More than 600,000 American soldiers died fighting the Civil War. Most of those deaths occurred after or outside the battles. More than 250,000 Americans have died during the current pandemic. The number could reach that of the Civil War deaths of soldiers. This tragedy reveals two related streaks of irrationality coming from American history – a preoccupation with ideology over sense and a cavalier attitude to science and experts.
The worst hit state is South Dakota. Its unrepentant Governor says ‘My people are happy because they are free.’ Civil rights are not much good for you if you are dead. Any law restricts freedom. It is ridiculous to object to a law on that ground. Saying that you do not want a law about masks because it violates your rights is in the same moral and intellectual plane as insisting on your freedom of movement by running a red light. Where I live, people prefer sense to ideology. If you go into a shop without a mask, you will not be served – and then you will be evicted. We have that law for the same reason we have laws about red lights – to stop our conduct causing other people to die.
Many fear that climate change is far more dangerous to humanity as a whole than the pandemic. A great many of American legislators are committed to the bible account of creation. They look to be rejecting science, but that is just another way of saying that they reject or ignore the evidence. Some bizarre notion of American exceptionalism or equality leads too many Americans to suspect experts. Once you reject science and the experts on the history of the planet, you can do so on its future. The result is the mad response to climate change by people who call themselves ‘conservatives.’ Then you get the same with the pandemic. This queer reaction to science is often linked to a queer view of religion. The so-called evangelicals have a lot to answer for on this – and Israel. Religion has had an impact on politics that would not be tolerated here – or I think any other part of the western world. And the American capacity to embrace falsehood goes back at least to the Declaration of Independence. The remark that all men are created equal was a dreadful lie. Their rationale for the rebellion was not much better. They rebelled because the mother country was taxing them. Tax is still a blot on their psyche. Jefferson listed their complaints against England. He managed to mention tax once, coming in at about number 20, after a lot of silly propaganda. Even then he got it wrong. He said that King George was responsible. The whole point of the English Revolution was that only the parliament could levy taxes.
We all have our odd failings, but these are shockingly lethal.
The 45th US president restored law and order by defending police against militant racists and nominating black-letter lawyers to the Supreme Court. He chipped away at left-wing orthodoxy in the public service and on campus by testing the limits of free speech. He demanded equal treatment in America by telling free-riding allies to boost their military spending and pay their fair share for defence. He called the bluff of bully states and withdrew U S money from the Paris agreement, which rewards totalitarian regimes with Western workers’ money. He protected Americans from illiberal enemies by closing the border to terrorist-producing states…….[She concludes] With a party that supports formal inequality, racist governance and political censorship about to form government, the battle for the American Dream has only just begun.
If Victoria has managed to eradicate the virus, at huge cost, it’s because there wasn’t much virus around in the first place.
The Australian, 10 November, 2020, Jennifer Oriel then Adam Creighton
As silly as the Americans referred to above. And just as dangerous.