A Viral Pandemic; A Tidal Wave of Ignorance and Hate; a Fascist Regime Soaked in Suffering and Death

| revcom.us


From A Reader:

“This is not just ineptitude, it’s sabotage. He (Donald Trump) has sabotaged efforts to keep people safe.”  Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, speaking of the Trump/Pence Regime’s response to the coronavirus pandemic

As of November 21, there have been 55.6 million known cases of coronavirus worldwide and 1.34 million deaths; within the U.S. the figures are 12.2 million viral cases, and 254,000 deaths. New cases in the U.S. are nearing 200,000 a day, almost double what they were just on November 4, when they exceeded 100,000 a day for the first time.

Trump and others around him are utterly indifferent to the death in which the country, and the world, are immersed. He has gone golfing every weekend since the election, but as the Associated Press wrote, “... the president has shown little interest in the growing (virus) crisis even as new confirmed cases are skyrocketing and hospital intensive care units in many parts of the country are nearing capacity.” He has refused cooperation with the staff of incoming president-elect Biden over virus issues, an act which will almost surely cause untold delays in developing plans and treatments for the virus, and many thousands more deaths. 

The barrage of lies, denial, belief in magic, and attacks on science Trump has spewed about the virus are too numerous to even outline in this article. But a few samples: on February 27 - “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle—it will disappear”; June 17 - the pandemic is “fading away. It’s going to fade away”. On April 24, Trump advocated that people consume bleach - “I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” Two days later the Illinois Department of Health reported a spike in self-poisoning by people who had consumed bleach. On September 29, Trump claimed that a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concluded that “85% of people wearing a mask catch it (the virus)” – Trump not only lied, he twisted the main purpose of wearing masks, which is to prevent the spread of the virus to other people.

The response to the virus nationwide has been a chaotic clash of measures and inaction that can differ and even conflict dramatically from state to state, even within jurisdictions. In hard hit El Paso, Texas, police said they would not enforce an order from the county judge restricting businesses to “essential activities”; El Paso County Sheriffs said they would enforce it. In many parts of the country, from big cities to isolated rural areas, medical facilities and staff are being stressed to and beyond their breaking point.

Bumbling incompetence, infuriating inaction, outright negligence – all this has been part of the reason such a cascade of disasters has beset people across this country. But more fundamentally, an ideology (coherent worldview), an epistemology (theory of knowledge), and a morality in service to fascism, and to advance fascism’s consolidation, have emerged through the course of this ordeal, and have shaped and cohered the goals and direction of the Trump/Pence regime’s response to the virus.

Denying Science, Flaunting Ignorance

From the start, the regime has been anti-science, anti-expert, and anti-public health. The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote in January 2017 that “The Trump administration and 115th Congress have been actively dismantling science-based health and safety protections, sidelining scientific evidence, and undoing recent progress on scientific integrity.” The Union updated this report on November 12, 2020 - with dozens of well documented examples.

Two of them – the regime used a little-known federal regulation to order the CDC to stop immigration at the U.S./Mexico border, “despite stark concerns raised by CDC scientists that … there was no evidence this action would halt or slow the ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19….” This order resulted in the deportation of at least 150,000 people, including “8,800 children who entered the US without parents or guardians – unaccompanied children are normally afforded special legal protections but were denied this right under the CDC order.. In October 2020, Trump blocked a “science-based order requiring all passengers and employees to wear masks on public transportation to prevent the spread of COVID-19 … (sidelining) the expertise of public health scientists (and) thereby stopping them from implementing a science-based policy that would prevent transmission and ultimately save lives.” This CDC order was issued at a time when Trump, some of his fascist inner circle, and countless MAGA fascists at his rallies were catching the virus, and flaunting their refusal to “mask-up.”

One of Trump’s first actions to confront and contain the virus was to appoint Mike Pence to oversee the regime’s response. Pence is a Christian fundamentalist who does not accept science. He opposes science. When he was a Congressman, he gave a speech repudiating evolution. Throughout his political career he has opposed public health measures. As a Congressman, Pence put forward an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood. When he was governor of Indiana and the worst HIV crisis in the state’s history broke out, with intravenous drug users in rural areas being especially hard hit, Pence’s initial response was to go home and pray. Pence prevented a needle exchange for four months, and hundreds of people were infected with potentially deadly HIV and Hepatitis C viruses in those months. Vicious, heartless efforts like these were part of what made Pence a hero to and major leader of Christian Fascism nationwide; they were part of the reason Trump chose him for vice-president in the first place.

The Deadly Effect of Internalizing Toxins 

Many people whose world outlook has been conditioned by unscientific and anti-scientific outlooks have complex and harmful reactions when they learn they have the virus. A woman in Tampa, Florida told a reporter that she had no idea about the emotional toll the virus would take on her, or how it would impact her family and friends - the “guilt and shame” she would feel. “Fear stops some people from feeling compassion. They treated me like I had the plague … I guess I did have the plague.”

A doctor in South Dakota told Newsweek magazine that members of his family “deny it (COVID-19) exists. It's hard to have that conversation with them." Also in South Dakota, a nurse tweeted about her COVID patients who “still don't believe the virus is real. The ones who scream at you for a magic medicine and that Joe Biden is going to ruin the USA. All while gasping for breath on 100% Vapotherm. They tell you there must be another reason they are sick. They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that 'stuff' because they don't have COVID because it's not real. Yes. This really happens.”

This is extremely harmful, to the individuals who react this way, and to society. And it is worsened by the fascists in power.  

In late October - as the virus and death totals skyrocketed nationwide; as refrigerated trucks to hold corpses which hospitals had no room for lined up in El Paso; as North and South Dakota had a COVID situation “as bad as it gets anywhere in the world” - Pence brazenly made the preposterous, infuriatingly smug claim that he is “… absolutely convinced that because of the president’s leadership … we literally saved hundreds of thousands of American lives.” What was he telling the people who are sick and dying? That it was their fault? That it was all in their imagination? That they didn’t have “good genes”?

This regime is anti-science, anti-expert, and anti-public health – and all that is a big part of the “glue” that coheres tens of millions of Christian Fascists around their fascism. As Bob Avakian said in his landmark speech, “THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible,” Trump, Pence and the Christian Fascist core of their regime is “… on a mission to deny health care to millions who will suffer and many who will die without it.” Repudiating “… the scientific method overall…” is a foundation of their worldview.

Toxic Individualism

In May, Ted Cruz, Christian Fascist senator and one of Trump’s foremost bootlickers, made a show of going to a hair salon that had opened in defiance of a statewide lockdown in Texas. Trump immediately tweeted his support for the salon owner, saying she is "an incredible representative for a large group of people that want to do the same thing — they want to get back to work." Actually, this shopkeeper is representative of a large group of people – people who pride themselves on being “American individualists” and don’t give a good god-damn about anyone else.

In late October, as the death toll mounted, Trump’s chief of staff said, “There's not any part of our strategy that's going to include a lockdown.” Then, Trump tweeted, “There will be NO LOCKDOWNS. The great American Comeback is underway!!!" The statement is delusional, even on its own terms. In fact, millions of people are out of work in this country, millions of people are on the brink of eviction, and about 12 million people could lose their lifelines of support on December 26, according to the think tank “The Century Foundation.” But more fundamentally, it is a dangerous clarion call to tens of millions of Trump’s MAGA mobs to ignore and outright oppose measures taken to protect public health.

Trump’s contempt for wearing a mask has become a trademark of his attitude. It is part of what his MAGA mobs love about him, and emulate from him.  His entourage and his fascist mobs have followed suit. Wearing or not wearing a mask has become a social dividing line in many parts of the country. These fascists think that not wearing a mask is a mark of their “freedom” to do as they please. 

Take a minute and really think about what that tells you about the dominant culture and putrid morality of this society.  

This ugly individualism goes hand in glove with disdain for those dying with and suffering from coronavirus, and venomous contempt for and often threats upon health care workers trying to sound an alarm, and convince people to protect themselves, and others. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a leading Christian Fascist, said earlier in the year he feared that public health restrictions such as masks and mandatory shutdowns could end the American life he knows, and that if someone asked him “ ‘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?’ … And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in. That doesn’t make me noble or brave or anything like that. I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me.” Patrick in fact did not volunteer his own death – but nursing homes for the elderly have become a center of viral disease and death across the country.

Contempt for the lives of people exposed to the virus was expressed viciously by supervisors at a meat packing plant in Iowa, who “took bets on how many workers would get infected with Covid-19, even as they took measures to protect themselves and denied knowledge of the spread of the illness at work, according to new allegations in a lawsuit against the company and some employees.”

Trump has repeatedly ridiculed Dr. Anthony Fauci, and his MAGA followers have unleashed a torrent of abuse and threats against Fauci, to the point that he has had to get security for himself and his family. A former director of the CDC told a reporter that the number people forced out of public health positions across the country is “…stunning,” and attributed it in part to “attacks on public health experts and institutions from the highest levels of government, including from President Donald Trump ….”

Repudiating a Putrid Culture

"People are tired of COVID. I have the biggest rallies I've ever had, and we have COVID. People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They're tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots." Donald Trump, October 29.

"We estimate that at least 130,000 deaths and perhaps as many as 210,000 could have been avoided with earlier policy interventions and more robust federal coordination and leadership … Even with the dramatic recent appearance of new COVID-19 waves globally, the abject failures of U.S. government policies and crisis messaging persist, U.S. fatalities have remained disproportionately high throughout the pandemic when compared to even other high-mortality countries.” From a report issued by the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, October 22, 2020.

Trump has staked his virus program on development of a vaccine. When and if that happens, it will not signify a return to “normalcy.” Trump boasts that he and his son emerged from positive virus tests because they have “good genes.” His program for the virus in a nutshell: “Vaccine + No Masks + No Lockdowns + Social Distancing Optional + Death to Those With ‘Weak Genes’ and/or No Money.”

People who embrace this disgusting individualism are those who fly “Don’t Tread on Me” flags; who wear shirts depicting cannons and the slogan “Come and Take It.” But reality asserts itself. And a big part of reality now is that millions continue to suffer, all around the world, because of a virus. Reality is also the health care workers like the South Dakotans quoted above, who continue to pour their hearts and souls, their skills and passion, into preventing more deaths. Reality is also the millions of people everywhere, in all walks of life, who are doing the right things: wearing masks, social distancing, listening to the science, watching out not just for themselves and maybe their immediate families, but for their neighbors, co-workers, strangers they interact with on busses, in grocery stores, in all their activities. A culture, and a morality, can and must emerge as a social force among those who reject the ugly individualism the fascist regime concentrates.

Any society would be greatly challenged in confronting a pandemic. As Bob Avakian demonstrates in his article “The Deadly Illusion of ‘Normalcy’ and the Revolutionary Way Forward,” the exploitative and oppressive relations of capitalism are an obstacle to addressing this in a way that benefits humanity, and that problem has been worsened dramatically with the fascist Trump/Pence regime - complete with its anti-science aggression and its putrid morality - in power. Another way forward for humanity, is not only urgently needed, but possible because of the work Bob Avakian has done in developing the New Communism.

What people think, how people think, really matters. The morality they bring to confronting challenges really matters.

Maskless Trump supporters wave as he departs Trump National Golf Club, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Sterling, Virginia (Photo: AP)

Armed militia occupying the Michigan State Capitol demanding an end to “stay at home” orders intended to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Immigrants from Mexico seeking asylum are turned back at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Immigrants from Mexico seeking asylum are turned back at the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: AP

ICU healthcare workers, Washington state, May 2020.

See the full film, excerpts and Q&A of this film



Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:

Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.