In World War I, a German officer gave the following pep talk to Turkish troops standing in a couple feet of snow, “I know you don’t have coats and you don’t have shoes, but our enemy, the Russians, are really scared of you.”
In the midst of a devastating pandemic that is under much better control in other developed countries, who are seeing serious decreases over sustained time, one of the things those nations who have the best results in lowering infection have in common, the populations voluntarily wear masks when they’re out. The use of a mask is the most powerful tool we have to curtail this continued health crisis while treatments and vaccines are developed. Our national leader has turned this common sense, community-minded, simple act of wearing a mask into a political statement about himself.
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, joked that you can call COVID lots of things, like Kungflu. You could tell by his delivery that he thought that was a good one. He went on to share that he had urged officials to slow down testing so the numbers wouldn’t look as bad. His campaign said that was joking too.
What we know, for sure, is the leader of our country was joking about the virus, even if we only consider his use of a racist term to discuss a highly contagious, deadly disease that has already taken the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, and climbing. Let’s even accept the spin political aides are trying to sell, just for the sake of argument, Trump didn’t really ask officials to slow down testing; he was just joking.
Let’s go down that path. We have a president who is incapable of sincere empathy. Over one-hundred-thousand people have died in less than six months. How many families and friends have suffered as a result of each of those human beings being lost to them? This president is joking about this devastating, life-changing public health emergency.
Trump has been trying to convince his base that the virus is no big deal, and we’re moving on. He’s talked negatively about testing from the start. At first, he needed to convince himself and his sycophants that testing was “overrated” because they stumbled out of the gate and fell behind many major countries in development of an accurate test. Trump loves to point out he closed travel from China early on, but that’s all he did! He didn’t spend the next month learning about the impact this was going to have and getting everybody ramped up for the inevitable spread within our borders. He dismissively said there were only 15 cases and soon there would be none.
Recently, he has repeatedly “explained” to us that if there is less testing, there will be less cases. Seriously? Which brings us back to his statement that he urged officials to slow down testing. I don’t think he was joking. He has said as much on camera recently, complaining about testing producing too many cases. That is the OPPOSITE of caring for our citizens. Indeed, it is sacrificing people’s lives in an attempt to, in his opinion, look strong and unafraid – and, as a result, boost his poll numbers. Wearing a mask to encourage your followers to do the same, that would be strong and unafraid.
The pep talk we’re getting is, “I know hospitalizations and deaths are up in many areas and hospitals around the country are becoming overwhelmed, but we took care of the virus. It’s just fake news.” And we haven’t even started on his apathy regarding racial injustices being recognized by millions of people around the whole world.