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And this is not the end

  • Published at 09:42 pm May 16th, 2020
What is the world’s priority now? Photo: BIGSTOCK

When time is money, real dangers are ignored

It is a depressing world we live in, compounded by even more upheavals than we can imagine. After all the rigorous searching to acquaint ourselves with the realities, we only know that scientists are still on a scavenger hunt for clues. 

So, for now, your scientific take on this crisis is like a veritable test that solely reflects your own fears and hopes -- about what you want to be true. The powers-that-be, guiding our post-mortem debate, have framed it around whether or not we need universal testing, so we can all get back to work. What is the principal motivating force guiding our lives? 

The new god of choice is the economy, brothers. Political, social, or religious leadership is geared absolutely in this direction. Of course, this resumption of our economy will be crafted so as to maintain the same oppressive wealth pyramid that made us so vulnerable to the coronavirus in the first place. 

But with the desired testing protocols in place, the lower strata can worry their status as an essential worker preordains a premature demise -- like our coal miners in their shafts. Take a look at a map of where our own country’s wealth inequality is most pronounced, and then overlay the data from the Covid-19 death toll. 

You will see the pandemic’s path, wherever you live. Our leaders had been ignoring this for decades, as they tilted the economy to favour just the 1%. Crucial to the corporate continuity is the deliberate undercount of the dead bodies and the promotion of an image of managerial competence of a government to deliver us from a virus they had ignored, and then allowed to spread by fumbling their responses. 

The scenario has reverberated in the US, China, Italy and in the countries of our sub- continent. Our great push to reopen without universal testing and contract tracing is obviously coming from our current century Malthusians, who -- as their team captain in the White House had said -- want to just let the virus “rip” through society. 

This crew doesn’t want to waste any more time, because for them time is money. They argue that waiting to re-open the economy until there is universal testing and contract tracing will kill more people than that dreaded virus alone. 

In America, leaders like to believe from their safety of private-box seat locations, that a mass die-off of the most vulnerable -- most likely (blue- state) urban-dwelling Democrats or undocumented immigrants, they hope -- would be an interim solution and a solid down payment on herd immunity and the establishment of this ongoing century’s post- coronavirus master race. 

On the other end, just think of how long leaders of underdeveloped, poor and struggling countries, where the vast majority live, could put off really taxing the rich if the weakest in society were no longer of anyone’s earthly concern. And, as for the undocumented, they shouldn’t have been here in the first place. 

Remember, in the US, these are the same folks that had put immigrant children in cages. They have made it very clear that they do not see undocumented immigrants as human beings and that in their world informed by scarcity, there’s barely enough to go around for American citizens. 

And that was before Trump’s Great Depression. And would the faithful want to step up his game to help insulate Trump’s base in the red states who are now feeling the Covid-19 heat in meatpacking plants that employed so many immigrants? Why for him, it would be the restoration of the white America he and his boss always promised. 

The logic is: Get rid of the immigrants first; then, thanks to the Depression 2.0, you will have red blooded Americans lining up for those same jobs they once thought beneath them. This white supremacist worldview was bluntly called out by David Frum, a former speech writer for George W Bush, when he appeared on MSNBC with Ari Melber on April 24. 

Frum had observed that ProPublica had published a list of seven basic action items, like contact tracing, that should be in place before re-opening the economy. Yet, Frum rightly observed none of these public health prerequisites were in place even as Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, moved to reopen the Peach Tree state’s economy. 

This had been explained: The entire nation is moving toward the policy of “let’s take the punch” and then reopen, accepting ‘that there may be hundreds of thousands, or some double hundreds of thousands, of Americans killed. The end result would likely end in confusion of the mostly poor and minorities, mostly not going to be Trump voters. 

Someone at the top desperately wants us, the herd, to take that punch and push through and try to get to herd immunity as fast as possible. Of course, what this grand plan has ignored is the fact that it assumes: “Once a person has become infected with the virus, experiences a bout with it, and survives, they will be immune from contracting the virus again.” 

Yet, there have been cases of an individual surviving coronavirus, only to get re-infected. And if there is not global scientific consensus on if you can get re-infected, there certainly is no empirical understanding of how long such an as-of-yet-unconfirmed immunity might last. 

In the fog of the viral war, commentators have lost sight of how a decades-long bi-partisan embrace of militarism against the “axis of evil” set the stage for the scarcity of basic health care equipment and the broad deterioration of public health that makes the United States such a ripe host for the coronavirus. 

This is not the end!

Nazarul Islam is an educator based in Chicago.

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