Don’t Let it Happen, Colltalers
Norma McCorvey never meant to be part of an American cultural landmark, the 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S. Then she switched sides and became a ‘pro-lifer’ activist. But in her deathbed she confessed that she did it for the money. The Evangelical money.
China thought the tragic COVID-19 diversion was perfect to crush Hong Kong pro-democracy movement. Instead, it turned the world against it and fueled President Trump’s conspiracy claims blaming it for the virus and for all he hasn’t done about it. Also, Hongkongers won’t take it lying down.
Not to sound spoiled, but let’s face it, we’re not doing too well. With close to 5.5 million cases worldwide, the coronavirus pandemic is still expanding albeit at a slower rate in some places, and according to epidemiologists we’re still at least a year from a vaccine if one can be developed for this virus.
You’ve seen the numbers, with the U.S.’ unquestionable ‘leadership’ in cases and fatalities, and now Brazil in second place. Numbers may jump again in the coming weeks as U.S. states start to reopen for business and nations that have ‘flatten the curve’ of contagion set to fire up their economic engines.
The rhetoric for some governments to get it all going again, before any semblance of a coordinated global effort is in place, stands at odds with what most citizens think they should be doing instead. But the emergent authoritarianism currently dominant around the world has no place for dissent. Just now, the U.S. threatens to cut funds of the World Health Organization, the very entity that for 70 years has been dealing with this kind of global crisis.
As for Brazil, which seven years ago had the sixth-largest world economy and now is mired in political turmoil and subjugated by the coronavirus, its 360,000 cases may not include the devastation of Amazon indigenous communities. It’s also out of luck with Jair Bolsonaro who’s seen raging in a vulgarity-laced (in-person, mask optional) cabinet meeting viral video against governors,
health officials, and anybody who’s against reopening Brazil.
Back in the U.S., the president who’s inspired Bolsonaro and once lent his name to a book called The Art of the Deal has failed to sign a single accord with anyone and often blundered the proceedings. He’s now after deals others successfully put together. Warning: civilization hangs on the balance.
Last week, by announcing he’ll withdraw from the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, Trump will have quit or terminally undermined four major, world-impacting treaties: the Paris climate change agreement, the Iran nuclear accord, both of 2015, and the 1988 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. At near 100,000, the U.S. has now more than a third of all casualties of COVID-19, even as Americans represent only 4.25% of the world’s population.
But despite thousands of deaths, the virus putting half of the world’s workforce out of jobs – the U.S. has trashed records set still during the Great Depression – and the likelihood of at least one major climate-caused natural disaster, there’s a group of people who are doing extremely well indeed.
They’re the infamous ‘0.01 percent,’ the less than ten thousand silver-spoon-fed folk who make way more than the remaining 7.999.992 billion people combined. In fact, this crisis, like others before, got them over $400 billion richer in three months. Such gargantuan income disparity prevents even the few well-meaning among the lavishly wealthy from letting go of all this privilege. That’s why change never comes from the top; it’s fought for.
Why would anyone hold on to so much wealth knowing they can’t spend it even if they’d live to be 500, or, anathema, billions starve outside their luxury estates? Longtime civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson offers a quip about it: ‘The gated community does not protect you from the pandemic.’
Before ‘Jane Roe’ McCorvey passed away three years ago, she recorded a ‘deathbed confession’ for a Nick Sweeney-directed documentary about her life. ‘I took their money ($450K, according to tax filings) and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say,’ she said. ‘They’ are the Evangelical groups still behind the drive to outlaw abortion in the U.S. Her confession has delivered a revealing punch to the so-called pro-life groups.
It’s not only exposed how religious and far-right organizations use their monetary muscle to shape legislation and public opinion, but also how they lobby politicians and finance campaigns to intimidate the medical establishment. By ignoring the nefarious social consequences and the unholy price paid by disenfranchised women caused by their hypocritical moralism, they assert to all but the faithful their true intent: it’s always about the money.
By imposing a new ‘security law’ on Hong Kong, Xi Jinping risks reenacting the atrocious massacre of Tiananmen Square on the eve of its June 4th 31st anniversary, and to irk the world. That though is already happening ever since the Trump administration thought it could beat China on trade, a typical fools’ errand given its history. But the generation born after the 1987 British handover is nothing like the doomed Chinese students of the 1980s.
For one, they’ve been practicing civil disobedience and not even recent ‘disappearances,’ the stealth way Beijing uses to get rid of dissidents, has scared them off. What happens next may depend on the world’s resolve to step in, a move that used to be led by the U.S. but that now may be moot if Europe doesn’t act decisively. Either way, it doesn’t look good so brace yourself for rough months ahead at the island at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta.
‘You better start swimmin’/Or you’ll sink like a stone/For the times they are a-changin’,’ sang Bob Dylan in 1964. And changed they were, along with the song’s author who became 79 Sunday. Lyrics like those helped blow the winds of change throughout the 1960s and beyond. Happy Birthday, Bob.
History has shown that we always overcome daunting obstacles when we find commonality with one another, not through our possessions but with our shared sense of empathy, need, solidarity. When George Orwell wrote 1984, his view of the future was of ‘a boot stamped on a human face – forever.’ But what he and others have written is not about discouragement but fair warnings. For just because it can happen, it doesn’t mean that it has to. 72 years ago this June 8, Orwell was near the end of any hope that things would turn out Ok. Thus he warned: ‘Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.’
It’s Memorial Day in the U.S. and the date carries extra poignancy this year as scores of veterans have succumbed either to COVID-19 or to Trump’s irresponsibly promoted hydroxychloroquine drug, which has already been given to at least 1,300 of them, and it’s still being prescribed to elderly vets. We can’t postpone upholding our humanity, our will to serve, our unwavering solidarity. Let’s get it right, including that recipe for Margaritas. Cheers WC