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American Arrogance and Ignorance Is a Resounding Death Knell

Donney Rose
Jul 19, 2020 - 11:00

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Death knell: the tolling of a bell to mark someone’s death

“…The likelihood that more cases of COVID-19 would mean that more people would die from the disease has always been very high. Even at the low point for deaths in the U.S., roughly 500 people died each day, on average. Now, with the national death numbers rising once again, there’s simply no argument that America can sustain coronavirus outbreaks while somehow escaping fatalities. America’s deadly summer coronavirus surge is undeniable. And it was predictable this whole time by looking honestly at the data.”

– Alexis C. Madrigal, “A Second Coronavirus Death Surge Is Coming,” The Atlantic

Let’s start with an honest admission that by all accounts this summer has denied a great deal of scientific logic. There was a studied assumption that warmer weather would be beneficial in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, as clinical trials showed scientists that simulated sunlight should have been a major factor in making the virus inactive. Of course, this calculation likely considered the vast majority of Americans adhering to social distancing, wearing facial coverings and generally being decent, selfless human beings.

But it is mid-July and none of those factors have really manifested, because Americans were out here being ‘Murican.

So here we are, past the midway point of 2020 with no curve flattening on the horizon for some of the most impacted areas. In fact, since the top of July, several states such as Texas, Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma have seen an astronomical uptick in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The governor of Oklahoma even contracted the virus. And it is not based on our lack of access to information about protecting ourselves. Nor is it that we have been starved of PSAs on hand-washing and maintaining six feet of distance. Nor is it that everyone tuned out news reports of fatalities or have not known some of the bodies that have been reported about.

It’s simply that many Americans have been obnoxiously arrogant/willfully ignorant for the greater good of everyone else, thus the summer surge in new cases is the cost we are collectively paying.

As of this writing, an estimated 3.5 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus since the beginning of March and nearly 140,000 U.S. citizens have died. Back in early spring, there appeared to be a measure of seriousness about the pandemic that, unlike the virus itself, has dissipated during the summer months. More than anything, it seems as if too many Americans have become exhausted with the concept of COVID and decided to take their chances gallivanting about mask-less and unbothered. 

There has also been much cultural commentary about how many white Americans, upon learning statistics of COVID-19’s disproportionate death toll on Black Americans, found themselves feeling freer to roam. The assumption being that because many of them were not genetically or systemically predisposed to the conditions of the virus that were killing Black folks, they felt no need to sit on their hands to wait the pandemic out. Critics of the Black Lives Matter movement were looking to blame this summer of uprising and protests as the conduit for new cases, but what proved to be more of a causation than masked protesters were bodies frolicking about on non-distant, densely populated beaches, and at “Covid parties” attended by the American majority.

None of this should have played out the way it has, but much of America’s cultural identity is anchored in an invincibility/superiority complex to other nations, therefore America/Americans have been its/their own worst enemy in reducing COVID transmission.

Before the earliest reported cases of COVID-19, the American public, and most importantly American leadership, dismissed the pandemic as a crisis that would bear minimal if any impact on the United States. America was slow to implement social distancing measures and spent much of the critical earlier months of the onslaught of COVID-19 steeped in partisan divide over whether it was real or not. And where several developed nations around the world have gained a solid handle on the spread of the virus, America is currently reporting upwards of 30,000 new cases per day, whereas the European Union, for example, is at roughly ten percent of America’s numbers in new cases.

Of course, much of America’s apathetic approach to proactively mitigating the spread of COVID starts at the top. The American president, Donald J. Trump, spent an extended amount of time either in denial of expert predictions, spewing xenophobic rhetoric about the virus, and generally being loud and wrong. In other words, being himself. The impact of his arrogance/ignorance created a ripple effect among conservative politicians all over the country who took a similar position of inaction. 

Battle lines around issues such as mandated face coverings in public became a signifier of where an official’s politics aligned. Rather than adhere to scientific expertise, several Republican politicians were looking to disprove what they believed to be sensationalism by the Anthony Fauci’s of the world, and many Democratic leaders were timid in making protective demands in areas they governed. 

Far too many ‘real Americans’ got entangled in the idea of their liberties being trampled on, an asinine rationale largely promoted by their elected officials. Unfortunately, several constituents of COVID deniers have paid the ultimate price for the laissez-faire attitude of the local and federal government. What’s worse is the effect their denial has had on vulnerable members of their community who were infected on account of their social negligence. An innumerable amount of Americans not only supported the indifference of their leaders but felt so emboldened by the delusion of “American strength,” they assumed they could weather a “seasonal” inconvenience that they relegated to nothing more severe than a typical flu.

That conceit has led to a plethora of family-only funeral services. 

Perhaps the most ominous thing to consider about this summer’s spike in coronavirus cases is that it does not set America up for a promising fall and winter. Experts reported several months ago that an unmitigated COVID mixed with the seasonal flu of colder months could be a recipe for disaster. The summer season afforded us the opportunity to spend more time outdoors, despite days of record-setting heat. The winter season brings a higher amount of indoor activities which subjects more people to droplets circulating in climate-controlled settings. And with a hasty emphasis on children returning to schools this fall, America could sadly witness scores of students be its next primary demographic of casualties.

None of this is to mention what could be a disastrous impact on the holiday season with respect to travel, commerce and the emotional distress of seeing family members either infirmed or deceased on account of the virus.

So what impact has this grim summer season really had on the American hubris? Will the outcome of this infected summer produce the cautious humility necessary to move this country away from further harming itself? It’s hard to answer in the affirmative as there are still folks out here protesting their rights to sit in dive bars next to each other

We can mute the death knell if we choose to. I’m just not so sure how exhausted we have grown from its sound.

5 Replies to “American Arrogance and Ignorance Is a Resounding Death Knell”

  1. “As of this writing, an estimated 3.5 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus since the beginning of March and nearly 140,000 U.S. citizens have died.”

    Let’s see: Out of a population of 330 MILLION people, 3.5 million have contracted, 140,000 have died (%?, confirmed-covid?, suspected-covid?, covid-related?, covid-co-morbidity?), and the rest have recovered. Compared to how many deaths from flu, and other co-morbidities, in previous years?

    It’s interesting how the same States (Texas, Florida) are referred to over and over and over again. What’s going on in other States like New Hampshire, Vermont, South Dakota that don’t have mandatory mask policies, what are their covid statistics? What about nations like Finland, Rwanda, Cuba, what are their covid statistics? And whatever happened to China? Is it that none of these alternate locations have covid statistics sufficiently scary to browbeat the American people into submission?

    All hail: Cuomo the Christ traveling around the country to save us from covid.

  2. Miss Murray:

    I felt compelled to respond to you personally, which is something I hardly ever do.

    You exhibit precisely the kind of arrogance that Mr. Rose speaks of. I am a Respiratory Therapist with a decade of experience. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and, considering the way in which this particular virus is spread, face coverings and social distancing are among the things that have helped keep the spread of this thing from being MUCH WORSE. I have spent time in units where people DO NOT come back from being sick, but, I suppose, actual human suffering, if it isn’t your own, doesn’t matter to you. Unlike you, I have a working knowledge of the terms “[place illness here]-related”, “comorbidity”, “confirmed” and “suspected”.

    The fact that you have gone out of your way to post “statistics” is just an attempt to distract from the message. You have communicated, loud and clear, that you care only about your own needs. Just because a state may not have mandatory mask wearing in place does not keep people from wearing them. Here’s a statistic for you: the rise in new cases is coming from people who are NOT practicing any of the safety measures that have been suggested by the CDC. As far as how other states and countries are faring, I’m sure you could find out by doing a Google search, but that would mean taking time away from your selfishness and learning something.

    The point of this piece was not to make selfish white people feel comfortable. The purpose was to communicate the all-too-real toll on our Black citizens and POC, and the racism involved in selfish white people choosing their ‘rights’ over their responsibility in helping keep EVERYONE safe until this thing gets sorted out. In the Preamble to the Constitution, there is a line about “promoting the general welfare”, which means we have a duty to look out for one another…or maybe that doesn’t matter to you.

  3. Dear semperp2007,
    I’m honored that you “felt compelled to respond”.

    “The fact that you have gone out of your way to post “statistics” is just an attempt to distract from the message. You have communicated, loud and clear, that you care only about your own needs. Just because a state may not have mandatory mask wearing in place does not keep people from wearing them. Here’s a statistic for you: the rise in new cases is coming from people who are NOT practicing any of the safety measures that have been suggested by the CDC. As far as how other states and countries are faring, I’m sure you could find out by doing a Google search, but that would mean taking time away from your selfishness and learning something.”

    Anti-Journalism 101: Don’t let the facts get in the way of an agenda. Donny Rose could have done a Google search before he blew his opinion out his butt and tried to make it seem righteous.
    When the facts are not on your side, appeal to people’s basic fear of dying, jerk their emotions, demean, insult, and call people who don’t agree with you names like “arrogant”, “ignorant”, “selfish” because that makes you seem so…so…what’s the word I’m looking for….intelligent?

    Thanks for your response.

  4. Why wasn’t your “journalistic response” to this respiratory therapist (who is in the midst of helping saving lives) the data you want so many to see and know? I make it point to view the data globally not just in the USA.

    Funny you call her out for the very tactics (appealing to basic fear of dying, etc) that so many republican minded folks perfected as strategy and use all the time.

    I think arrogance/selfishness is a good word for the actions of those folks who refuse the most minimal things that each of us can do to help each other and that will set us on the path to a real opening up of our country.

    I think the biggest example of the arrogance/selfishness of it all is because these people continue to disregard efforts to do the minimal things to keep us safe, we are exposing and killing so many of our health care workers and first responders who continue to work in this environment.

  5. “…those folks who refuse the most minimal things that each of us can do to help each other…”

    How about those folks who are scared shitless STAY HOME that way everybody else can go on about their business?
    “No one but you is responsible for your health” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo; and no one has the right to try to pull everyone else down into their fears.

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