~ D.H. Lawrence, “At Last”
I knew this train would be coming down the tracks long before I saw it, long before I heard the whistle or felt those faint vibrations that they say you can feel by touching the rails. I have to say that it took a little longer than I’d expected. I figured it would be just a week or two but kooks being unpredictable by nature stagger to the beat of their own broken drums. As soon as the shelter in place orders went out over a month ago I knew that sooner or later there would be a backlash. And when I say as soon as, I mean I called it the very day that Gavin Newsom announced California’s shelter in place back on March 19th, an order meant to try and get a handle on COVID-19. I even correctly predicted the makeup of the agitators.
What I didn’t predict was that these people would actually take to the streets, block traffic and flout the social distancing and face mask provisions. I expected to see the backlash come in the form of ravings on social media. But there they were last week, in the streets of Lansing, Michigan protesting that state’s own shelter in place and travel restrictions set up by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Stupidity isn’t a localized phenomenon and as one would expect the protests spread to other states including Virginia, Colorado, Texas and my own state of California among others. Since it’s been spreading, ironically enough, like a virus we should give it a name – let’s call it IDVID-20, shorthand for IDiot-VIrus-Disease-2020.
The protests, as I predicted on day one are made up largely of the “freedom isn’t free,” “give me liberty or give me death,” nuts that are often seen waving the old Gadsden flag. I’m pretty certain that most of these yahoos on parade out there don’t know who said “Give me liberty or give me death,” and couldn’t tell you what the Gadsden flag is (for the record it was Patrick Henry at the 2nd Virginia convention in 1775, and the Gadsden flag is the yellow banner depicting a coiled snake and the slogan Don’t Tread on Me). What the IDVID-20 crowd knows is that both the quotation and the flag are somehow affiliated with the American Revolution and by god they’re going to revolt if it kills them – which it very well might. The problem of course is that COVID-19 doesn’t distinguish between science deniers and the rest of society meaning that prancing around the streets shoulder to shoulder with your fellow loonies doesn’t exempt the innocent from catching whatever brews in those crowds. Not particularly a concern to the protesters because after all you can’t transmit a virus that really doesn’t exist.
While I didn’t expect our 21st century revolutionaries to actually hit the streets, when they actually did I wasn’t at all surprised to see them armed with the usual trappings; MAGA hats and signs, American flags (the winner’s flag) and Confederate flags (the loser’s flag, in both senses of the word). I suppose that they left their tri-cornered hats, Continental Army uniforms and muskets in the closet but I did see some men who showed up flashing semi-automatic rifles. What purpose the rifles served I’m not sure. I guess because if you show up flashing your penis you’ll get arrested but if you flash the substitute, your AR, then you’re on solid 2nd amendment ground. It’s always the same guys, Rambos in their own little minds who show up toting their guns at a place where you don’t need a gun.
“I’m off to the protest dear.”
“You’re bringing your AR?”
“Sure am. Ya never know when there might be trouble a brewin.”
“But the rest of the country is in lockdown. It’s just you and you’re kooky, I mean, you and your friends.”
“I’ll bring it anyway. You never know about those lockdown loonies. Being cooped up can make you crazy.”
“That’s true. Better bring a few extra clips just in case. Be careful out there. Oh and don’t forget your John Wayne lunchbox.”
Another thing that I didn’t expect was that these protests and illegal actions would have the full backing of your (not my) President of the United States. Not only did he endorse the protests he helped incite them with tweets, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”, “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” and LIBERATE VIRGINIA. Wait, what am I saying? How could I not expect Trump to issue his stamp of approval? This is all part of his sick playbook.
This whole bizarre scene is so rife with ironies that it’s hard to know where to start but I’ll give it a go.
The initial Michigan protest was named “Operation Gridlock” and was meant to effectively shut down the streets leading to the capitol, and that it did. Keep in mind that these are the same people who got indignant when Black Lives Matter protests shut down public streets. An extra bonus irony is that by not practicing the safe protocols demanded by COVID-19 regulations these protesters who during the BLM protests howled “all lives matter,” have apparently decided that maybe lives, those of others, don’t really matter all that much when it comes to being inconvenienced.
In a case of hilarious irony I saw photos of men, MEN, wearing t-shirts emblazoned “My body, my choice.”
IDVID-20 social media brims with references to the American Revolution, a war fought in rebellion against a British King. That’s certainly rich considering that they take their cues from and support a president (yours not mine) who sounds like and tries to act like a king.
That I expected these displays doesn’t make them any less disappointing. Disappointing because America was actually starting to make progress. That damnable curve that had been swooping upward was finally leveling off and in some cases starting to fall off the other side. All we really need is a few more weeks, in some cases less, until a staged reasonable reopening can begin. With just that little extra push of patience we can shorten the nightmare. But that’s not soon enough for some because life has to go on for the healthy and the fortunate and we can’t wait on the weak and the vulnerable. As some of the protest signs said, people need to get a haircut, or a massage or get in a few rounds of golf and if granny perishes, well, like Bill O’Reilly said, she was probably on her last legs anyway.
All it takes is patience, but no, not in America. In America we’re all free, free, free because that’s what the founding fathers said and what the revolutionaries fought for. Did the minutemen really take up their muskets so 200 years later a lot of selfish people could snivel about not being able to have their nails done or hit the tennis courts or crowd together on the beach? In America we’re different, we have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights and yeah it might cost a few lives in the process but dammit freedom isn’t free and we have an economy to think of and we need to get back to work because that’s the good old Protestant American way. I guess that’s how it goes.
And then there’s the other brand of IDVID-20’s who eschew the Gadsden flag and tri-cornered hats. The ones who sport tinfoil hats and make the claim that 40,000 dead Americans and 180 countries struggling with the pandemic is a hoax, thus proving that the flat Earth society is apparently alive and thriving.
And it isn’t just the president (yours not mine) who’s the problem. We have plenty of people in government who are just as stubborn, just as stupid and just as morally bankrupt as the protesters and the president (yours not mine).
Louisiana Senator John Kennedy (who really should change his name because he’s soiling the memory of a great president) stated that the economy has to be reopened soon and when that happens the virus is “gonna spread faster,” which naturally assumes more loss of life. How very Joe Stalin of him to put such a low priority on life. Kennedy added that he didn’t want to hear any “sophomoric accusations” that he is “morally tainted” if he doesn’t “want to see the economy crash.” Kennedy has it wrong, he isn’t morally tainted, he’s morally barren. The economy will resurrect itself, people don’t.
The Lt. Governor of Texas said that “lots of grandparents” would be willing to die (of coronavirus) in order to save the economy. On the Tucker Carlson show Dan Patrick said, “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? But if they had? If that is the exchange, I’m all in.” Such brave words from a guy who was in his 20’s and ripe for military service during the Vietnam War, when he was a sportscaster and gained notoriety not for putting his life on the line in a Southeast Asian jungle but for painting himself Houston Oilers blue.
Even as her state experienced a coronavirus spike, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said on Fox (of course), “I took an oath to uphold the constitutions of our state and of our country. And I will always stand for South Dakotans’ freedom and liberties.” Alarming since her state is a major food producer and if South Dakota indeed goes south the nation’s food supply will be impacted. Given that she’s had 27 traffic citations in 21 years I’m dubious about her judgement and good sense.
But the very trophy winning, pièce de résistance of absolute lunacy has to be Georgia governor Brian Kemp’s announcement of the reopening of some businesses in his state even though cases of coronavirus are on the rise. In making his announcement Kemp reiterated the importance of social distancing even though the list of businesses allowed to open includes:
Body art studios
Nail care artists
Aestheticians and their respective schools
I may be just an ignorant old bastard but I don’t see how it’s physically possible for a barber to maintain six feet of social distance. I guess if some governor wants to make his state the canary in the coalmine it might just as well be one that’s on the other side of the country from my home state.
Amid all this, I’m wondering, just where in the hell are the senators who were in fits of indignation during the impeachment. You couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing them clucking like angry old hens about so called false accusations. And now? Where’s Lindsay Graham? Where’s Mitch McConnell? Where’s Chuck Grassley? While their boy in the White House is daily going off the rails and wreaking hell on the whole world, lying, insulting and pointing his stumpy finger at any convenient target they’ve been sheltering in silence, eyes shut and ears covered, harder to find than Waldo.
What’s most infuriating about all of these people from Trump to Kennedy to the mobs in the streets is the utter disregard for the hospital workers who are working ridiculous hours risking their lives and their families lives to take care of the sick and the dying while they have to watch behavior that will likely sabotage all of their efforts thus far.
No wait, what’s most infuriating is people whining about suffering while some of their fellow citizens die alone literally gasping for breath. There’s no held hand, no stroked brow, no “It’s okay to go, I love you and will miss you so much.” There’s a poverty of empathy and riches in greed that’s absolutely breathtaking.
No wait, what’s most infuriating is seeing a nurses in scrubs feeling compelled to stand in the middle of the street to halt caravans of protesters while having abuse hurled at them.
No, no wait, what’s most infuriating is seeing pictures of whiny little entitled creeps holding up signs that say, “I want a haircut,” “Massage is essential,” and Let my people golf.” If these are America’s 21st century minutemen, America’s new revolutionaries fighting for their inalienable rights to play a game, have their nails done or get a haircut then we are in deep water.
Wait, what’s most infuriating is watching the entitled whine and complain while there are students at Cornell turning 3D printers into face shields, students at Santa Clara University putting together whatever resources they can to score some PPE for healthcare workers, the Broadway singer who sticks his head out of an apartment window and serenades his neighbors, the Worcester County Sheriff and his reserve deputies who run errands for seniors and bring them groceries, a 13 year old Cambridge boy who is feeding the homeless through the pandemic and the middle schooler who is making masks using his own 3D printer.
Or maybe what infuriates me most is the fact that a 13 year old Boy Scout feels a calling to play Taps on his trumpet outside of a New Jersey veterans’ home every night to honor 37 military veterans who’ve died alone there, 10 of them of coronavirus while a Lt. Governor and a United States Senator, neither of whom served a minute in the armed forces, make repugnant morally bankrupt statements that essentially place the lives of these veterans and all Americans below the quest for the almighty dollar and the “freedom” to go play a round of golf.
“A narrow hallway is all that separates rational from irrational, creativity from insanity, and intelligence from stupidity.”
~ Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls