Don’t just say #COVIDIOTS

So I found this on Twitter and I’m seeing the hashtag, #COVIDIOTS:

As usual, it all looks so clever, but what’s missing here is that elites have told the poor to do what they simply cannot do.[1] I’m seeing the backlash everyday as I drive for Lyft, as more and more people are out despite the lockdown, as traffic gets heavier and heavier, as people tell me they disbelieve authorities.

There are multiple shades of truth here. One is the stark reality of the novel coronavirus, of a frightful disease, COVID-19, in which some who suffer must die alone—passengers tell me friends and family cannot visit, cannot hold their hands—in a panic that I guess only those who have suffered pneumonia[2] or something like it can know, desperate for air, their hearts pounding; of a disease whose spread among the population is unknown and for which immunity is unknown and for which we have neither a vaccine, nor a cure, nor a timeline for developing either.[3] One passenger told me that some just give up hope; the isolation itself kills them. Meanwhile, many others seemingly get off asymptomatically scot-free or with only mild symptoms.[4]

Another shade is the abject inadequacy of the elite response to the economic crisis resulting from a lockdown meant to limit the spread of the virus.[5] The economic relief that has been passed falls far short of what is needed, this was well known even as it was passed, and implementation has diminished even this.[6] Add here that the psychic relief in an oppressive situation made even more so has been nonexistent.[7]

Yet another shade is the perception of a need to preserve a profoundly unjust economic system,[8] whose injustice compounds all this,[9] that is collapsing into something like a new Great Depression.[10] In this, as always, the rich, here exemplified by Nancy Pelosi, exploit the desperation of the poor even as they pretend to suffer themselves:

Nancy Pelosi attached a video to her tweet revealing she has some very nice looking (apparently each costing over $11,000) large refrigerators/freezers in her kitchen, exposing her hoarding capacity.

We need to acknowledge and to address all of these truths. It is inadequate to just say the disease or to just say the economy. And it is certainly inadequate to just say #COVIDIOTS. The authorities fail to provide adequate answers, so the desperate turn to other sources, sources we may not like, sources we may disapprove of. We shouldn’t be the least bit surprised and we should be making sure our words about taking care of each other aren’t mere feel-good fluff.

  1. [1]Anne Applebaum, “The Coronavirus Called America’s Bluff,” Atlantic, March 15, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-showed-america-wasnt-task/608023/; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/; Funda Ustek-Spilda et al., “The untenable luxury of self-isolation,” New Internationalist, March 18, 2020, https://newint.org/features/2020/03/18/untenable-luxury-self-isolation
  2. [2]Maria Godoy, “How COVID-19 Kills: The New Coronavirus Disease Can Take A Deadly Turn,” National Public Radio, March 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/14/805289669/how-covid-19-kills-the-new-coronavirus-disease-can-take-a-deadly-turn
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Don’t bet on ‘herd immunity,’” Not Housebroken, April 18, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/18/dont-bet-on-herd-immunity/
  4. [4]Maria Godoy, “How COVID-19 Kills: The New Coronavirus Disease Can Take A Deadly Turn,” National Public Radio, March 17, 2020, https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/14/805289669/how-covid-19-kills-the-new-coronavirus-disease-can-take-a-deadly-turn; Danielle Renwick, “Have I already had coronavirus? How would I know and what should I do?” Guardian, April 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/05/have-i-already-had-coronavirus-how-would-i-know
  5. [5]Howard Markel et al., “Nonpharmaceutical Interventions Implemented by US Cities During the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic,” Journal of the American Medical Association 298, no. 6 (2007), doi: 10.1001/jama.298.6.644
  6. [6]Anne Applebaum, “The Coronavirus Called America’s Bluff,” Atlantic, March 15, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-showed-america-wasnt-task/608023/; David Blanchflower, “Pandemic Economics: ‘Much Worse, Very Quickly,” New York Review of Books, March 26, 2020, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/03/26/pandemic-economics-much-worse-very-quickly/; Kim Hart, “The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it,” Axios, March 23, 2020, https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-economy-layoffs-children-families-bad-d588cc93-ff26-4031-8be8-5654cce05a15.html; Sarah Jones, “Dear Rich People: Please Stop Hoarding Things,” New York, March 30, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/things-are-bad-and-rich-people-arent-helping.html; Hanna Kozlowska, “Coronavirus is revealing ugly truths about social structure in the US,” Quartz, March 14, 2020, https://qz.com/1818548/coronavirus-is-revealing-ugly-truths-about-social-structure-in-the-us/; Eric Levitz, “In the Age of the Coronavirus, Biden’s ‘Results’ Require Bernie’s ‘Revolution,’” New York, March 16, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/who-won-the-democratic-debate-between-biden-and-bernie-coronavirus.html; Tony Romm, “Uber drivers and other gig economy workers were promised unemployment benefits. It may be a long wait,” Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/02/uber-airbnb-lyft-unemployment-coronavirus/; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/; Luke Taylor, “When coronavirus is behind us, will you still think of restaurant and bar workers?” Vox, March 21, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/3/21/21188210/coronavirus-restaurant-bar-workers-economy-service-industry; Reis Thebault, Andrew Ba Tran, and Vanessa Williams, “The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/07/coronavirus-is-infecting-killing-black-americans-an-alarmingly-high-rate-post-analysis-shows/; Funda Ustek-Spilda et al., “The untenable luxury of self-isolation,” New Internationalist, March 18, 2020, https://newint.org/features/2020/03/18/untenable-luxury-self-isolation; Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Denise Lu, and Gabriel J.X. Dance, “Location Data Says It All: Staying at Home During Coronavirus Is a Luxury,” New York Times, April 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/03/us/coronavirus-stay-home-rich-poor.html
  7. [7]David Benfell, “As we cower in our apartments,” Not Housebroken, April 6, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/06/as-we-cower-in-our-apartments/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “The capitalist death cult,” Not Housebroken, March 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/27/the-capitalist-death-cult/; David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/15/an-impatient-capitalist-god-demands-human-sacrifice-now/; Eric Cortellessa, “US far-right extremists are now calling social distancing a Nazi policy,” Times of Israel, April 17, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-far-right-extremists-are-now-calling-social-distancing-a-nazi-policy/; Ben Riley-Smith, “Donald Trump launches plan to ‘open up America again’ after coronavirus lockdown,” Telegraph, April 17, 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/16/donald-trump-launches-plan-open-america-coronavirus-lockdown/
  9. [9]Anne Applebaum, “The Coronavirus Called America’s Bluff,” Atlantic, March 15, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-showed-america-wasnt-task/608023/; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/; Eugene Scott, “4 reasons coronavirus is hitting black communities so hard,” Washington Post, April 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/10/4-reasons-coronavirus-is-hitting-black-communities-so-hard/; Funda Ustek-Spilda et al., “The untenable luxury of self-isolation,” New Internationalist, March 18, 2020, https://newint.org/features/2020/03/18/untenable-luxury-self-isolation
  10. [10]David Benfell, “I fear for our world,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/09/i-fear-for-our-world/; Justin Lahart, “Great Depression Unemployment Levels Are on Tap,” Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/great-depression-unemployment-levels-are-on-tap-11587053071; Heather Long, “U.S. now has 22 million unemployed as economy sinks toward Depression-like scenario,” Washington Post, April 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/16/unemployment-claims-coronavirus/; Ben White, “Great Depression 2? Worries about a coronavirus-induced calamity pile up,” Politico, March 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/23/great-depression-coronavirus-induced-calamity-145304
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Let them eat Jeni’s ice cream?” Irregular Bullshit, April 15, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/04/15/let-them-eat-jenis-ice-cream/

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