In the words of the late writer, Kurt Vonnegut, “and so it goes.” And it’s going. Straight to chaos, as was easily predicted on November 8, 2016, when the country, divided economically, racially, and ideologically, elected the worst person it could have ever considered to find a common way forward through a touch stretch of history: Donald Trump. Last thing I heard from friends in Washington D.C. who had protested was he was rumored to be in the White House bunker. The White House itself was completely dark as protestors outside the White House continued to show their displeasure with reckless and incompetent leadership and the brutal murder of George Floyd on May 25 by the Minneapolis police.
Currently, there are protests and curfews currently ongoing in multiple cities in the U.S. — Minneapolis, of course, but also in Detroit, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Salt Lake City, and many others. International protests have begun as well. The nation that has always sought to hide behind its inherent racial ugliness and origins for two centuries is naked and on display before the world.
All of this citizens’ unrest comes as the U.S. remains the epicenter of a deadly disease (Covid-19) with more than 1.7 million cases, and 101,000 dead in the states. The military is now out in many of these cities to try to quell the dissent. Journalists are being attacked. Protestors are being peppered sprayed and hit with rubber bullets. Friends from various cities who went to the protests report intensity and passion on the streets and also burning cars and some destruction of property, most of it linked to individuals and groups who seem to be trying to start riots and provoke violence.
Things are so out of sorts in the U.S. right now that you got to drill deep to get down to the mess. And when you drill, the first thing you will encounter is how poorly the country has handled and is handling the coronavirus pandemic with the current President in charge. This cannot be ignored. If the Covid-19 pandemic crisis had been handled correctly or differently like it was handled in South Korea with preparation, planning, monetary investment and actual leadership, would all of this be happening?
Then you have to ask, maybe, just maybe, if the current administration and some governors had read and implemented the 2014 Ferguson Report from St Louis County Missouri, with 189 specific recommendations and several calls for action in addressing the problem of policing and criminal justice in black communities, we would not be here watching a coast to coast rebellion against things as they are.
But go deeper: if the response to the pandemic had been much better and more focused, George Floyd is not even flagged for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill in a restaurant. If there was an actual functional government and state operating in Washington D.C., people are not as stressed over the pandemic. Maybe Floyd is never confronted by the Minneapolis Police and he is alive because none of it ever happens.
Professor Eddie Glaude, Jr., tried to express it recently in an opinion article in Time Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:
How does one live in such a time? What happens in your bones, on your insides, when you’re ravaged by disease and hatred? For those African-Americans who have lost loved ones and their jobs, who find themselves in long lines at food banks, who have to deal with the ongoing stress of a virus that can strike at any moment, how do you manage the trauma of loss and the terror of seeing another Black person killed by the police?
The U.S. is a failed state. Anything bizarre and dangerous can happen, any day, almost anywhere, we know this anyway, but in a failed state, mistakes are magnified. It is hard for most to admit. George Packer wrote about the U.S. as a failed state just recently in the Atlantic but I assure you, in conversations online and off, for the past 2–3 years, myself and many of my friends and associates were already saying this.
Countries with crumbling infrastructures, authoritarian leaders, a broken safety net, police everywhere, more and more poor people, more and more people who were once middle class now poor, and more and more instability and chaos in daily life. Lucky that in the U.S. the dollar remains strong is the only respite right now. Otherwise, this moment would be far more destructive.
The so called President’s reaction to the rebellion in Minneapolis to roll out an old much used looters should be shot statement is just one part of the dysfunctional madness. But this is fairly consistent with the President’s life as a hardcore racist. It was back in 1989 when five young Black and Latino men were wrongly convicted of a rape in N.Y. city that the President called for their deaths. The ad he purchased in local N.Y. newspapers is now famous considering the youths were innocent, have been fully exonerated after spending time in prison, and received millions in compensation for what was done to them by the system.
At the Charlottsville, Virginia racial clashes in August 2017, the President defended white supremacists as very fine people. Their actions during those protests resulted in the death of one woman when an individual drove his car into a crowd of protestors and many others begin attacked violently. The President has also encouraged police officers to rough up suspects when they make an arrest. This is no way to run a country. It is political terrorism.
The coronavirus pandemic is almost like a cruel joke considering it was festering louder and louder leading up to the killing of George Floyd. The lie that was created by the administration that the crisis was not so bad and that it was not a danger to anyone is now well known. This was beyond reckless. There are 102,000 dead and over 1.5 million cases. This is a crime against humanity. The loss of life and economic stability is directly attributable to the failure to prepare, the dismantling of the nation’s pandemic response apparatus, and just plain, incompetence. According to at least one study, and report, the delay in closing the country and taking a strong position resulted in thousands of deaths. That is not even up for debate anymore. The statistics, actions, and dates have been recently made available. It is astonishing how bad the Trump administration handled this.
The sum conclusion is the Trump administration, in everything it has implemented, does not even have a concept of a social contract as it relates to anything. They believe in some sick version of rugged individualism. Social Darwinism on meth.
Until this government accepts its sacred and core duties and obligations with its citizens, it cannot be taken serious. Bill Lueders of the Progressive Magazine just wrote about how the administration has functioned since Day 1 on the issue of the pandemic. Lueders rightfully traces the failure back to January 10, 2017, prior to Trump’s inauguration when he failed to heed the warnings of Dr. Anthony Fauci, regarding a potential pandemic.
Back then Fauci was pretty clear in his remarks in Washington D.C. at Georgetown University: “There will be a surprise outbreak and I hope that at the end of my relatively short presentation you will understand why the history over the last 32 years that I’ve been the director of NIAID will tell the next administration that there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that they will be faced with challenges that their predecessors were faced with,” Fauci said in 2017.
After weeks of delay and recklessness, the government did eventually declare a state of emergency. But soon came a quasi-authoritarian movement to force the economy and society open. Armed protestors were encourage to show up at state capitols and states were triggered into opening far too early with no real plan or guidance. More civic chaos.
Perhaps, Tamika Mallory, National Chair of the 2017 National Woman’s March, said it best: “We are in a state of emergency…Black people are dying in a state of emergency.” They are and not just from police violence either; they are disproportionately dying from the coronavirus.
This is the last four months basically, to a degree, with no intent to diminish anyone’s or any group’s suffering either. Violence in black communities motivated by racism and/or state force continues as before. George Floyd’s death makes people forget about Ahmaud Arbery confronted and shot by two white men while jogging and Breonna Taylor shot to death in her apartment by police. ‘What’s Going on,’ Marvin Gaye once asked nearly 50 years ago?
What else is there to say to all of this? Bob —