Our inglorious human pathogen, “Agent Orange” aka Trump, could be as wily as the Coronavirus.  Just as the invisible microbe craves able bodied hosts in unsuspecting people to reproduce and spread its deadly intent, so too does the cretin at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. crave his sycophants.  “Leading” a posse of corrupt, inscrutable, and rank assholes, he is institutionalizing nepotism  by handpicking his motley crew from amongst his close family and friends, Wall Street, and Industry. All of them, brazenly emboldened by their gleeful intro to officialdom. Save a few exceptions, they are arrogant, and flush with ineptitude and malevolence, determined to dig even deeper, in spite of their obvious ignominy, callously prolonging and spreading this curse of a pestilence.

Their leader, meanwhile, without an iota of empathy, gratuitously talks down to a nation, that is reeling from shock, uncertainty, and grief. He conceitedly uses disingenuous and bland corporate speak…“The 4th Quarter will be fantastic!!” he spews, as if drumming up industry numbers for the benefit of an interminable and snake oil infested stock market, will somehow turn everything rosy and robust, curing all ills, human and economic.

As Fintan O Toole, the Irish writer so eloquently puts it, “The US went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages, precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world’s best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity, and most of the world’s leading technology corporations.  And yet, it managed to make itself the global epicenter of the pandemic.”

Why? In a nutshell, because powerful, sinister, and downright racist forces are cynically prodding a not too insignificant portion of the dominant culture, to pay heed to their individual rights, freedoms, and privileges over the sanctity of basic human life. Many of them, naively see the loss of these ill-conceived and anachronistic privileges as a loss of their very birthright and are willing to sacrifice the lives of others that don’t neatly fit into their preconceived notion of a “real” American.  On a tangential note, I even had a business consultant that I worked with a while back, write me a nasty email about how I was not, in his eyes, a “real” American. So, in a very tiny way, I too have experienced the small mindedness up close. Still some others, who are perhaps not as nasty and overt, use this very self-anointed license as if their precious lives take precedence over everyone else’s. They wear that privilege with a wink and a nod yet act all naive and oblivious to the obvious benefits that it clearly affords them.

The civil rights activist Peggy McIntosh talks about “the invisible, weightless knapsack of privilege”.  She says “Within this knapsack there are special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, passports, blank cheques [which] you carry around. You have no idea that it’s there, but you also have no idea of the privilege that whiteness affords you.” 

Peggy McIntosh

This is not meant as an indictment of all white people, as we all understand and can easily attest to the extreme levels of racism and prejudice inherent in a caste based and hierarchical system steeped and rampant in many parts of a country like India. What it does point to though, is the preferential treatment afforded a member of the dominant culture. Ok. a case in point about white privilege. C’mon, hand on heart people!!! Could you possibly ever witness a 25-year-old white male jogging through a community in America, chased and gunned down like an animal, as Ahmaud Arbery, a black man in Georgia was?  And apparently only brought to light after two whole months had passed, and that too only after an incriminating video had surfaced?  And to our horror we find out, that the local public prosecutor had dropped the charges all those months ago,  because a bunch of “good ol’ boys” were part of the system and knew each other and plainly did not value, in equal measure, the life of a person of color. Giving value to skin color has been a societal marker in America for many years just as giving value to the hierarchy of caste has been a societal marker in India for centuries. And both privileged groups defensively deny and fight against any narrative that exposes their preferential status.

I digress….Using economic deprivation as a ruse, and with the right level of incitement and inducements from “Herr Leader”, a portion of the nation, albeit only a loud and unruly minority, quickly then turn themselves into armed vigilante squads, running amok, intimidating state legislators and health officials alike, as they try and enforce stay at home decrees. Those hapless goons, meanwhile, get all tooled up and loaded, playing Robocop, pretending to marshal the public spaces with lawless abandon. Somehow there seems to be an inverse relationship between the size of Rambo’s weaponry and the shrinking size of his pre-frontal cortex.

And talking of Economics, those conniving super fraudsters in Washington DC, apart from inciting people to “liberate their states”, have been doling out the dosh like it is going out of style. A significant portion of it, has ended up in the pockets of those who are nowhere near in dire need.  In Winter Park, Colorado,  for example,  the Ruth Hospitality Group Inc., the parent company of Ruth’s Chris Steak House that made $42 million in profits last year and spent $41 million buying back stock and paying dividends to their shareholders, has revealed that it received $20 million through two small business loans. Those sociopathic skiving scumbags in DC, made it so that all the fat cat pigs and parasites, could drink out of the same trough as well. Consequently, the first tranche of relief subsidies, meant to keep the middle and poor from falling into real hard times, is all but empty. Apparently even Wall Street hedge fund managers no less, have their hands in the till for all that free money, so long as they can prevaricate and manipulate the eligibility requirements pleading lost business or economic distress or some such.

That this is a class struggle, between a klepto-oligarchic cabal, and the rest of the working population is not lost on anyone but the most uninformed…or as the scribes of the ruling elite would like to coin the term, ”The low information voter”. This, as most of Trump’s own henchman and water carriers in the media and elsewhere, are willfully ignoring the best scientific data, choosing instead, to double down and wallow in a stream of semi-truths, falsehoods, misplaced exuberance and downright arrogance.

In a country that has been fertile with a kind of hubris and bravado, a bravado with delusions about some long-held notions of an indomitable spirit or other, we are aimlessly marching on like praetorian guards into the unknown. Nothing wrong with an indomitable spirit…most countries and nations cherish it, but when fused with a kind of reckless arrogance, based on some juvenile concept of grandeur and superiority….as in the ever so tiresome refrain…”American Exceptionalism”,  it can turn quite deadly.

Lest we forget, and for those who have studied the mythologized history of the US, the ground has been well prepared over several decades. Forward winding to the present, at the Executive and Federal government level, a mountain of stupefying ignorance and fear, through its dangerous purveyors in the White House, Congress, and their minions in the media, are effectively taking a strangle hold on the narrative and usurping the public space to maliciously turn the public conscience. The only people standing in the way of these churlish pieces of pond life, are  our State and local Leaders, who are showing incredible courage in the face of this relentless onslaught.

Without a doubt, from Fox News to nearly all of the rest of the so called main-stream-media, these hucksters of tropes and lies and propaganda, have now become the harbingers of a country’s pathetic descent into mass confusion and wholesale chaos, and with it, the dismantling of any remaining vestiges or sense of the commons. Unlike most other countries, who are, in the main, fighting this vicious pandemic with a relatively unified level of social cohesion, befitting the expected response to a life and death crisis in a modern state, the US stands almost uniquely alone, as a nation in near fratricidal conflict with itself.

Principles of common and collective understanding are being sacrificed at the altar of greed and selfishness, chief among them, the insufferable and inexplicable actions of heavily armed (with rocket launchers even) so-called super patriots, gratuitously pining for “individual liberties” at a time of existential crisis.  I mean…You cannot make this shit up!!  As Tim Wise, the civil rights activist puts it… “They are not just suicidal, but homicidal too”.  Somehow, the universal and widely accepted conclusions, rooted in the science of epidemiology and virology, regarding the dangers of community spread, and its debilitating effects on open transmission etc., is simply just lost on these truculent yet pitiable folk.  It is infuriatingly confounding to say the least.

How did it come to this? That at every turn, viable solutions and quest for serious answers are being thwarted by irascible, small- minded ignoramuses, proud of their unenlightened disposition, even flaunting it as a badge of their true American-ness.

Well. Let me put it this way…. A President stands at a podium and quizzes, without even a hint of irony, that injecting a disinfectant into a human body could seriously be considered as a possible solution to a cure. In an intellectually honest society, he would have been strait jacketed immediately after, summarily removed from office and thereafter quietly transported, without much rancor or delay, to the nearest sanitarium.  But over here it would seem, the resident inmates, have all but managed to take over the asylum, whilst proceeding to rewrite the very definition of what constitutes a cuckoo’s nest. Just you think on that!!!