As my state of residence ushers in Phase 3 of reopening the economy amidst signs that we are flattening the COVID-19 curve, I am bracing myself for a surge in cases later this month. Most of the globe fully expects a second wave come this fall. So, this potential bump in virus spread is a fairly new development.
Just mere weeks ago as I write this, many of us left-leaning persons watched in disgust as people, the majority right-leaning, protested against the governors’ mandates to shelter-in-place. We were horrified as they stormed the castles, many of them carrying firearms, and shoulder-to-shoulder while bare-faced, as they decried the over-reaching government that kept them from going to church, eating at restaurants, drinking at bars, and even getting haircuts. Gasp! Keep the baskets full of vulnerables at home so that the rest of us can LIVE. Essentially, infringing their Constitutional rights to move freely. They got in the faces of public officials when there is a pandemic that attacks the respiratory system. And they expect us to trust that they will heed the CDC guidelines and be responsible citizens? We should be grateful that our government is looking out for our safety. We are trying to prevent a virus that is killing innocent people. How dare they risk setting us back and destroying all the sacrifices we’ve all made to keep the virus from spreading?
President Trump supported the protesters.
Just a mere two weeks ago, yet another innocent black man was wrongfully accused, detained, then died in police custody. This was especially heinous due to the brutality of the murder (yes, it was murder). George Floyd was suffocated in medieval, torturous fashion. He was literally pressed to death with knees on his neck and along his body as helpless onlookers yelled at the cops to let him go. The Internet provided the world free access to a snuff film that we watched over and over again. The faces of the smug officer and the lifeless victim are permanently singed in our minds. The video was so irrefutably damning and vivid that one can even see the urine that streamed out of George Floyd’s bladder when he became unresponsive. It should be a slam dunk case for the courts. The outrage over this busted through the political divide. Republicans and Democrats, for the most part, agreed on something.
Hundreds of thousands of people across the country took to the streets in protest, mostly unarmed. Many of them, if not all, left-leaning. The police department is too powerful and not held accountable, and is infected with systemic racism. They are supposed to serve and protect, yet they fail miserably over and over again, and they are now being called to the carpet. This government is over-reaching and infringing on Constitutional rights to move freely, not to mention a slew of other Amendments. Black people can’t do something as mundane as go to a store to buy a pack of cigarettes without the risk of being killed for it. This protest is essential in saving the lives of black people and driving the point home that, yes, black lives matter [too]. What started as a peaceful protest turned violent in places because of instigating fringe groups and criminals taking the opportunity to damage property and loot. Some of it was a symbolic and literal destruction of the oppressive system, some was just for the fuck of it. That was counterproductive and nearly drowned out the message that (still) needs to be heard. After 400 years of racism, this country has had enough. This is a message of such importance that the pandemic became secondary. Even though many protesters wore masks, social distancing was an impossibility. The collective voice resonates more strongly the larger the group is. It would be even louder if those voices carried arms, but that is antithetical to their view. That shift in priorities did not go unnoticed by more, let’s say, passive observers. How dare they risk setting our economy back and destroying all the sacrifices we’ve all made to keep the virus from spreading?
President Trump condemned the protesters. Called all of them thugs. Gassed them out of his way, even. Leave it to Trump to tip his base-pandering hand with literal and symbolic racist responses to protests against racism.
Fascinating. I admit a frustration with people whining about haircuts, et al. I am grateful that the local governments are looking out for us where the federal one is asleep at the wheel. They lay down ground rules because a lot of people can’t be trusted with personal responsibility, much less concern for other citizens. How can we NOT have a commanding government when a large part of the population refuses to even protect themselves? This pandemic is awful and we all have to make sacrifices, but crying about it doesn’t make it go away. It can actually make it worse since a virus could be transmitted through their infantile tears and the spittle from screaming in everyone’s faces. These patriot wannabes may need a Civics lesson. Their rights don’t go beyond their noses. They demand the right to move freely, and even unfettered from the recommended protocols to mitigate virus spread. The government can’t tell them what to do, but what they fail to realize is they can be punished if they hurt others. You can go over the speed limit, and possibly get away with it. If you are caught, you will be fined. If you kill someone in the process, you will go to jail. Go ahead, don’t practice said protocols. If you infect other people through your defiance, prepare to pay the price.
Besides, this is not a permanent condition. This too shall pass. Also, it is a face mask, not a burka or a funeral shroud. It is just a way to help ensure your rights stay where they belong.
Still, these protesters have a point. The government is really too powerful, and we elect and pay them to serve us, not to order us around. Do they have to risk spreading the virus to make that point, though?
I could say that if it wasn’t for my high-risk husband, I would be out there protesting against racism. I could say that I am sitting this one out because I want to do my part in controlling the spread of COVID-19. While both truth, peaceful assembly is just not my thing. I protest through the arts. I am an armchair activist, I suppose.
That said, I fully support railing against the lack of police accountability, and the racism that, unlike viruses, has no vaccine to prevent its spread, much less a cure. How can we have a government that doesn’t protect its people equally when a large part of the population refuses to even protect themselves? Do they have to risk spreading the virus to make that point, though?
The answer to that question in both cases is, yes and no. Yes, because now more than ever, the government needs strong checks and balances, and the citizens that elected them have a responsibility to put them in their place. This is a time of reckoning, and failing infrastructures need to be knocked down and rebuilt. No, because everything is crumbling around us because of this pandemic. Congregations of people, be it through peaceful assembly, religious services, or any gatherings, put us at risk. The virus doesn’t care about the Constitution. It is programmed to survive and propagate. We need to get over ourselves. This is not about you or me. It is about us.
We have a conflict of interests, and it should be okay to acknowledge that and recognize that there is not an eloquent solution. One size does not fit all and there should be no us versus them. Yet, we don’t relent, because we have to win. So much winning, yet, nothing but losing. Our ideologies are so steadfast that we refuse to bend against them, even if it is against our own best interest. We demand to move freely, even if it means catching a virus that could take away our ability to move, and possibly permanently. We demand the police be abolished, even if it means we have no way to be protected from anything or anyone that means us harm. The tears and spit in these protests are just as transmissible, regardless of the cause fought. Even the blood of patriots can carry the virus and infect. The goose and the gander defend one while judging the other for ultimately doing the same thing.
The left criticizes armed and unarmed people who risk virus spread to protest for their Constitutional rights. The right criticizes the unarmed left who risk virus spread to protest for equal human rights. It is, in a word, hypocritical. There are no degrees in hypocrisy, nor does it matter which cause is more important. Both sides played judge and jury, and neither has the right.
If it isn’t obvious, I am a hypocrite, as well. I complain about churches that defy the government mandates, but in the same breath, I support whatever it takes to plunge the vaccine needle into the jugular of all racists. Herd immunity is essential to Make America Great Altogether. It goes beyond ideology for me. It is visceral. If our Great country didn’t treat people of color like shit, we wouldn’t have to make a choice between evils in order to stop the injustice. News flash! We aren’t that great.
I just wish the protesters on the left exercised their Second Amendment rights along with their First. It would really tell the government who is boss. Just like some of the first protesters did to demand their haircuts. Guess what? They are getting them now, and without curfews or property damage. That is a whole different subject, though. It seems like the ongoing protests against racism are making some headway, albeit less quickly and effectively. Still, between the two movements, our governments (at least locally) are starting to pick up on the hints that they need to shape up or ship out.
Now if you will excuse me, I need to hunker down and isolate myself against the next wave.