Updated: Aug 6, 2021
My old friend, Danny Goldberg, has a new book out, Bloody Crossroads 2020-- Art, Entertainment And Resistance To Trump. I jotted down a paragraph that Goldberg used to help explain what happened to progressivism after the death of FDR. By 1947, the far right was resurgent. They won the 1946 congressional elections, picking up 55 seats in the House and 12 in the Senate, grassroots Democratic support crumbling. Goldberg wrote about some failed 1947 resistance and quoted journalist Carey McWilliams who described the newly empowered GOP to be 'shot through and through with the self-hatred, the blind mole-like fear of change, the deep-seated social envy and sense of personal inadequacy, the cheap cynicism, and the pseudo-hard-boiled know-nothingism of those who cannot imagine the existence of values really worth defending and who traduce, by their every act and statement, the basic American ideals." Have you heard a better description of Fox-QAnon Trumpism? That was over 70 years ago.
Yesterday, Daily Beast's Justin Rohrlich reported on the cruel death of Dickinson city councilman H. Scott Apley, a member of the Texas Republican Party state executive committee. An anti-mask and anti-vaccine crusader, he and his wife, who have an infant child, were infected with COVID-19 over the weekend and he died early Wednesday morning, age 45, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help with the expenses. A far right-wing nut and devout "Christian," Apley posted an invitation to a mask burning, called vaccine incentive "disgusting" and was a warrior against the very idea of vaccine passports. Maybe his death will allow others to live.
Yesterday, Texas reported the second most new cases of COVID in the country, right after undisputed champion-- for months-- Florida. 16,935 new cases in Florida (with 140 deaths) and 12,334 new cases in Texas (with 70 new deaths. In the last 2 weeks Texas daily cases have risen 188% and Florida's are up 119%. In the same period Florida hospitalizations are up 126% and Texas's hospitalizations are up 93%. Sabine County, Texas' daily cases are up and astounding 16,000% in 2 weeks, while just 29% of adults are fully vaccinated. How could Sabine County let this happen? I can't be sure, but this may help explain it. In 2020 Trump beat Biden in Sabine County 4,784 (87.1%) to 669 (12.2%). And just the heck of it, I decided to check if any other county in Texas was Trumpier. Quite a few were, but the worst is tiny, primitive Roberts County in the Panhandle, where Trump beat Biden 96.2% to 3.1%. Only 22% of Roberts' adults are fully vaccinated but the county is one of the 6 in Texas where prohibition is still the law.
Reporting for the Associated Press this morning, Terry Wallace wrote that "The increasing rates of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Texas are showing steeper jumps than past surges, state health officials said Wednesday as they stressed the need to be fully vaccinated to slow the state’s third wave brought on by the delta variant... [T]he Texas Department of State Health Services spokesman, said the rolling seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases has soared by 92% from last week, while hospitalizations rose by 49% and fatalities grew by 15%." Vaccinations are also going up and if God kills off more people like H. Scott Apley, even more people are likely to request vaccinations.
John Pavlovitz was also warning about the pandemic this morning, but he had a different virus in mind: selfishness. Like many of us, he can't believe that we’re entering the second full year of this unfathomable madness, especially when an effective vaccine is available for every single one of us-- "the embarrassment of riches most nations on this planet are literally begging for-- and nearly half of our people are simply refusing them."
They are saying no, to the help that we have all been waiting two years for. They are saying no to compassion for other people.
It doesn’t matter to them that the variants are replicating with starling speed and velocity.
It doesn’t matter that the ICUs are overflowing again, that cancer patients are having to postpone surgeries due to hospital shortages, that children are increasingly getting sick and dying.
Nothing moves the needle of their hearts enough to perform the simplest act on behalf of millions of people they share this nation with and can help keep safe and alive.
Selfishness is America’s second deadly virus and it may be one we cannot overcome. It will be here far longer than COVID or its variants, because it was here before them.
I wish there was a vaccine that could make these people give a damn about other human beings; that we could inoculate them against whatever toxic cocktail of ignorance, fear, arrogance, political tribalism, and bad religion that has rendered them resistant to the suffering of others.
I suppose this shouldn’t have been a surprise. I imagine their denials of the virus and their refusal to mask and their defiance of safeguards should have tipped me off, but still I did not expect this entrenched and strident refusal to help other people, especially the many who claim to follow a “love your neighbor” Jesus.
Pavlovitz, an evangelical pastor, expected more from good "Christians"-- like H. Scott Apley, perhaps?-- and ended his post on an ominous note: "Until love and mercy and kindness take hold in the hearts of these people, until they are burdened with the common good, that lack of empathy will be a sickness that will destroy us."