Category Archives: Death of Truth

Trump the Saviour

Some people are now saying Trumpism is a cult. There is some substance to this claim. Trump said that he could stand on 5th Avenue in New York, shoot someone, and he would not lose any support! That is theological support. Trumpers are accustomed to believing without evidence. As a result, the lack of evidence for Trump’s claims, such as his claim that he won the presidential election by a landslide, for example, can readily be believed by the Trumpers. That is why, I believe, Evangelicals in general have had such fondness for Trump. They find it easy to believe in him. That is why I have been saying beliefs have consequences.

Rick Wilson the co-founder of the Lincoln project had some interesting things to say about Trumpism:

“Trumpism is a cultural problem. That culture is defiant of reality and tradition and morality. It is a fundamentally unconservative culture.  They are not believers in limited government, the rule of law or the constitution. They believe in Trump. If he says something, that’s what they believe. If he said tomorrow ‘I am in favour of child sacrifice,’ they would say, ‘we ought to reconsider child sacrifice,’ because that is the power he has over them. It’s the most astounding diversion from what American politicians have traditionally been.  Traditionally, even powerful and charismatic American politicians have been in response to people.  These are in response to a leader.  He is a perfect authoritarian figure in terms of the charisma, the control, and almost religious devotion to him.”

 

The only thing that rings false in that statement is the word “almost.”  It is in fact religious devotion. The word “almost’ waters it down too much.

Trump is the saviour of Trumpers. As a result, Trump does not have to worry about his supporters being disappointed in. It does not matter. It is unlikely to vanish. It is possible it will vanish but unlikely. Other politicians can only envy Trump.

The Essence of Trumpism

One of the most insightful commentators on modern international politics is Anne Applebaum. She was interviewed recently on Amanpour & Co. She talked about  something new she called Trumpism:

“Trumpism is not as it was advertised. It’s not what it has been analyzed as.  It isn’t anything to do with economics. It has nothing to do with foreign policy or bringing home the troops. It isn’t anything to do with the issues it is attached to. The essence of Trumpism, the deepest meaning of Trumpism, is that it is a rejection of reality. It is a projection of victory for Trump by his followers no matter if that victory is real or not. The essence is the president declaring victory where he has lost…  So we have the Vice-president, the United States Secretary of State, also following the same pattern. They aren’t contradicting the president. They know he has lost, but because they too are vying for the same mantle, hoping to someday lead the same political movement. They need to keep telling their followers that they’ve won even though they’ve not. And that is actually the essence of the movement.  That is the piece of it that will carry on. We are now seeing the political successors to Trump   who are trying to create that same feeling…We triumph over reality no matter what happens.”

Anne Applebaum is an expert on the undemocratic movements in Europe that have been expanding in the past few years. She lives in Poland and writes for The Atlantic. Europe and other parts of the world that have political leaders that want to follow the lead of Donald Trump from democracy to some form of autocracy. This Applebaum says is very important. They see how America has done it. They will likely want to use the same methods to achieve the same goal even though it looks like Trump, so far at least, has failed to achieve his goal. But he clearly showed it could be done. As Applebaum said, “the great power of American politics was always its example…that 250 years of peaceful change of power that inspired people, and this will now inspire in the opposite direction.”

As Applebaum reminded us, “We now live in an era when rumour and conspiracy theories travel much faster than real news.” According to the fascinating film “The Social Dilemma” lies travel 7 times as fast as truth, because lies are amplified by social media while truth is boring and ignored.   We are in a highly volatile situation. Anything can happen. Explosions are hardly unlikely. We had better beware. All of us.

As Applebaum said,

“Distrust” is an insufficient word. People don’t have faith any more in so called mainstream media that involves going down with fact-checking, conversation, and research. They are willing to believe material they find on Facebook. The essence of Trumpism is also based on that. It’s developed out of that world in which rumour, imaginary victories, and the imaginary world is much stronger and more appealing than the real world.      How do you deal with people who believe that Donald Trump will be inaugurated on January 21, 2021? Or that believe there is a cabal of pedophiles that is trying to rob the country? None of us have thought through the implications of this new world view It is all over the world.”

 

That is the problem. We have a world in which millions  of people have given up on believing things based on evidence and prefer to believe what is convenient to their world view. They have lost respect for the truth. Such people can be convinced by their leaders of any conceivable lie. Such people can be convinced to do unimaginable things. Such people are dangerous. And we have to live with them. And we don’t know how we can do that.

 

Is Impeachment a Good Idea?

 

The Democrats are so keen on impeaching Trump they are doing so with unseemly haste. Is that smart?  All of them seem to think so. I have yet to hear one opposed. Every Democrat in the House of Representatives voted for impeachment today.  But is impeachment a big mistake?

Even though I am a lone wolf on this issue, I think it is a big mistake even though I think he is clearly guilty as sin and deserves to be impeached. Impeachment is a political process where facts are not very important. That is great for Trump and his fans. It is not so good for the rest of us.

Prosecutors have a rule that they should not prosecute unless they have a reasonable likelihood of a successful prosecution. That is a good rule. It reserves a court for what it was designed for. It is not designed to send a message or make a point. An impeachment trial is sort of like that.

Before Trump’s first impeachment trial in which Trump was acquitted the Democrats said they wanted to demonstrate that Trump could not get away with all the nasty things he had done.  They wanted to teach him and future presidents a lesson. Well what lesson did Trump learn from the first impeachment trial?  He learned he could get away with obstructing justice because the Republicans would back him up no matter what he did or said. He was emboldened by the victory.  I remember the Maine Senator who was interviewed after the trial said she was sure Trump had learned a lesson and would be more careful in the future. That was hopelessly naïve.  He learned he could do a lot with impunity.

If Trump is likely to be acquitted again, as many say, and as I believe, what will happen?  He won’t be president anymore so it won’t matter for that purpose. But even worse it will embolden the Trumper out there that no matter how bad they act their political brethren will save them. We cannot forget that Trumpism is alive and well. Even after inciting a deadly riot against the sacred temple of American democracy and encouraging and unleashing an angry mob that vandalized the Capitol, terrorized the politicians, and nearly led to a successful insurrection, if the Senate acquits Trump then Trumpers will get the same message. They will know they can get away with anything. Then the next Trump, who is likely to be smarter than the first Trump, will be emboldened.  America could be in for serious trouble.

Everyone must remember impeachment has the form of a trial but really it is a political process. At the first impeachment trial only 1 Republican voted to find Trump guilty of only 1 of the charges. This time to reach the required 2/3rds  majority in the Senate at least 17 Republican Senators must vote to find him guilty. In the House only 10 agreed to charge Trump.  Why does anyone think 17 Republicans can be turned against him. Trumpism is alive. His devoted fans are still exactly that.  Republicans will have to be brave to vote guilty.  I have never seen much bravery in the Republican party.  I hope I am wrong but I am deeply pessimistic.

After Bill Clinton was acquitted at his impeachment trial, where voting was largely on partisan lines,  he was charged up after the trial and became more popular than ever.

I fear the same thing will happen if Trump is acquitted, which I believe is probable.  He and his supporters—i.e. the Trumpers–will  be turbo-charged. If he is found guilty it will make no difference. They believe he was elected and that he can do no wrong and that the evil Democrats are out to get him.

The thing that Trump likes most besides himself is attention.  Another impeachment trial will give him abundant publicity, when it would be to the advantaged of Democrats to have the attention given to Biden and his new team instead. The Democrats should do whatever they can to take attention away from Trump. He will still get attention, but let’s not amplify it. James Comey said “The greatest punishment for Trump would be to be left at the lawn at Mar-a-Lago  yelling at cars as they go by.

Don’t give Trump what he wants. Give him what he hates–i.e. to be ignored. The Democrats have a lot to lose and little to gain by impeaching Trump again.

 

Insurrection Day or Epiphany

 

January 6, 2021 was an astonishing day. It was a day of insurrection. It was a day when the things I have been blogging about and warning about almost happened. It was not surprising. Yet it was really surprising.

 

Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic referred to January 6, 2021 as insurrection day. Some call it epiphany. Both are pretty good names. There certainly was an insurrection. But was there an epiphany—what James Joyce in his great novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, called an  “a sudden spiritual manifestation?” I hope there was that but frankly I doubt it. America may be too far gone for spiritual enlightenment. How could anyone see Trump as a saviour? Could you?

Goldberg also said this about that astonishing event:

 

“This gathering was not merely an attempted coup but also a mass-delusion event, not something that can be explained adequately through the prism of politics. Its chaos was rooted in psychological and theological phenomena, intensified by eschatological anxiety. One man I interviewed this morning, a resident of Texas who said his name was Don Johnson (I did not trust this to be his name), told me that the country was coming apart, and that this dissolution presaged the End Times. “It’s all in the Bible,” he said. “Everything is predicted. Donald Trump is in the Bible. Get yourself ready.

The conflation of Trump and Jesus was a common theme at the rally. “Give it up if you believe in Jesus!” a man yelled near me. People cheered. “Give it up if you believe in Donald Trump!” Louder cheers.

 

Watching the events unfold on TV in real time, I noticed a number of signs from Trump supporters that conflated Trump and Jesus. One sign said just that: “Jesus and Trump.” What kind of a Christian would see anything Christian about Trump?

As I have been saying in my posts, speaking lies and untruth has consequences. The United States saw that today. America has a long way to go before delusions can be turned into a sudden spiritual manifestation. But that is precisely what the country needs.

 

How Much Truth Can you Stand?

 

Nietzsche did not always get it right, but sometimes he hit the mark dead on. He hit the mark when he said, “a man’s worth is determined by how much truth he can stand.” But sometimes the truth is just hard to bear. That’s why it’s worth so much.

What Nietzsche said about individuals is also true of countries–their worth too depends on how much truth they can stand and frankly, most of them can’t stand very much. The United States and Canada are pretty good examples.

After the storming of the Capitol, the so-called sacred hall of American democracy, Joe Biden had this to say in his calm reassuring tone of voice so pleasant after 4 years of Trump’s hysterics:

“Let me be absolutely clear, the scenes of chaos in the Capitol do not reflect the true character of America; do not represent who we are.”

Is he right? Violence for political ends is particularly American. Entitled white men demanding their rights, while denying those of so many others is exactly who they are. People harbouring crazy beliefs without evidence is what Americans do best. Did you see the Qanon Shaman in the video of the Capitol under siege dressed in animal skins, a fur hat with horns, spear, face painted in the colours of the American flag, shirtless chest covered with hostile looking tattoos, chanting “USA’ over and over again with his fellow rabble-rousers? He looked pretty American. Where else could he be from?

 

A host of politicians and pundits after the rampage repeated “We are better than this,” or “This is not who we are.” I beg to differ. This is exactly who they are.

The New York Times posted an amazing video that did tell the truth. It said no one should be surprised at what happened. The speaker on the video pointed out the pictures in the rotunda behind the occupiers. They showed American soldiers (or at least their British ancestors) forcing native American women and children to submit to their dominance. The speaker on the video said,

“We have always been like this. America is a nation built on stolen land by stolen people. And if the rampage feels historic it’s because violence is in our national DNA. A mob razed a whole block in Philadelphia because they didn’t like the election results.”

 

America is a country where as soon as slaves were freed the rules of elections were changed to ensure that their voting would never disturb the real American choices made by their white superiors. It is a country where people don’t really believe in democracy at all, but they love to brag about it. They don’t believe in democracy because they only want the votes their own side to count. Where districts are twisted into impossible shapes so that the votes of opponents don’t count so much.

As the Times video said,

“And for the purest expression of the American way, just look at the man responsible for Wednesday’s violence–the man who leads by Twitter who knows that if you have enough money they’ll let you do anything. He told us who he was and we picked him, because this is exactly who we are. America the land of the snake oil salesman.”

 

You think snake oil is too harsh? Does that not describe the president who said he would lead the group of insurgents into the Capitol and then returned instead to the comfort of the White House to watch the proceedings on his big screen television?

To say, as Biden did, that the scene of chaos at the Capitol does not describe them is absolutely false. It is an uncomfortable truth, but as the Times video said, his “platitudes spin a fantasy as absurd as Qanon.” It is painful to admit but America prefers fantasies to hard truths. As the video pointed out,

“We can only realize our strengths if we stop whitewashing our sins. We are a nation forged in racist violence. A society that values wealth over wisdom. A country where personal ambitions mean more than morality. Masked with false piety where citizens wreak havoc with the very institutions that enable them.”

 

Now there is a new president. Many look to him as their saviour. I love Joe Biden. He’s dull, he’s boring, and I hope he won’t be a strong leader. That’s my kind of leader. But unlike Nietzsche, Biden got it wrong. He got it all wrong when he said, “this is not America.”

I am not saying this everything they are. The are fine people on both sides. Americans are also people who work together to get things done, giving a helping hand to a fallen friend, or even in some cases, a fallen foe. But these other Americans seem to have been silent for so long. Where were they when they elected a mean-spirited, cruel, and relentless bigot?

Not that Canadians are very different let me hasten to add. We have built this country by stealing land from the inhabitants contrary to promises we have not fulfilled. Often Canadians do this without resorting to war. We often have subtler and more corrupt ways of doing the same thing. We have sent  Indigenous children to schools where they were brutally assaulted in the name of “civilization” and “religion.” We are governed by unjustified beliefs as much as our neighbours to our south. Our claims to piety ring hollow. Just as it does for the Americans.

The video claims that everything we saw on January 6, as ugly as it was, was exactly who they are— because it’s the product of what they have always been. Until Americans and Canadian face that truth, we’ll never change it.

 

A president spirals out of control

 

On January 4, 2021, the day before a crucial run-off vote to determine which party would control the Senate for at least the next 2 years, Donald Trump appeared at a rally in Georgia ostensibly to assist two candidates for the U.S. Senate, but the rally was marked by lying that even by Trump standards wildly overshot his own standards. He did this because on January 6, 2021 the joint houses of the American Congress were to meet to approve or reject the votes by the Electoral College, which gave Biden the victory. Trump’s minion, Mike Pence would have the job of “presiding” over the joint meeting of both Houses, but the job is ordinarily ceremonial. At this rally Trump said he would like Pence “a lot less” if he did not do what Trump wanted. Somehow he thought Pence could manipulate things so that the votes of the Electoral College could be overturned in his favour.

Trump may also be desperate to avoid becoming the subject of numerous House of Representatives or Department of Justice investigations that are being contemplated.

These two forces seem to have driven Trump completely out of control. Here is what Daniel Dale, CNN’s Trump fact-checker who probably rarely sleeps, had to say about Trump’s speech the day before that meeting after Don Lemon asked him what stood out about that speech:

“What stood out was that the speech was like from an alternate universe. The president is not even remotely connected to reality. Either he’s lying, his brain has been completely captured by internet weirdos, or both. And frankly as a fact-checker I’m bored. Like have you ever sat at a family gathering or at a bar or on a date that had someone just talk your ear off with complete nonsense like for an hour and you feel like you can’t escape? That’s all of us right now because that’s the president right now. He said over and over that he had won the election by a landslide. He lost the election. He said over and over that the other side engaged in mass cheating, stealing, forging, ballot dumping, none of which happened. He stood there and read, this is not ad-libbed, this is reading from a teleprompter, imaginary statistics about voting in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. It’s all wrong. It’s all debunked by fact-checkers. It’s all dismissed by the courts. On and on. It hardly feels worth it to get into the details of this, though it’s actually my job and I get paid for it. I do think it’s worth getting into some of the false claims he made about the Democratic Georgia candidates. Of course we have an election tomorrow. For example, he claimed that Raphael Warnock talked about ‘opening up the jails.’ If you go back and watch that full clip in context when Warnock last year talked about releasing prisoners who were arrested for marijuana offences in particular, not just letting all criminals out. Jon Ossoff is part of the crusade to defund the police. John Ossoff is on record for months over and over saying he opposes defunding the police, he wants police reform. This was just a wildly dishonest speech. One of the worst honestly I have ever heard from the president.”

 

Of course those lies had consequences. Trump was not able to fire up enough Georgian voters to get his candidates elected. He may though have fired up the Democrats enough to come out in droves to vote against them. As well he may have been effective in getting his supporters to show up on January 6 for a rally in front of the White House from where he would “lead” them to the Capitol. He turned out he led them from the rear, but he they were fired up enough to wreak havoc. The Capitol was invaded by his followers. Lies have consequences. Sometimes those consequences are serious.

More Brave Defenders of the Truth

Before the riot in the Capitol, and after Brad Raffensperger the Republican Secretary of State for Georgia stood up to Trump, another Republican also did himself proud. This was Gabriel Sterling the Georgia Voting System Implementation Manager. One day after Trump unsuccessfully failed to bully Raffensperger to do his illegal bidding, based on a basket of lies, Gabriel Sterling patiently and methodically went through Trump’s lies line by line, demolishing each Trump claim about voter fraud and voting irregularities. Sterling is another Republican official who stood up for the truth.

Sterling also made it clear that he believed the Trump team was intentionally trying to mislead the Georgia State Senate and the public. They had all the information to know that their claims were false but continued to make them in order to try to keep Trump in office. Clearly the Trump team, with their bosses agreement, was trying to undermine public faith in the electoral system. That is often the first step toward fascism.

CNN asked their fact checker Daniel Dale to review the famous telephone call Trump and his chief of staff and legal team made to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Here is what Dale said about that call and others:

“Nothing the president of the United States is saying about the election is true. I’ve said over and over again on CNN that the president is a serial liar, but he usually sprinkles in some truth amid the lies. Since election night it has been all nonsense. It true about Georgia, it true about Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. He’s spouting conspiracy theories either deliberately or because his brain has been captured by weird people on the internet, I don’t know. The media likes to describe this as a debate or a feud. There is no 2 sides here. One side we has facts and other side we have lies.”

The key issue of course is what will the Republican Party, and even more importantly the American people, do about Trump’s slide to untruth and fascism? Steve Schmidt a former Republican and advisor to Republican John McCain has described the modern Republican Party as “an American autocratic movement with Fascistic markers.” Stuart Stevens another Republican has said this about his own party:

“The bottom line is that the @GOP has become a threat to democracy. I spent decades helping elect members of the party and it’s painful to admit. But it’s a clear and present danger and should be treated as such.”

Finally and most importantly what about the American public. 70 million or more Americans voted for Trump in 2020. Are they prepared to put up with  this tsunami of lies? There is significant evidence that they will. Most of us don’t want to believe it. But we have to beware of the truth of this statement made by John Cassidy: “This is primarily Trump’s work, but it’s not just Trump’s work. Not by a long shot.

Even if Trump leaves the Oval office, this is far from over.

A Call to Arms: Inciting Violence

 

I prepared this post last night (January 5, 2021) in anticipation of the Joint meeting of the 2 houses of the US Congress and Trump’s comments I heard on the television):

 

Trump appeared at a rally in Georgia on January 4, 2021 ostensibly to support 2 Republican candidates for the US Senate, but, of course, he could not hold back on efforts to promote his own special cause of overcoming his defeat in the election in November. In fact Trump went so far it seemed like he was inciting his supporters to get violent to support him. At least it certainly could be characterized that way.

Here is what Amy Davidson Sorokin said in an article in the New Yorker,

“Trump is not fighting for his legacy but to unconstitutionally and criminally hold on to a position that he has already lost. In typical Trump style, he is doing so, in part, by calling his opponents the real crooks: “The Democrats are trying to steal the White House—you cannot let them!” he said in Dalton.

But what does that injunction mean for Trump supporters who are not elected officials or judges? What plate does Trump expect them to step up to? He wanted them to vote for Perdue and Loeffler, but that wouldn’t be enough. In the course of the rally, he warned that if “we don’t do something fast,” there will never be another free election and the United States will succumb to “communism.” “If you don’t fight to save your country with everything you have, you’re not gonna have a country left,” he said. He appeared to be past caring whether anyone listening heard that as a call to violence. The system is corrupt, he said, it is rigged, his supporters have a mission. “We have to go all the way, and that’s what’s happening,” Trump said. “You watch what happens over the next couple of weeks, you watch what’s going to come out, watch what’s going to be revealed.” The crowd cheered, and did so again a moment later when he said, “They’re not taking this White House; we’re going to fight like hell.What else did they need to hear?”

 

To people who love their country and hate communism with passion, this is a call to save the country from people who are trying to steal it. Would such people, if properly coached not be willing to join a war to defend it? Is this not a call to war?

Going to the Worst Places in the World

 

Often I hear people say the pandemic is nothing. I find that hard to understand. Recently, I heard an astonishing interview with an astonishing person on Amanpour & Company. The interviewee was a travelling crisis nurse called Chelsea Walsh. She travelled around the United States to many different states when they were in the worst crisis ever. She went to New York, Arizona and Texas when they were all at crisis stages. If a Covid crisis was spiking in one state that’s where she went. She went to the worst places, at the worst times, and she did it deliberately and intentionally. She must be crazy.

Why did she go? “I knew that people needed help and I wanted to help them,” she said. This reminded me of the Russian union men who went to Chernobyl and then went right into the contaminated centre of the storm, knowing they would die, because they were Russians and Russians suffered and they were asked to help they helped. That’s it. Crazy heroes.

Walsh went at great personal risk to herself. Many health care workers in the US have contracted Covid-19 and have died. Yet she did it anyway. She had the support of her fellow professionals, her supervisors, the hospital, the management, and most important the people. The Communities supported her. Until they didn’t. First some stopped listening to her and her colleagues. They thought they knew more than the professionals. They “knew” Covid-19 was no big deal. This over confidence led to more cases than there should have been. This nearly overwhelmed her and her fellow professionals.

The US at this stage when Walsh talked had more than 260,000 deaths from this disease. 12 &1/5 million people were infected. What do people think is unreal about this illness? Why do they not take this seriously? Walsh compares these people to people that have been warned by meteorologists that a lightning storm is on the way and it can be dangerous, so be careful and stay out of the storm. Some people run into the storm with a lightning rod in their arms saying “we don’t believe in lightning.” How is that possible? Walsh asked, “How do you convince people who don’t believe in lightning that lightning is real?”

One day Walsh ran out of the hospital at the end of her day exhausted and crying. A young woman had come into the ICU with Covid-19 “bleeding profusely from her nose, her eyes, her vagina. Everywhere. Then you realize this is something that is contagious. When you leave the hospital you might have it.” The woman had bled out. Screaming. Walsh said, “Whatever she had I don’t want that.” Whatever it was, it was real.

When she sees a young woman in such horrific condition and she realizes that could be her lying in that bed it is deeply disturbing. She pointed out that nurses like her develop a bond with their patients. Neither of them can go home to their families. They are alone in the hospital as is the nurse. They are together all the time. “It is like watching a friend die,” she said.

Then when she talks to the family they often have panic attacks. Some of them did not believe Covid was real. They did not realize how serious this illness is. Some have significant guilt because they gave it to the patient who died.

Walsh has therapy once a week now because of all she has seen, said and had to do. She is suffering from “Covid PTSD” as she calls it. A lot nurses of nurses are developing it. The nurses talk about it all the time. They have empathy with their patients. Now all around them patients are dying.

Walsh said,

“A lot of these places don’t have enough support staff anymore. They have all quit or been fired. It’s now mainly doctors and nurses on the ground floor. In some places the doctors won’t even help anymore; they won’t even go into the rooms anymore. It’s still up to the nurses, and we felt from the very beginning most of us that talked about it we’ve pretty well been sacrificed. Our lives would be worth less than everybody else from the beginning by being told only we could go in to see the patients. So there is a constant fear of ‘why us’? And again, when it going be to our turn to be in that hospital bed?”

As if that is not bad enough in some places they don’t have the PPE they need or the supplies they need. They are not getting the support they need. Sometimes they are running out of medications or supplies they have to rationed. Imagine the decisions they have to make!

At the same time the nurse/patient ratio is going up and this is what kept them alive. That means they have less time to spend with each person.

Added to that, “a lot of risky things have happened and are happening that make the entire situation very unstable and very unsafe right now.”

These are all things that make it very different from seasonal flu spikes. Those are bad and they stress hospitals and care workers too, but nothing like this. This is different!

Walsh was asked what hospitals should be doing:

“Right now what people should be concentrating on is protecting their nurses, because once we’re gone there is no more hospital standing, because without us there is nobody to do the skills. These hospitals are already turning into these ghost town situations where there’s not enough staff to take care of a hospital. And we’re doing our best. In some places I’ve had to do housekeeping; I’ve had to be the secretary; I’ve had to be the pharmacist. I’ve had to do every job in the hospital because nobody else is working. And then the doctors still won’t go into these rooms and we have to do doctor’s assessments. So nurses are literally picking up all the fields that are leaving the hospital and if we’re gone and we’re not protected the hospital can’t stand. So right now the highest priority hospitals should have is protecting their nurses, because we’re keeping the hospital standing.”

This is what an overwhelmed hospital looks like. People who won’t wear masks or wont’ wash their hands or won’t believe in Covid-19 should really pay attention. People who don’t think the pandemic is a big deal should think again. This is real.

As Hari Sreenivasan asked, “why is it that nurses are telling us that people are literally dying without believing the very thing that is killing them?” Walsh, I believe has the right answer, “Because everything became politicized. Politics invited itself into medicine and then divided everything.” When politics came in it caused people to choose sides. They say, “my side” does not believe in Covid. So I will stick to my side no matter what. That is the way polarized politics works. People choose sides rather than the truth.

Walsh says that instead of listening to their doctors and nurses, people listen to their political leaders who don’t care about them and, even worse, don’t know what they are talking about. The nurses also also hate wearing masks at all times. They also care about the economy. They also want to go to the bar after work. But they also care about their patients and want this thing to be over. No one wants it to be over more than him or her. Listen to them. As Walsh said, “If anyone wants an unbiased opinion ask your nurse or doctor.”

Anti-vax memes myth the mark

 

Confession: the Winnipeg Free provided me with that snappy title.

Today is December 20,2020 so you can expect crazy things. Besides the serial 20s,  this is my birthday. Yikes.

Today, I read a fascinating article by Joel Keilman in the Winnipeg Free Press  that reflected on exactly the issues I have been blogging about of late. The issues are truth, lies, and ethics. The article commented on some of the myths surrounding the vaccines that have now been developed and appeared in Manitoba this week. It’s time for people who have lost confidence in science to come out. And they have come out.

The lies and falsehoods are spreading out and a credulous public is lapping them up like thirsty dogs. Keilman reported on a TikTok video like this,

“As a melodramatic song plays, Rousseau, young, blonde and elaborately mascaraed, silently portrays a woman beaten to death for refusing to take a vaccine that contains a microchip carrying the mark of the beast. At the end, she enters a heavenly skyscape emblazoned with the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.

The video has been seen more than 680,000 times, garnered 47,000 likes and, despite thousands of mocking comments (“Ma’am, this is a CVS”), earned plenty of positive reviews.

“This is so incredibly powerful,” one viewer wrote.”

Unsurprisingly, in our polarized world, thousands of people have been inspired by this video to praise the Lord and thousands have been inspired to mock the gullible. In this case at least, I think it is clear which side got it right.

Here are some of the myths (that is really too kind a word) people are spreading on line:

  1. The vaccine contains a microchip

Apparently this one has been around for years, but has been amplified recently. People fear that microchips have been secretly implanted in vaccines so that the government can keep track of you. People worry about this rather than the device everyone carries that can actually be used to do this—smart phones. This conspiracy theory has been spread by many, including in particular Alex Jones and InfoWars, the conspiracy theorist Trump loved so much. Supposedly Bill Gates is also involved as is 5G technology.

Other myths include these:

  1. The vaccine will alter your DNA
  2. The vaccine will give you COVID-19
  3. Our immune systems are better than vaccines

There are others but you get the idea.

The anti-vax movement has been strong and I suspect is growing stronger in recent years. According to Keilman’s article a recent poll showed that only 47% of Americas intend to take the vaccines. The percentages of Canadians are probably not that far behind. I know people who say they won’t take a vaccine. They are suspicious of it. There are some reasons to be wary, primarily related to the surprising speed of the development and approval of the vaccines and particularly to fear that the current American president may have had his foot on the accelerator.

The problem is that society needs people to trust the vaccines. Particularly because the vaccine’s have such a high efficacy rate, wide- spread use of them could bring about herd immunity soon and that would be a tremendous benefit for millions of people and our health care systems and workers. The vaccines’ high efficacy rate, much higher than that of flu shots, could swiftly bring about herd immunity that would prevent people from encountering the virus at all.  But if people are afraid to take the vaccines because of the lies they are fed on the internet all of us will suffer. Even those who take the vaccines because we all pay for our health care system and many of us won’t get the proper treatment because of unnecessary Covid cases in hospitals.

And this brings me to the point I have been trying to make. These credulous people are not innocent. They are dangerous! They are dangerous to public health. In times of a public health crisis we need to trust science, we need to respect the truth and the truth gathering process. We need to be suspicious of crazy stuff we find online. The misinformation being spread on the internet is dangerous. Fomenting distrust in public institutions as so many are now doing, including political leaders, is a dangerous and costly to us all. That is why irrational beliefs are not innocent. We should not tolerate them. We should voice that intolerance quietly and respectfully without scapegoating, but we should not keep quiet.

Beliefs have consequences. Therefore they are not all ethical.