Hollow Reassurances; or, Who’s Zoomin’ Who?
The congressional district that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, represents is the hottest of the coronavirus hot spots in the entire country.
Her policy positions, she said, have only been affirmed by the damage the coronavirus has inflicted, disproportionately, upon lower-income populations.
In a Fox News Town Hall, the Arrogance-in-Chief said, “At some point we have to open our country. And people are going to be safe. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned about the tremendous contagion. But we have no choice. We can’t stay closed as a country. We’re not going to have a country left.”
In that same conversation, Mr. Trump upped his death toll numbers; we’ve already long surpassed his original estimate — all the while assuring us that we will be safe.
In an attempted walk-back of the mask-less scandal … “Because masks are meant to protect other people and he has been tested regularly, Mr. Pence said, he was in keeping with federal guidelines. ‘I didn’t think it was necessary. But I should have wore the mask at the Mayo Clinic.’”
His deplorable grammar aside, these words offer a further clue that needs both addressing and emphasizing.
The Mssrs. Trump and Pence, and minions et al, will be safe. They’re tested regularly. Minions, too. Oh, not for the minions’ sake, but for their bosses’ sake. So, sure, they’ll not only be safe, but they’ll be reassured that they’re safe over and over again.
Not so for the rest of us.
To borrow from the always-illustrious Aretha Franklin, “Who’s zoomin’ who?” Mr. President? Mr. Vice President? Who is zoomin’ who?
Because it’s not Representative Ocasio-Cortez.
And it’s not Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Nor is it Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Neither is it the “many on the lower rungs of the economic ladder,” as Charles M. .Blow so aptly names.
He goes on, “For some, a reopened economy and recreational landscape will mean the option to run a business, return to work, go to the park or beach, or have a night on the town at a nice restaurant or swanky bar. But for many on the lower rungs of the economic ladder, it will only force them back into compulsory exposure to more people, often in occupations that make it hard to protect oneself and that pay little for the risk.
“Georgia was on the forefront of state reopenings. The first businesses that were allowed to reopen were, for the most part, those that provide low-wage jobs that require significant contact — like tattoo parlors, barbershops and hair salons, and nail shops.
“These are the struggling workers who entertain and aestheticize people of means. These businesses were by no means essential, and they put these workers in danger. There is absolutely no way to practice social distancing while inking someone a tattoo. (Also, what are you so desperate to stamp on your body that you would risk it all during a pandemic?)”
The more I read this morning, the more uncomfortable I got in my own skin.
I’m one of the most blessed of the blest, honestly, and I need to own that, whether I feel or own the guilt that goes with it or not.
I carry two of what’s known in the medical world as co-morbidities, — very Morticia Addams, that, don’t you agree? — for Covid-19. At the same time, I have a husband who is committed to doing everything he can to prevent my exposure to the virus.
I also have a housemate who behaves like she feels the same way. Even without constant testing, I am as safe as I can be in the face of the massive unknowns about this virus.
Not everyone is so blessed.
Our housemate works in a nursing home; she’s been working from home for weeks. She sent me a copy of a blistering email from a rightfully outraged New York nursing home administrator, which says in part, “We are not criminals. We are healthcare workers performing the essential job of caring for COVID-19’s most vulnerable population during the most challenging public health crisis of the last 100 years. The hospitals get food delivered, parades, and hailed as heroes in local and national media. In turn, nursing homes get investigations by the Attorney General’s office. We are truly the forgotten front line.”
Mr. Blow also draws attention to the frontline workers who aren’t administrators, or doctors, or nurses. “But, even among professions that we don’t immediately consider low-wage or minority-dominated, there are areas of high risk and low wages. For many people, the image that comes to mind about the medical field, those on the front lines, are doctors and nurses, people who are highly educated and highly paid. But there are many other people in those hospitals that make them run.
“For instance, a majority of nursing assistants are members of racial minority groups. A third are African-American. Half have completed no formal education beyond high school. And, according to RegisteredNursing.org, the median annual wage for a nursing assistant in a hospital is just $30,000. For those in nursing homes and providing home care, the pay is even lower.”
If you ask Dr. Google to give up the lyrics to Aretha’s “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” she says it right there in the midst of the song, “Who’s foolin’ who?”
The president and the vice president are claiming the privilege of being leaders by offering reassurances, without assuming any of the responsibility for their actions. Their reassurances are hollow, to say the least. Gutted is more honest.
Former President George W. Bush was never a favorite of mine, but he participated in an event called “A Call to Unite.” Part of what he said is “Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat,” Mr. Bush said in the video, which was set against music and photographs of medical workers helping victims of the virus and of ordinary Americans wearing masks. “In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”
Here is the Snarker-in-Chief’s response: “Oh bye the way, I appreciate the message from former President Bush, but where was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.” @foxandfriends He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!”
Mr. Obama’s office wouldn’t comment. Neither will I.
“In mid-March, when some of the first coronavirus cases started showing up in the United States but before its rapid spread, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was mostly sheltered at home like everyone else — in her case, the Parkchester apartment she shares with her boyfriend, Riley Roberts, and a French bulldog named Deco. Getting to spend time in her district has been grounding, she said, despite all the despair. It has allowed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez to perform tactile work in her community, reclaiming her previous role as a grass-roots activist.”
She’s been there. With her people. Crying. Distributing food to those who can’t pay for it. Bearing honest, raw, vulnerable witness to their griefs, their sorrows, their losses, and their fears.
Mr. Trump has been on Twitter. Mr. Pence has been maskless.
In Washington last month, A.O.C. said, “This crisis is not really creating new problems. It’s pouring gasoline on our existing ones.”
“‘When everything started to hit the fan,’ Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said, the more moderate Democrats ‘had no answers. There was no policy.’ Her liberal wing did, she said. ‘It’s just doing progressive things faster,’ she said, mentioning higher wages, hazard pay and lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to zero.”
Investor Ruchir Sharma writing in “The Pandemic Isn’t Changing Everything,” makes the same point even though his arena differs from that of A.O.C’s. His subtitle: “It is just speeding up trends that were already underway.”
“The era after the coronavirus is thus likely to feel much like the era after the crisis of 2008, but with its inward tendencies magnified. … Democracy was in retreat, and autocrats were on the march, before the virus appeared. … The big risk is that leaders with autocratic tendencies will come out of the pandemic with greater leverage to control and close off societies, including democratic societies. … The universalist spirit of globalization was fading before the pandemic, and is harder to find now.”
Mr. Sharma finishes, “The pandemic is in effect telescoping the future. Trends that might have taken five or 10 years to play out have unfolded in only five to 10 weeks, and all point in the same direction. To a world turning further inward.”
Here is where we must stop, and actually do what Mr. Sharma is suggesting, but not on the level of commerce or government, instead, on the level of internal, spiritual well-being, on the level of conscience.
Conscience is a lovely word. Perhaps underused in this day and age of situational ethics. It means, literally, with knowledge. POTUS and VPOTUS know exactly what they’re doing, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with conscience. These two men are without conscience.
But you and I are not.
I think we ought to consider another Aretha Franklin classic, courtesy of the abundant talent of Otis Redding. Another lyric, “You’re runnin’ out of fools,” you Conscienceless Idjits, “And I ain’t lyin’.” But you, most definitely, are.
Now, get out the way. We the people have work to do. Here’s a start.
Find out what it means to me.”
And, then, Beloved, shout it from the rooftops.
Dr. Susan Corso is a metaphysician and medical intuitive with a private counseling practice for more than 35 years. She has written too many books to list here. Her website is www.susancorso.com
© Dr. Susan Corso 2020 All rights reserved.