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The American right wing’s COVID insanity

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Molly Jong-Fast points out that, when it comes to battling the COVID pandemic, Republican politicians have placed a remarkably morbid and evil bet: That they can paint all serious attempts to combat the epidemic as a classic case of Big Left Wing Government Coming For Your Freedoms, without at the same time killing too many of their own voters in the process.

For awhile, this gamble seemed to be paying off, but then the DeSantis variant appeared:

In Florida, DeSantis has taken what can only be called a pro-COVID stance, suing cruise lines to try and stop them from using vaccine passports. That’s cutting off your nose to spite your face given the industry’s importance to the state, but the trolling was always the point. That’s why a defiant, some might say sadistic, DeSantis announced that “the Florida Board of Education could withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who defy the governor’s executive order prohibiting mask mandates” in a state that reported 134,506 new cases last week.

No wonder Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN this weekend, “The viral load in Florida is so high right now… that I think that if Florida were another country, we would have to consider banning travel from Florida to the United States.” Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis tweeted that, “Per NYT, ~1 out of every 945 people in Duval County, Florida (Jacksonville) is in a hospital bed tonight w/COVID. #1 highest in the USA.”

With COVID numbers way up, DeSantis’ numbers are down as he looks toward re-election and then, he hopes, a 2024 presidential run. It’s a game of chicken: Can he troll the libs without killing so many of his constituents that they turn on him?

If you’re not part of the cult, it’s extremely difficult to wrap your mind around the sheer nuttiness of the Republican base, which is now made up of people who quite genuinely believe that what are very moderate pandemic control measures — far less aggressive and invasive than what has been done in many other countries — represent some sort of hyper-nefarious power grab by the Democrat party tyrants, who are always looking for this sort of opportunity, and may well have created it by helping the Chinese develop the virus, and/or, as per Rand Paul, seeded it in various corners of the USA via the intentional importation of COVID-infected illegals.

Also too, the virus is harmless if you have a good immune system, so the whole idea that there even is a pandemic is a hoax.

Take a gander at these scenes from a school board meeting in Franklin, Tennessee, which is apparently one of the richest and whitest cities in the state:

I don’t know what the approved DSM-V term currently is, but these people are lunatics. And there are tens of millions like them, their minds poisoned by decades of rationality-destroying right wing propaganda.

And their nuttiness percolates throughout the broader culture, creating vaccine resistance and skepticism among many marginalized people, especially racial and ethnic minorities, who may have no allegiance to right wing ideology in general, but who often lack the requisite cultural capital to fully filter out the fantastic quantities of informational sewage that the right wing media complex pumps constantly into the social ecosystem.

On the other hand, sympathy has and should have limits. In particular, as ICU beds become increasingly scarce, I’d like to hear a moral argument for not conducting any necessary triage by barring initial access to the voluntarily non-vaccinated. I don’t doubt there all sorts of legal and professional ethical barriers to doing this, but that is absolutely what we should be doing as a society: if you choose not to get vaccinated, as medical resources become in short supply, you go to the back of the line, and stay there until everyone who chose to get vaccinated gets the treatment they need for whatever medical problems they may have.

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