Above Photo: A woman holds a sign during a rally to open the state at Wesley Bolin Plaza in Phoenix on May 3, 2020. Arizona Republic.
We are witnessing the consequences of Moral Relativism and Objectivism among the right-wing with the “spread the coronavirus” protestors opposed to social distancing measures enacted by governors to slow the spread of the coronavirus. There are far too many disciples of Ayn Rand.
Hundreds of “spread the coronavirus” protestors and anti-vaxxers (check out the signs below) gathered on Wesley Bolin Plaza at the state capitol on Sunday, days after President Trump allowed federal social distancing guidelines to expire, and many Republican state governors, including Governor Doug Ducey, began relaxing state social distancing guidelines.
Photo: Arizona Republican Senate candidate Daniel McCarthy speaks to the crowd during a rally for the governor to open the state at Wesley Bolin Plaza in Phoenix on May 3, 2020. Arizona Republic.
The U.S. suffered its biggest one-day death toll from the coronavirus to date on Friday, as several states began to reopen parts of their economies and ease lockdown measures. The US records its highest daily death toll as almost 20 states ease lockdown restrictions, WHO reports:
According to data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 1 at 4 a.m. ET, the country recorded 2,909 deaths in 24 hours — its worst number yet.
By lifting social distancing guidelines too soon, we can expect to see this number continue to climb. The “second wave” that Doctor Anthony Fauci has warned of is certain to occur.
Politico reported on the politicization of wearing masks and observing social distancing guidelines. Wearing a mask is for smug liberals. Refusing to is for reckless Republicans.
Views on how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic have become increasingly polarized, yet another political issue that for many culture war combatants is filtered through an ideological lens. The left has been almost uniformly — and loudly — in favor of sacrificing many personal liberties in exchange for containing the virus’ spread.
This is the “social contract” theory which informed the founding of this country in the Age of Enlightenment: an implicit agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits, for example by sacrificing some individual freedom for the common good.
The right has been divided, but the vocal activist wing of conservatism that has enormous influence on social media and Fox News, has been far more willing to attack the various infringements on where people can go and what they have to wear.
The mask has become the ultimate symbol of this new cultural and political divide.
For progressives, masks have become a sign that you take the pandemic seriously and are willing to make a personal sacrifice to save lives. Prominent people who don’t wear them are shamed and dragged on Twitter by lefty accounts. On the right, where the mask is often seen as the symbol of a purported overreaction to the coronavirus, mask promotion is a target of ridicule, a sign that in a deeply polarized America almost anything can be politicized and turned into a token of tribal affiliation.
The cleavage was made clear this week when Mike Pence toured the Mayo Clinic without wearing a mask. Pictures from the event showed the maskless vice president surrounded by doctors and patients with face coverings. The story dominated cable news. Liberal hosts shamed Pence for setting a bad example or behaving recklessly. Conservatives attacked the left’s mask obsession as another example of the creeping nanny state.
Laura Ingraham warned that “social control over large populations is achieved through fear and intimidation and suppression of free thought” and “conditioning the public through propaganda is also key, new dogmas replace good old common sense.”
Wow, that’s pretty rich coming from one of the worst demagogic propagandists in America. It’s almost as if she was admiring herself in the mirror, completely lacking self awareness.
Back in March, Ingraham was a big supporter of wearing masks in public. Trump World Turns on the True COVID Villain: Surgical Masks:
Back in March, with Americans just a week into quarantine, Fox News host Laura Ingraham envisioned a way that the economy could reopen. Her plan relied on lots of masks.
“Going back to most jobs after 15 days will require new protocols until this virus burns out—everyone within 6 feet of others MUST wear masks,” Ingraham tweeted.
As part of her pro-mask campaign, Ingraham tweeted instructions for Do It Yourself (DIY) masks, even urging her followers to make homemade masks out of their sheets.
“Literally you can make these with cotton sheets,” Ingraham wrote. “Again, we can be resourceful when necessary!”
A month later, Ingraham has done a 180, becoming one of the right-wing media’s most outspoken mask-haters. She’s tweeted that widespread mask wearing would make everyone “like Antifa,” the left-wing antifascist activists reviled on Fox. On Wednesday, she suggested on her show that widespread mask usage is some sort of plot to scare people.
“The masks, they’re kind of a constant reminder,” Ingraham said. “You see the mask and you think you’re not safe, you are not back to normal — not even close.”
Ingraham’s conversion reflects something deeper about the nature of our current politics, in which social safety measures themselves can become emblems of partisan leanings. Once the potential tools of liberation from stay-at-home orders, Trump supporters now see masks as a hated carryover from those same orders.
Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, the recent recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump, was an early mask paranoiac. On April 20, he promoted the idea, later picked up by Ingraham, that masks are totems of control.
“It is clear that the mask is a symbol of fear, and when you see various people suggesting that we may now have masks as part of our public lives for the rest of our lives?” Limbaugh said. “Uh, why?”
For some conservatives, refusing to wear a mask has become just the latest way to thumb their noses at social distancing mandates. Talk radio host Dennis Prager said in a video that he refused to don one—and compared himself to Rosa Parks or dissident Germans in the Nazi era for his defiance.
On the contrary, Prager, since you first breached Godwins’ Law and opened the door, what we are seeing is a return to the social Darwinism and eugenics from the early 20th century, when “culling the herd” of the weak, the infirm, the unproductive and the elderly was seen as improving the quality of society.
The Independent in Britain reported, The right has perfected making people expendable – but a coronavirus recession will take it further than ever (excerpt):
[A]s the virus has spread, so have murmurs on the right of what sounds oddly like enthusiasm, hard to reconcile with this new appearance of humanist welfarism: CNBC News editor Rick Santelli — whose epic rant in February 2009 is credited with the birth of the Tea Party — has suggested that the US encourage the disease to quickly “spread through the population” in order to minimise economic uncertainty; the Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner affected manful resignation about a “cull” of the unproductive elderly; Boris Johnson flirted with “taking it on the chin” last week, and has been accused of prioritising the views of behaviourists and eugenics-adjacent “assorted weirdos” over medical expertise in his stance on deferring containment.
A post at Daily Kos provides some historical context, Trump’s Nazification of the GOP is why there’s serious discussion of killing off the ‘unfit’ (excerpt):
Under Donald Trump, the Republican Party is racing toward a transformation that mimics the greatest evil of the 20th century. Long before the Nazis fully engaged with genocidal murder against the Jews, there were persecutions of people deemed “unfit.” These were people whom Adolf Hitler’s extremists arbitrarily deemed insufficiently able to contribute to the greater German society. They included the infirm, people with learning disabilities, the mentally ill, those suffering from epilepsy, the physically disabled, and those struggling with alcohol issues.
According to the Nazis’ white supremacist ideology, those people were not only impediments to their quest in perfecting their master race, but were also economic burdens to society. The Nazis started a campaign of propaganda to mock them. They were called “unworthy of life” and labeled as “useless eaters.” The propaganda even expanded to math textbooks, which were revised to include arithmetic problems on how much it costs to care for these undesirables. This was the first stage.
Then the Nazis moved to the next stage; they worked with political and medical authorities to divide communities between who they deemed as the “fit” and “unfit” members. The arbitrary classification system would serve a deadly purpose.
This ultimately led to the final stage: the systematic, targeted killing of those labeled as a burden. At that point, the Nazis had groomed the German population by getting a little bit worse every single day—just enough to normalize the inhumanity. By the time the Nazis reached this stage, the populace had gotten so used to the cruelties, it seemed like murder of “the weak” was simply the next logical step. They had justified it in their minds.
The concept of social Darwinism and arbitrary human classification is based upon Friedrich Nietzsche’s Übermensch theory of superhumans. These are people not impeded by the needs of others deemed inferior. The weaker humans—characterized as the burdens of society—are to be left to fend for themselves. Hitler used this theory as the ideological foundation for his belief in a master race. Another person known to borrow heavily from this theory is the prophet of American conservatism, author Ayn Rand.
Rand’s entire philosophy is centered around the concept of individual supremacy and radical free market fundamentalism. Rand and her ilk applied the Übermensch theory to capitalism, which justifies the wealthy’s belief that they have an absolute right to plunder. She called it ”the virtue of selfishness.” Her philosophy was simple: The weak are weak and should be taken advantage of, because it is the natural order of things. Therefore, society needs to focus only on developing the strong, and allow the weak to suffer or die.
Heather Cox Richardson at Letters From an American writes (excerpt):
Finally, the political conversation is shifting in a way that undermines our nation’s deepest principle. People are actually arguing about whether it might be a good thing to kill off society’s weakest members. A member of a planning commission from the San Francisco area 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….”
This man was removed from office, but his sentiments are not isolated. It is impossible to overlook that the people demanding states ease restrictions are overwhelmingly white, when both African Americans and Native Americans are badly susceptible to Covid-19. In Chicago, for example, 32% of the population is African American; 67% of the dead have been black. Further south, the Navajo Nation is behind only New York and New Jersey for the highest infection rate in the US.
White supremacists are celebrating these deaths, and calling for their supporters to infect minorities with the virus. But even those who insist they simply want society to open up again are demanding policies that will disproportionately kill some Americans at higher rates than others. Some are overt about their hatreds—like the Illinois woman who carried a sign with the motto from Auschwitz and the initials of the Jewish governor—and others simply sacrifice minorities in the course of business, as Trump did when he used the Defense Production Act to keep infected meat processing plants operating, plants overwhelmingly staffed by black and brown people.
If we accept the idea that some of us matter more than others, we have given up the whole game. This country was—imperfectly, haltingly—formed on the principle that we are all created equal, and equally entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If we are willing to admit that our founders were wrong, that we are not equal, that older Americans, Black Americans, Brown Americans, sick Americans, all matter less than healthy white Americans, we have admitted the principle that we are not all created equal, and that some of us are better than others.
This is, of course, the principle of white supremacy, but it does no favors to most white people, either. Once we have abandoned the principle of equality, any one of us is a potential sacrifice.
And then it will not matter anymore what our political narrative is, for it will be as much as our lives are worth to disagree with whatever our leaders say.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on live television that “lots of grandparents” are willing to “take a chance” on their survival for the good of the economy, and “there are more important things than living. And that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us.”
Brit Hume of Fox News said it’s “entirely reasonable” to let family members die for the stock market.
Republicans can’t claim to be the “pro life” party when they openly argue to let grandma and grandpa die, to be sacrificed upon the altar of American capitalism.
The Daily Kos post concludes with this warning:
Serious discussions of sacrificing the weak weren’t acceptable too long ago; I don’t even want to think what might be considered acceptable four years from now, if the right-wing is still clinging to power.
This terrifying stance should scare you to do everything you can to make sure this Nazified version of the GOP is thrown out of power this year. Otherwise, you or your family might be subjected to the “next stage.” Right now, the right is asking for voluntary sacrifices of the old and weak, but history shows it’s just a few atrocities away from being made mandatory.
There are some truly sick people, quite literally, walking among us, and I don’t mean just the coronavirus.