Let’s do a thought experiment.
Imagine it’s 1983. The HIV epidemic is exploding in San Francisco. Gay men are getting sick and dying in large numbers. As a result, they are beginning to stay away from bathhouses and sex clubs.
With business plummeting, the bathhouse owners are freaking out. Tourism in the city is also down, as petrified tourists stay away. To reverse the economic decline, the city’s bathhouse owners team up with the mayor. The mayor orders all gay men to immediately frequent bathhouses and also demands that they have sex in the bathhouses without condoms – so they don’t give the appearance that there is an actual health problem to worry about.
Medical experts respond forcefully. They display charts and graphs saying that this move is crazy and will facilitate the spread of the disease. But the mayor and bathhouse owners counter: “Some people will simply have to be sacrificed to keep the San Francisco economy humming. We can’t let the cure be worse than the disease.”
“Don’t worry about it, there is the drug, AZT, and there will soon be new medications on the horizon. The cure is just around the corner.”
Facing evermore opposition, the mayor conspiratorially attacks the media as “fake news” that is blowing the HIV epidemic out of proportion to hurt his reelection chances. Friendly media outlets that support his political agenda parrot his message.
Of course, this situation would be utterly unfathomable and insane. But why is this scenario less bat shit crazy than what Donald Trump is proposing? How is floating the idea that Americans celebrate Easter Mass in churches and return to work by Easter any less bizarre? How is it any less a contradiction of the medical and scientific experts?
It’s not. President Trump and his right wing Amen Corner are out of their minds. And they are willing to take you and your family to pit of hell if it helps Trump politically.
Just like HIV – there is no cure for the coronavirus. Forcing Americans to prematurely go back to work while the virus is spreading like wildfire, is no different than directing gay men to have sex without condoms in bathhouses in 1983.
Yes, HIV was certainly more lethal. But, coronavirus is spread much easier and circulates faster. To date more than 700,000 Americans have been killed by HIV related infections. In little more than a year, 2.5 million Americans could die from coronavirus if Donald Trump and his toadies are left to their own devices.
Let’s be clear: Donald Trump and his conspiracy-minded sycophants on the far right fringe – such as Laura Ingraham of Pravda State News, I mean FOX — want you to risk your life – or the life of your mother and father — so he can lift up the stock market and be reelected. Whether you want to or not, Trump – by sending you back to the office before it’s time — is enlisting you in his political campaign. He doesn’t care whether you live or die – if the stock market is up.
Remember, the President is proposing this madness at a time when:
- The Unites States now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases.
- Even the president of China is concerned about us
- The virus is spreading across the world, including our closest allies.
- Thanks to Trump’s incompetence, there aren’t enough hospital masks, beds and patients are now sharing ventilators. Soon they will be rationing care. In other words, the Death Panels that Republicans cynically warned about when they tried to sabotage ObamaCare.
- Our virus curve is rising as sharp as Iran’s.
- People we love and admire are beginning to die
- At the moment when people most need health insurance, millions of people are losing it when they lose their jobs.
In spite of this looming disaster, the White House strategy is happy talk. Who needs ventilators when you can have hope and prayers – which are free. Maybe hope and prayers will work as well as they did to stop gun violence.
It’s interesting, because Donald Trump’s number one supporters are white evangelical Christians. They are all about Religious Liberty that exempts right wing Christians from laws based on conscience. For example, they support pastry chefs not baking cakes for gay weddings. As if this is the biggest problem in the world.
To follow their logic, if conscience matters – Americans should be able to reject Donald Trump’s self-serving edicts and refuse to go into the office if they have non-essential jobs. As a matter of conscience, they should be able to do so without the threat of losing their career. No one should be forced to choose between paying the rent or risk getting sick and spreading the coronavirus. If not baking cakes for gay couples is a matter of conscience, how could a person choosing not to potentially infect and kill their parents, friends and co-workers not also be a matter of conscience?
Sorry Religious Right, you are not the only ones who have a conscience. You opened this Pandora’s Box – now you can reap what you sow.
I’m calling on Congress to expeditiously pass a new law that protects the rights of workers to obey their consciences and work remotely until this pestilence is under control. To do otherwise is a violation of conscience that places the heath and wealth of this nation at serious and unnecessary risk.