Disease-denying propaganda spews a pandemic of pandemonium!

We'll judge Trump Medieval Madness as we do other historic low points, like McCarthyism, interning the Japanese or 250 years of slavery plus a century of Jim Crow brutality.


Evolution on parade: The conscious survive, dingbats play Russian roulette

Microbes are re-invigorating the dicey notion “survival of the fittest”—personal and political. Are we not sharing front row seats to the decline and fall of the Trump White House, this week rife with medieval mayhem of gothic proportions? “Blithering idiocy” qualifies when the president calls a certifiable, extremist Houston doctor “impressive” and an “important voice.”

This physician (heal thyself!) not only pushes discredited hydroxychloroquine as miracle cure, but demon sperm (via sex and/or dreams) as disease conveyors all the while blaming “reptilian” lizard-people running government (and assuredly having unprotected sex – no mask!). What, you missed the headlines? Are evangelicals so snookered they’ll embrace even low-brow voodoo? Speaking of which, “pandemonium” identifies the capital of hell, literally “a concentration of evil demons.”

Hold your sides while right-wing trolls defend what’s equivalent to ingesting Clorox! Wonder how Trump will inevitably top this calculated outrage? He’s about to disprove Oscar Wilde’s quip there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Trump’s abuse of non-violent protestors or blaming China for the global pandemic are scam reactionary provocations. But to celebrate “impressive” practitioners invokes medieval bloodletting or burning witches at the stake. Well, bonfires at least saved on cremation costs.

Rarely does the entire world so confirm the obvious: wingnut ideology kills (and not in a good sense). Not from slime invasions, outside agitation or police violence, but ingesting folly that defies everything we know about germs. Death by smugness? The joyful “freedom” to infect yourself – or push grandmothers into the grave? The old line, “you’re asking for it – and you going to get it,” returns with force. Won’t headlines on demon sex restore our tawdry national reputation? Still standing by your ‘16 vote, Trumpers?

A true fable

Cave-dwelling heathens didn’t know to wash their hands, fear water-born pathogens or understand microbes wipe out immune systems, permanence of the tribe, even faith in higher or lower powers. Until the last two centuries, pandemics were blamed on “bad air” (miasmas, from rotting organic material, whence cometh “mal-aria”), invisible spore-like “seeds,” even spontaneous generation. Even today, fundamentalists fantasize demonic possession infects individuals (as above) while “divine wrath” explains how natural disasters punish evil, infidel miscreants. Remember Katrina and sinful New Orleans? Really, what other invisible forces command epic forces – and send such clear messages?

Just think: for 2000 years trained “doctors” practiced bloodletting (with leeches) to cure sickness, positing four humours from four organs dictated wellness and disease. And skeptics doubt the wonders of our modern times! Only 150 years ago, surgeons didn’t know careful hand-washing protected their patients against infection (if they survived crude operations). Life-saving antibiotics are about my age.

Today, a virulent pandemic achieves what our broken politics can’t: broadcasting dire, real-world outcomes when top Republicans utterly reject the modern age marvel: the advance of medical sciences. Instead of embracing progress, with a matchless record of banishing once devastating scourges, today’s medieval fundamentalism clings to treacherous pre-science disorders that reject simple disease prevention.

Sure, defy the “freedom-stealing” P.C. mask police, sneer at preventative hygiene, and violate self-isolation at every chance. Broadcast your god-given independence! Cough, cough! Who needs testing (a disease amplifier!?) or social tracing or avoiding crowds, indoors and out? Who needs vaccines? “Don’t tread on me – even when it saves my life.” That’s why parents tell errant children, “don’t run into the street, pet unknown animals, or take candy from smiling strangers.” And what are these indecent, life-changing violations of liberty – a featherweight face mask, social distancing, and washing your freaking hands. Dumb gets dumber, if not deader. MADA!

True exceptionalism

What endless White House negligence proves is how to assure doubling our already world fatality record: keep sneering at science. That ends up serving a true, unquenchable “demon,” whether deemed the Angel of Death or the Great Slayer, a.k.a. Axrael, Abaddon, Mot, Psychopomp (!), Santa Muerte, Shinigami, and Yama – alongside the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. You want demons galore to get us? Just impugn Dr. Fauci and crew as fake news experts.

Is this not a jaw-dropping distortion of “freedom,” as if free from knowledge, good public health policy, or our own lifespans? Laws inhibit personal “freedoms” all the time: highway speed limits, insurance requirements, laws on helmets or street-crossing, against hate crimes or sexual harassment. “Freedom” is not acting on your every urge or appetite: that way lies chaos. “Freedom’s just another way for nothing left to lose.”

Covid-19 is destroying not just lives but Trump’s unshakeable tunnel vision. The rightwing “freedom” of sneering at potent invisible microbes – blindly touting magical invulnerability – is just as certifiable as flat-earthers, gravity deniers, flaky mediums who “converse” with the dead, or doctors citing voodoo demon sex.

Making America sicker and sicker is no gift of freedom but belligerent myopia. Here, here, the U.S. has already won the Disease Olympics: our global gold medal is guaranteed. Is there a more onerous exposure at the core of the Trump Freedom Brigade – demanding the right to infect others?

True irrationality

Hats off to the idiot president and 11% of Americans who refuse to wear masks (oh, the misery!) or self-isolate (oh, the hardship!) or cleanse their hands after contact (oh, the time and bother!). Hats off to the less than 34% who endorse Trump’s “handling” of the pandemic, though what positives they identify is as mysterious as dark matter. I suppose we should count our blessings—over 66% (and growing) disapprove of having a Quack Doctor-in-chief. Higher by November, I bet.

In a year or two, or much less, savvy pundits will regard such deviant regression with incredulity. “What exactly made wearing a safety mask an issue? What’s the deal with social distancing if it saves lives? Why would any sane person resist sanitizing hands that touch faces? We’ll judge Trump Medieval Madness as we do other historic low points, like McCarthyism, interning the Japanese or 250 years of slavery plus a century of Jim Crow brutality.

What historian won’t conclude not only did Trump degrade the general welfare (except for surviving billionaires), but deserves perpetual pillorying, along with slavish governors, as mass sacrificers of innocents, the old, and dedicated health professionals? Since we struggle to understand current right-wing defiance to easily-applied medical advice, our progeny will match our befuddlement, stuck with invoking the nightmare dimensions of human nature that, like unbidden comets, periodically streak across the night sky. Oy vey!


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.