Covid not sole contagion to infect society
May 14, 2020
To The Eagle:
“The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.” --H.L. Mencken
Covid-19 is the most contagious example yet to arise in recent history with a death rate of 30 percent for those over 70. Without comprehensive testing and a way to contact-trace, only social distancing offers a clear path to stymie this disease.
The recent outbreak at Bornsteins in Astoria shows that even our lightly populated part of the state can be vulnerable.
Yet for some even the reality of a contagion must be denied, must be a hoax, if it offends one’s politics.
Considering that modern civilization was built upon enlightenment values of reason and factual discourse, it has been sad to see many people embrace hatred of government, expertise and knowledge, and become contemptuous of common sense and civility.
But if you can’t win a debate on the merits just invent your own set of facts, rile up grievance and mistrust or best of all just declare that there are no facts at all, only personal beliefs. The most effective method is to simply hammer home that government itself is utterly incapable of responsible decision making and is an enemy of the people.
And ignore reality. Our nation and state has fundamentally changed, not by politicians but by a virus. The vast majority of people understand this, as polls show. Now we look to public officials and civic leaders to set rational guidelines for the workplace and public spaces and to help those most affected by economic hardship.
Jim Walsh, our state representative, recently helped organize a rally at the state capitol demanding that the governor immediately relax the stay-at-home order. “Give me liberty or give me covid-19!” read one sign at the rally. Walsh described contact tracing (practiced by human beings to combat plague since the beginning of time) as another “slip down that slippery slope of servitude.”
Walsh’s foolhardy comment is proof that covid isn’t the only contagion currently infecting our society. For too long we’ve tolerated this kind of irresponsible extremism, but we have a remedy. And as Orwell said, “A people that elect corrupt politicians, impostors, thieves and traitors are not victims... but accomplices.”