War on COVID Has Become ‘We vs. Them’

War on COVID Has Become ‘We vs. Them’

Public health experts warn of a possible fall surge in COVID cases while the President continues to downplay the pandemic. Trump is quoted:

“I think we’ve done an amazing job … in my opinion we’re rounding the turn,” the President said in an interview with a local Fox station in Detroit in which he continued to minimize the danger. On Monday, he had claimed the virus “affects virtually nobody” while doubling down on previous claims that young people are “virtually immune” — a staggering comment on the eve of such a tragic milestone.

In this article Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is greatly concerned about this division. Fauci is quoted as saying:

What’s happened,” he continued, “is that public health issues and public health recommendations have taken on a ‘we versus them’ approach. Getting back to the point where getting people to wear a mask”—which the two had discussed earlier—”it was like a statement not to wear a mask. People, as you know, it’s public knowledge now, have been threatening me as a public health person, literally threatening me and my family because I’m saying we should be doing public health things like wearing a mask. Physical distancing”—it’s as if “I’m doing something that is harmful to them, they interpreted as the public health measure is hurting them.”

“No,” he said, “the virus is hurting us, not the public health measures.

I do not know how Fauci could put it any plainer.  It continues to amaze and dismay me that people think that simple, reasonable, practical public health measures, especially wearing a mask and avoiding large crowds, could become so controversial that people are interpreting the public health measures as harming them when, in fact, as Fauci puts it: “the virus is hurting us, not the public health measures.”

Fauci made it plain he is not interested in shutting down the country but rather:

“I’m talking about trying to open the economy, but doing it in a measured, careful way. According to the guidelines that we carefully put forth. If we did that, I’m almost certain, we would not have seen those surges of cases that brought us up to 70,000 a day and have now plateaued down at 30 to 4,000 a day. I believe if we do that, we’re going to see things turning around. And I know because if you look at that big map of a beautiful country, there are certain areas of the country that are doing really well. We need to make those be the models.”

As several commentators here at IM have noted; evangelical support of stupid COVID misinformation is similar to the rationales that continue to support Young Earth Creationism.  My purpose in contributing to this blog is to help evangelical Christians to accept science and avoid un-scientific mischaracterizations such as YEC and, now, COVID conspiracy nonsense.

Friday last I began having a runny nose and a dry cough.  Any other time I would have thought I had a cold and just rested and drank plenty of fluids.  But Friday night, as I was fatigued and couldn’t sleep I had an anxiety attack.  Is this it?  Am I going to die?  Totally irrational – but there it was.

I went ahead and got tested Wednesday, September 23rd, and the symptoms have subsided. My point is that family members, who had been influenced by those playing down the pandemic, quickly changed their tune when one of their own was affected.  Those who have been affected by this virus and their families and loved ones are our neighbors.

Please dear friends, listen to Dr. Fauci, ignore unscientific conspiracy mongers, even if they supposedly share your faith.  It shouldn’t be ‘We versus Them’ or liberals vs. conservatives, or non-believers vs. the faith communities.  It should be all of us versus the virus.

65 thoughts on “War on COVID Has Become ‘We vs. Them’

  1. <i<“We’ll take it to the Supreme Court.”
    A LOYAL Supreme Court after replacing Ginsburg.

    How “convenient” her passing then for Team Trump… Hey, I’m only “asking the question.”

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  2. Or better yet an experiment in control so that if the D’s take power they will have in place a process to take control of more and more details of people’s lives.


    …AND TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS!!!!!”

    My point is our science, facts, and logic mean nothing to them.,

    Only their FAITH FAITH FAITH in the Absolute TRVTH of Trump Tweets and Q-ANON.

    “THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS! WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!”

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  3. Whenever I hear some Over-Saved Uber-CHRISTIAN lecturing with wagging finger about how fear of death is so Worldly and Fleshly (as opposed to living in the Spirit) and Homegoing to The LORD — “O ye of Little FAITH, Tsk, Tsk”), I always tell them to check back with us after THEY get hit with the COVID hospitalization or Cancer diagnosis.

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  4. So which level of the Hierarchy do you KNOW you Deserve to be in?

    In the words of the Prophet Melvyn Kaminsky, “IT’S GOOD TO BE THE KING!”
    (Or one of his Court Favorites.)

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  5. I used to be “Mule Chewing Briars”, a reference to a Southern idiom, but it kept getting moderated even when it flat out didn’t post.

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  6. I do not know how Fauci could put it any plainer. It continues to amaze and dismay me that people think that simple, reasonable, practical public health measures, especially wearing a mask and avoiding large crowds, could become so controversial that people are interpreting the public health measures as harming them

    My and my wife’s relatives and co-workers (HQ mid and upper management and staff at a major airline) are all there. And the way they get there is to claim Covid-19 isn’t real. Or is just a bad cold. The rest of the details are fake. Thus mask wearing is just a smoke screen to convince people to vote against Trump or his allies. Or better yet an experiment in control so that if the D’s take power they will have in place a process to take control of more and more details of people’s lives.

    I read things written by these folks and talk to them and they are dead serious. Many are neck deep in QANON. A big talking point is Covid-19 will mostly vanish after the election.

    My point is our science, facts, and logic mean nothing to them. They refuse to believe your facts, assert most of science is a part of the vast global conspiracy (high ranking Ds are leaders of this), and have no idea how to form a logical argument.

    As I said the other day, depression grows by the day.

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  7. The fear of death is a very human fear.
    You are not alone Robert, I have gone through the very same fears from time to time.

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  8. Friday last I began having a runny nose and a dry cough. Any other time I would have thought I had a cold and just rested and drank plenty of fluids. But Friday night, as I was fatigued and couldn’t sleep I had an anxiety attack. Is this it? Am I going to die? Totally irrational – but there it was.

    Not irrational in the least. I have a similar anxiety in the bowels of my thoughts every time I sneeze now, or suppress a dry cough. Or when my wife complains of symptoms that are probably due to allergies. When the mind is confronted with the possibility of death, the real possibility of it, it is impossible to neutralize with rationality, because death transcends the rational, and the irrational.

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  9. “I’m afraid that Jesus himself would not meet with their approval.”

    Well, considering the reception He got on His first appearing, is that really a surprise?

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  10. In the last three weeks there have been seven cases of COVID-19 confirmed at my workplace, where approximately 300 hundred people work. The last confirmed case was of someone who was last at the facility two days ago. As per HIPPA, names and departments of the workers are not shared with other workers by my employer. We fish in a barrel.

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  11. It’s bad. Very bad. And crowds of his followers at campaign rallies — which presumably include many Christians —- are gleeful at his expressions of sadistic and gratuitous cruelty. The cruelty is not just to attack his opponents, but also just for the fun of it. Like crowds gathered at the Roman Colosseum for an afternoon of blood. It’s bad.

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  12. Along with Finn, I’m not convinced about “the end of the Enlightenment”. People believe what they believe less because of logic than we’d like to think (see Jonathan Haidt’s work). Some people take scientism (not Science) to the place of it becoming a matter of a religious type of faith, in the name of “enlightenment.”

    Richard Beck is doing a very good series right now on teleological questions. Science can’t answer them because they arise from a different place than the causal questions that science can answer. We’re not any more “enlightened” about teleological answers than we were in Jesus’ day, or any other time; we still answer them according to our own true faith commitments (not necessarily the religion we claim to follow).

    Dana

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  13. Umm… kinda wondering what being a “promiscuous gay man” has to do with getting COVID-19. Did he trace his infection back to a sexual partner? Otherwise, it is very weird that you would bring that up.

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  14. Christiane, I’m afraid it might be something worse than that. Watching posts on my wife’s facebook page from evangelical Christians (since we spent 30+ years there most of our old friends are evangelicals, as well as most family) worries me greatly. I see posts that call for ‘hanging’ the ‘traitors’ (who are, of course, Democrats), sending them to Guantanamo without trial, and so forth. They don’t believe in free speech, and certainly not freedom of religion (they want to send them dang Muslims back where they came from, and were all in favor of Trump’s travel ban on Muslims). What I have come to realize is that they don’t really believe in democracy, or want democracy. I’m afraid they want a government that will represent their views, and only their views, and enforce their views on everyone else. They talk about a ‘Christian nation’, but as my pastor said a while back, they don’t want a ‘Christian’ (as in Christ-like) nation with a Christ-like leader (who would bomb the hell out of them damn infidels?); they really want an Old Testament nation with a King (and they got one). The fact that they will believe any nonsense if it’s wrapped in a conspiracy theory, and will post things that are obviously false (and easily fact-checked) indicates they have no spirit of discernment. They are obviously listening to ‘another’ spirit. When I see this stuff I am often reminded of 2 Thes. 2:11-12, and become very afraid! I’m afraid that Jesus himself would not meet with their approval.

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  15. My name is a blatant reference to my depressive personality and pessimistic outlook on life. Dunno what’s up with Burro’s name.

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  16. no, no ‘evil’ implied
    nothing so predatory or ill-willed

    it was the similarity in species’ names: ‘burro’ and ‘Eeyore’

    I was once talking to an old friends who were married over fifty years who never got along, but were very jovial about it and I asked ‘Joan, when did all this fighting begin?’ and she said ‘At the wedding’

    Joan said that when Frank saw her heading over to Mary’s altar to put her wedding bouquet on the altar, Frank hollered out ‘Where the hell is she going?’
    well, that started the whole thing,
    but most of it was all in fun and sadly both old friends have passed on to a better place, where I’m sure they are now making even the angels laugh

    so it goes 🙂
    I just love those names ‘Burro’ and ‘Eeyore’

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  17. Mmmm. I find the “Enlightenment science and logic” idea is very overplayed. We are exiting a period of Economic and Cultural hegemony – which was as much built on narratives, which were not particularly true, as every error before it.

    Periods under hegemonic power have the appearance of [good]-order. And as they disassemble there is the appearance of disorder. It is not difficult to find groups in the near-west which have not experienced much of that [good]-order.

    So much of the last 50 – 100 years has been driven by Narratives having nothing to do with Science-and-Logic. From Racism to the Red-Scare [and all the crap justified under Anti-Communism] to the Drug War to the Satanic Panic & Stranger Danger. I cannot look back on the last 100 years and see much cold-rational “Enlightenment”.

    Saying were in a cold-rational Enlightenment era is morally dismissive, IMO. And itself an extremely convenient narrative to those whose power is unraveling.

    When I here the End-of-the-Enlightenment narrative I am reminded of the angry Cuban lady, years ago, who was complaining about Castro and Communism and her family having to flee their plantation. She was angry when I pointed out that the “socialist” revolution may not have had as much traction if her family’s plantation was not operated by Slave Labor. The parts of the story we choose to remember….

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  18. Given the current state of civilization and the ecosystem, perhaps staying on the savannah might not have been the worst option.

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  19. So, a truly egalitarian society would have left us all stuck in the Neolithic? I’ve stated here that patriarchy and hierarchy are what got us off the savanna. It’s nice to be openly vindicated like this.

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  20. We’re actually Lewis’ Northern and Southern demons from The Pilgrim’s Regress, so we’re both each other’s evil twins.

    If you think one of us is more evil than the other, you might want to check your own geography.

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  21. And a large pool of disposable workers, according to Niander Wallace. And usually aided by the plundering of one’s neighbors.

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  22. This was a useful article, but yeah, scary. We are headed off the nautical charts.

    I especially liked his recommendations for men and women in their various callings. Very refreshing.

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  23. maybe we’re all hypocrites, even you. actually, i’d prefer to say we’re all strugglers, with differing levels of commitment and success.

    there’s always been something of the aroma of the deeply-closeted gaybaiter about all your woke rhetoric.

    i hope it never gets to the point where we have to prove ourselves. there’ll be a lot of collateral damage.

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  24. “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
    (Anne Lamott)

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  25. Indiana. Very, very rural with a sizable Amish population. The first COVID cases and first death were Amish, which was another reason for people to discount them. Amish weren’t following distancing guidelines, continued to hold weddings, etc.so non-Amish didn’t believe it could happen to them.
    Now, as the COVID numbers are in the hundreds, people still often assume thy\at those effected are Amish, and are very surprised when I say that, no, they assuredly are not. I know a number of people who have had COVID, one woman in her 80s.
    People here, for the most part, think it is a big city problem, think it’s overblown by the media, and think it won’t affect them. So they continue to get together to play cards and make pies, sniff their essential oils, take their herbal supplements, visit each other without masks, claim the numbers are not accurate, and vote Republican.

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  26. there is something almost ‘gothic’ in the horror of good people who are evangelicals embracing trumpism, looking for something they can’t find in Christ.

    I keep thinking of that Chesterton quip about the appeal of Black Magick and diabolism:
    The Dark Powers have a reputation for Getting Things Done.

    And Trump’s appeal to his base is Trump Hates the Same Enemies They Do. (And will destroy them for you. PAYBACK TIME!)
    Isn’t there some quote about “When God Hates the same people as you…”?

    Southern Gothic . . . .

    Steven King mentioned it in his first non-fiction book Danse Macabre (a personal study of the horror genre). I don’t have the book handy, but some of his examples of Southern Gothic were funny in a twisted way.

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  27. Or, another way to look at it is that they can deal with overt racism easier than hypocrisy. And knowing that the overt racists are in no way confronted or restrained by the supposedly non-racist whites, so how non-racist are they really?

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  28. Evangelical Young Earthers are part of the background of the rejection of science,. In fairness, though, they have lots of company. The tobacco companies worked hard for many years to confuse people about what is and is not good science. Then we get to climate change, with various industries lining up to obfuscate the discussion in support of short-term gain. There is ample blame to share. This is, by the way, how civilizations fall.

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  29. ‘ President Coolidge come down in a railroad train
    With a little fat man with a notepad in his hand
    President say, “Little fat man, isn’t it a shame
    What the river has done to this poor cracker’s land?” ‘

    There is nothing physical that differentiates me from Johnny Peckerwood. If I was a black man in this country I’d be angry all the time. If an angry black man peppers me with birdshot mistaking me for Johnny Peckerwood, I can’t say I’d be pleased about it, but I would understand it. My outrage at ‘racism’ wouldn’t deflect it.

    My experience has been that black folk seem to prefer Johnny Peckerwood to me anyway. It’s like dealing with overtly racist whites is something that reduces what you guys call ‘nuance’ while racially ambiguous white people and ‘allies’ increase it.

    Nobody likes ‘nuance’. It slows response times in critical situations.

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  30. Headless, I don’t know about you, but I have begun to think that there is something almost ‘gothic’ in the horror of good people who are evangelicals embracing trumpism, looking for something they can’t find in Christ. I can’t see all of them as ‘bad people’, no; just am fearful for many of them and what may come of this in time.

    Imagine Biden wins, he confronts the virus, and our nation regains its sanity from all the current chaos of the trumpists . . . . what will happen to the evangelicals? Can they find their way back from the edge? I keep thinking about the ‘good’ ones, the ones who ‘trusted’ that somehow Trump might bring them what it was that they were looking for in the way of ‘power’ or ‘influence’ in our country; what will happen to them in that trump cult should our nation escape from this nightmare?

    and I think how very sad this whole picture is,
    like a story out of some Southern gothic novel where evil comes alive too vividly and overtakes those who are vulnerable in ways that they cannot understand and we cannot bear to watch unfold..

    Southern Gothic . . . . that realm of ‘the story’ where, as the author Flannery O’Connor has written that too many ‘good Christian people’ who are caught up in trumpism have ‘got hold of the wrong horror’.

    God have mercy.

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  31. those deaths don’t really count because they were obese, diabetic, ill with something else, whatever. Pick one.

    During my first prostate cancer scare around eight years ago, I got The Treatment from the Veganism-and-Vitamins crowd. “YOU EAT MEAT, DON’T YOU? YOU GAVE YOURSELF CANCER BECAUSE YOU ATE MEAT!” It was so obvious they were waving their Veganism as a Magick Shield against the cancer cooties.

    JMJ/Christian Monist reported similar Magick Shielding when a fireman he knew died of cancer. There it was “HE SMOKED, DIDN’T HE?” Waving their anti-smoking as the Magick Shield against his cancer cooties.

    This is the same thing. Waving their Perfect Health/3% body fat as a Magick Shield against COVID.

    That said, three deaths in a county of 15k is a pretty low death rate. (Granted, its not low if you’re one of the three.) Which county and state is this? If you don’t want to give your location, just describe the part of the country it’s in, urban or rural, and any conditions that might have a bearing.

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  32. And the Christians chorus “AAAAAAA-MENNNNN! HE IS LOOORD!!!!!”

    CHRISTIANS ARE THE MOST FANATICAL OF TRUMP FANATICS, THE CORE OF HIS BASE.

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  33. Have you considered the possibility that all (or at least many, without knowing exactly what things you mean) of those things *are* indeed worthy of being outraged over? We’ve (by we, white middle/upper class Christians and cultural Christians) postponed reckoning with far too many issues for far too long. Perhaps their all coming to a head is the price we must pay for our past indifference. Sucks to be us, but somebody was gonna have to pay the piper. And the longer the bill is past due, the greater the interest accrues…

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  34. There is vanishingly little solid advice in Ms. Khazan’s article. I wouldn’t recommend it at all to a policy maker, for example. Empathy has always been a finite resource. Right now there are dozens of pieces in my Reddit feed that demand I be outraged about one thing or another, and call me an evil person if I refuse to be outraged by them.

    I am not an evil person. I am also not a policy maker. I have conversational access to exactly one policy maker, who asked me my opinion on a mandatory mask ordinance in outdoor areas for a municipality. I told her that in general I was in favor of mask-wearing, but that police handing out tickets for non-compliance would probably not be a road she wanted to take the city down if there were other ways of accomplishing the goal.

    Make of that what you will.

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  35. When people stop doing things worthy of their being guilted over?

    Seriously, the point is that COVID wouldn’t have been so deadly if we had done things differently beforehand. And THAT is something worth guilting people over. Because they sure won’t change otherwise.

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  36. My brother is a missionary in Ukraine. We think he has it though he tested negative. He’s had, since they opened thy e seminary and started teaching again, fever and dry cough, fatigue, a rash on his chest and pain in some joints. It’s been going on for two plus weeks. Even when you get through the initial blast the thing can have other long term affects, some dangerous and even life threatening. The politicization of this along with everything else in the political arena is really disheartening. I’m disgusted by the whole mess. Truly disgusted.

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  37. I hear all the time in my neck of the woods, a county with about 35,000 population and, so far, 3 COVID deaths, that those deaths don’t really count because they were obese, diabetic, ill with something else, whatever. Pick one. The death toll from COVID is now 67 times the death toll of 9/11.Try to imagine people saying that many of those 9/11 victims were ill anyway or shouldn’t have been on those planes and would have died sooner or later, so no biggie.
    Try to imagine but you can’t.
    And yet, here we are with 200,000 dead excused as from poor life choices or bad genetics. And excused in great numbers by pro-life Christians.

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  38. I was singularly unimpressed by Ms. Khazan’s article. I could have written it myself just by doing some moral introspection.

    ‘Lack of empathy’ didn’t kill 200,000 people. The coronavirus did. The Reagan administration didn’t cause AIDS, and the French didn’t kill 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda.

    When are you going to stop your guilt-pandering? You sound like a fundamentalist preacher outside a barn dance.

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  39. Link to a Jacobin (“leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture”) article from last week with some middle-ground thinking: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/09/covid-19-pandemic-economy-us-response-inequality

    From the piece: “I am aligned with the Left when I defend the COVID-19 strategy in my native Sweden. But here in the United States, when I defend very similar strategies implemented by the Republican governors of South Dakota and Florida, I am perceived as being aligned with the Right. It is a little weird. Among my infectious disease colleagues that favor an age-targeted strategy rather than lockdowns, most are left-wing progressives, while most of my Twitter followers are on the Right.”

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  40. We are now six months into the pandemic and I still know only two people related to my family group who have tested positive for the COVID virus. One is a promiscuous gay man, and the other is a quiet introverted guy whose only vector is that he is the gay guy’s best friend. I attend two churches; one which is very strict about public health measures and has a lot of preventive measures in place to avoid transmission. the other church started well, but has gotten far more cavalier recently. The infection rate is the same in both of them – nil, nada, nothing

    Now, it seems that everybody has gotten tired of epidemic restrictions. When I go out to where the young and healthy congregate, there are fewer masks every week. It used to be that when I wore a mask out in the red suburbs, I got resentful stares and a sense of being out of place. Now, masks seem to be less of an us-vs-them thing but there are fewer and fewer masks. My black neighbors are more punctilious about their masks than my white co-workers, and from what I’ve heard, they’re probably right to be.

    Once again, its hard to maintain any sense of urgency as this thing grinds on. Will we see a UK/Spain-like resurgence just in time for the election? God forbid. But hell, I haven’t seen people dying in hospital waiting rooms on the six o’clock news like I thought back in February would be happening by now.

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  41. Wonderful article! I only had one disagreement with it, the ventilator question is much more complicated from a medical point of view than young/old. The rest of the article was very insightful!

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  42. For the Cult of the Donald, “God” is Trump and “Satan” is anyone that doesn’t support Trump.

    Trump is a demigod to his followers while he is a demagogue to our nation.

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  43. We are seeing the end of The Enlightenment where science and logic replaced medieval superstitions. We are reverting to a time where both science and logic are rejected for conspiracy theories and disinformation.

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  44. I read the most tragic article in our local news. A family had lost a loved one, and almost every person wanted to talk about co-morbidity and whether he really died from COVID and politics and Fauci and masks mandate and church losigns…. You could almost see the tears in the widow’s eyes as she begged people to just let her grieve.

    What has happened to us, we can’t even grieve. Grieving is at the core of what makes us human.

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  45. I’m afraid COVID-19 has been turned into background noise due to political crisis. It’s only going to get worse. Yesterday in response to a question from a reporter Trump refused to say that, if he lost the election, there would be a peaceful transfer of power. Also yesterday there are new reports that the White House is looking at a way to circumvent election results if Biden wins, a scheme involving manipulating loyal electors in Republican states. As the country gets closer and closer, almost minute by minute, to a national crisis unlike any since the Civil War, COVID-19 and its victims will lose the attention of the American people.

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