I already commented how America has abandoned reason. By that I mean to include much of the west, but not always as excessively as America, who seems particularly susceptible to dumbed down politics.
Of course, we have abandoned more than reason. We have also abandoned compassion. Nowhere is that more evident than in America, the self-proclaimed leader of the free world. In that country compassion has been shredded. That has become sickeningly obvious in 2020 with the Covid-19 crisis.
As New York Times commentator, Charles Blow, put it: “This crisis is exposing the savagery of American democracy.” So far, during this crisis the power elite have showed no compunction about putting the poor at the leading edge of danger.
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times quoted a 75-year old retiree from his home state of Minnesota who decried this evolution. This is what she said to the Washington Post:
“We were the leading country in everything when I was young…And what are we now? We’re mean. We’re selfish. We’re stubborn and sometimes even incompetent. … It seems like some of these other countries almost feel sorry for us. … We can’t get out of our own way. … There’s no leadership and no solidarity, so everybody’s doing whatever they want … which means everyone who’s vulnerable is losing big.”
Friedman blamed the Republican Party and its erratic leader:
This erosion of our collective societal immunity has been fed by many sources over the years, but none more than a Republican Party that has simply jumped the tracks. Donald Trump’s election was a byproduct of our lost immunity, but his leadership has now become a giant accelerant of it.
At a time when we desperately need to be guided by the best science, Trump’s daily fire hose of lies, and his denunciations of anything he doesn’t like as “fake news,” has contributed mightily to the loss of our “cognitive immunity” — our ability to sort out truth from lies and science from science fiction.
At a time when we need a globally coordinated response to a pandemic, Trump has wrecked every alliance we have.
At a time when we need high social trust in order to have a coordinated response at home, Trump’s political strategy of dividing us and playing everything both ways — even telling people both to rise up against their governors and to lock down according to his guidelines — is the opposite of the “all in this together” approach we need to win this battle.
Sometimes the current administration in the U.S. is doing everything it can do to make things even worse during a pandemic. As this plays out Trump is quietly working to leave many of the front line workers, health care workers high and dry when it comes to health care. At least he is trying to do that. It seems incomprehensible but he is trying to take health care away from millions of Americans who started receiving health care insurance as a result of President Obama’s Affordable Care by challenging it in court. Trump’s administration has brought a case asking the court to through out Obama care entirely and That case is about to go to the Supreme Court this year.
As Friedman said,
At a time when access to affordable health care is extra-important — when frontline workers need to know that if they go to work and fall ill, they will have some safety net to protect them — Trump has been trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act enacted by President Barack Obama without even thinking through an alternative.
It seems crazy but all of this is playing out right now during a pandemic.
1 thought on “Savagery Exposed: Empathy Shredded”
I just re-read “War of the Worlds”. There is a point where the protagonist is trapped, in hiding, with a local curate. They are near to a group of Martians and witness first-hand their alien cruelty and military might. The curate is a garrolous, self-indulgent man and despite his occupation, he has little mental defence against the oppressive evil of the invaders. He lacks grit. As he degenerates, he wallows in self-pity and steals from the limited ration of food and water they have. The stress drives him insane and he becomes loud and irrational. His shouting and lack of reason force the protagonist into the most horrible of predicaments: he must silence the curate or both of them will be captured and literally consumed by the ever-vigilant, merciless Martian overlords.
With the Martians now aware of their presence, the protagonist takes irreversible measures to save his own life and silence the cries of the mad curate. He survives only to face other tests and dilemmas, ultimately outlasting the Martians who succumb, ironically, to the many microscopic germs that flourish on our green planet.
H.G. Wells masterpiece takes place in Leatherhead, not Mar-a-Lago or D.C., but offers ample opportunities for parable construction. I’m against violence but I sure hope the American electorate can bring down the hammer when the time comes, in November.