Monday, July 20, 2020

Accepting COVID-19 body counts is not a new anomaly

I wondered almost out loud this morning why the country could be aware that more than 140,000 of its residents have died in a continuing contagion without a mass march on the White House demanding the resignation of the President whose anti-science denial and buffoonish obstruction guarantee the death toll will continue out-of-control, further upend the nation and astonish the world.

Of course, I know the reasons why:

* Mass protests during a viral pandemic put healthy citizens at risk.

* Everyday people are minding their children at home, trying to pay their bills , fighting for their sanity or burying their grandparents.

* Not to mention Trump's latest gambit: dispatching to Portland secret squads of untraceable Federal police - even though we don't have a Federal police force in America - to abuse protesters and terrorize the collective consciousness. 

Trump is showing that he's fed up with mass protests against his regime which began within hours of his swearing-in, so more dictator stuff from atop a democracy is his answer.

And he can deploy openly these fascistic tactics against protests he has stirred up because complicit partisan GOP Senate enablers like Ron Johnson 

refused to remove this demonstrably-unfit-and-dangerous President from office.

So don't miss the obvious: Trump will replicate his secret police dispatching to Milwaukee, and other cities, when it suits his personal and partisan fear-mongering agenda.

And put that possibility and all its consequences into the personal and national subconscious as part of Trump's punitive, vindictive and criminally-self-absorbed re-election strategy.

That said, it's also necessary and instructive to remember other American facts and histories which contradict myths which American institutions have spun and ingrained to insulate less-aware citizens and allow them and the country as a whole to be prouder than is deserved.

So let's be honest; success and survivability in American has always been situational and selective by gender and race and country-of-origin, and big body counts have been and continue to be accepted because equity and public health have been and remain regularly undermined or blown up in America by racism, greed, thoughtlessness, obeisance to right-wing corporate special interests, handy denial, sick partisanship and plain old selfishness.

Need a quick reminder? 

Vice-President Pence recently said concern about the country's generally-acknowledged feeble and fatally-flawed response to the pandemic was overblown

After Ron Johnson had said earlier that a potential 11 million or so US COVID-19 deaths was an acceptable risk.

Here's are a few more really bad and really instructive statistics which show that COVID-19 deaths aren't the only fatalities which our culture is willing to 'live with.'

* 67,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control

We used to hear a lot about the opioid crisis, but now, not so much. 

Very few perpetrators of this corporately-contrived disaster went to jail. Others were allowed to buy their way out of responsibility through civil penalties, and in Wisconsin, Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimel wouldn't even sue to help fund addiction and treatment and programs.

Or consider that:

* 39,773 gun deaths were recorded in the US in 2017, the largest number since 1968, according to CDC data:
This was slightly more than the 39,595 gun deaths recorded in the prior peak year of 1993. Both gun murders and gun suicides have gone up in recent years: The number of gun murders rose 32% between 2014 and 2017, while the number of gun suicides rose each year between 2006 and 2017 (a 41% increase overall).
When Gov. Evers tried to get the GOP-controlled State Legislature to address gun violence in Wisconsin, the not-surprising result fit a pattern:
Vos and Fitzgerald gaveled down the legislative sessions in seconds.
And now for some far weightier numbers which have been swept under the national rug or are finally being forced into the country's consciousness through both fresh atrocities and social movements in response:

* The mass kidnapping of people from Africa and their enslavement in America which led to millions of death.
The trans-Atlantic slave trade was the largest movement of people in history. Between 10 and 15 million Africans were forcibly transported across the Atlantic between 1500 and 1900. But this figure grossly understates the actual number of Africans enslaved, killed, or displaced as a result of the slave trade. At least 2 million Africans--10 to 15 percent--died during the infamous "Middle Passage" across the Atlantic. Another 15 to 30 percent died during the march to or confinement along the coast. Altogether, for every 100 slaves who reached the New World, another 40 had died in Africa or during the Middle Passage.... 
Upon arrival in the New World, enslaved Africans underwent the final stage in the process of enslavement, a rigorous process known as "seasoning." Many slaves died of disease or suicide....
*  And the killing continued into the Jim Crow years, through decades of lynchings and subsequent connections to police and government violence - and organized pushback - which is the news today.
Black deaths at the hands of law enforcement are linked to historical lynchings

U.S. counties where lynchings were more prevalent from 1877 to 1950 have more officer-involved killings
George Floyd’s death was more than just a murder, it was a modern-day lynching.
The agonizing similarity in the death of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, is that current and former police officers participated in their lynching. From 1877 to 1950, nearly 4,000 individuals were the victims of lynchings. Some have speculated that as many as 75% of historical lynchings  “were perpetrated with the direct or indirect assistance of law enforcement personnel.” Despite drawing attention from large crowds, many perpetrators of historical lynchings were never charged with a crime—a fact seen in many modern-day officer-involved shootings.
*  The US Government and white Americans systematically exterminated millions of native people.
As many as 15 million Native American people are estimated to have been living in North America when Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. The so-called Indian Wars devastated indigenous people. By the close of the 19th century, fewer than 238,000 Native Americans remained. 
My point is that when a Trump or a Pence or a Johnson is willing to tolerate what ought to be automatically abhorrent, let alone unacceptable, please remember that there is abundant precedent for their 'position,' and ample historical and cultural context for it, too. 

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