Curtain Raiser

No Karma. Simply Reality, Colltalers

So Trump caught Covid-19, a ‘fake’ virus that’s nevertheless killed over 200 thousand Americans and is nearly lodging 40 million cases worldwide. To say that chickens have come to roost doesn’t do justice to the irony of this cataclysmic event. Now the presidential election is officially up for grabs.
Suddenly all world headlines are locked below yet another stunt by the U.S. President. To the media, the galloping resurgence of coronavirus cases, the Amazon on fire, mass protests in Israel and Mexico, an armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, all pale in comparison. Except that it doesn’t.
Thousands took the Israeli streets over the weekend calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. One of Trump’s staunchest supporters, he’s been indicted for bribery, corruption, and breach of trust, but that may not be the rallies’ main reason. Some say there’s anger at surveillance tools used during the virus lockdown, which is being reinstated, that’s made citizens face tough measures long associated with the suppression of Palestinians.
Mexico’s President López Obrador is facing criticism from both civil and women’s rights organizations, for his failure to curb the Covid’s rise, now at almost 800,000, and apathy towards rampant femicides in the country, and by the Chihuahua, the state bordering New Mexico. The president accuses opposition governor Javier Corral of denying by political reasons, to send water to the U.S., as dictated by terms of a little known 1944 bilateral treaty.
And Facebook, which is not a country but has a budget larger than many, has again blocked environmental and social justice groups, this time for an online event against the Coastal GasLink pipeline, set to cross land belonging to the Wetʼsuwetʼen, a First Nations people. Greenpeace USA, Climate Hawks Vote, and Rainforest Action Network were zoomed out, just when the ‘lungs of the world’ burn to the ground. Ads for Trump though remain.
There was consternation last year when fires of the Amazon Rainforest broke records; nothing close to it has happened in 2020, when the devastation is twice as bad, according to NASA’s Global Fire Emissions Database. The world seems to have settled into blaming President Bolsonaro’s ineptitude, which is not wrong but only part of the problem. Brazilians are still not reacting strongly, with the proper indignation to this tragedy in their backyard.
It’s been said that the wave of totalitarianism infecting the world for the past four years has followed similar patterns in the U.S., the U.K., parts of Europe, and Latin America, mainly Brazil. Some would even call it an agenda, a combo of indignant but phony, conspiracy-infused claims against humanism, history, and even the role of science and rationality in society. It got a boost with the collapse of neoliberalism and took off like bushfire.
Now, in times like these it’s very easy, and dangerous, to slip into conspiracies, or unwittingly create one that goes viral and ultimately further damages this world. So we won’t dwell on a debunked theory linking the stabbing of Bolsonaro one month before his election in 2018, to claims that his attacker knew his sons and even shared a fire-range membership with them. But it did spare him from exposing his poor verbal acuity in candidate debates.
For all accounts, however, Trump’s diagnosis breaks up a Republican streak that started the moment Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg departed this world and put the party in lock-step to replace her with right-wing Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Supreme. Right to when the president himself opened his mouth at the debate with Joe Biden and mainly didn’t shut it up. It was a karmic curveball for someone who’s belittled and discredited the pandemic.
Worse, it’s placed a terrifying prospect for his supporters in Congress and at large: if VP Mike Pense, who’s been in almost every rally and presser alongside the president, also falls sick, Madam Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will take charge of the country in these crucial weeks before the election. However limited, she’ll have presidential powers to say, postpone hearings for the Supreme, or opening up polling stations and Post Offices.
Noted journalist and author Naomi Klein fears that Trump will exploit his infection to further destabilize the election, but the quest is now one belonging to ‘the Richard Nixon’s smoke-and-mirrors’ realm: what did the president know about his condition and especially, when. As it turns out, a quick look at the news of the past few weeks show an array of potentially infected supporters and reporters who may or may not know they were being exposed.
The Superspreader-in-Chief, of course, will deny knowing anything and this time he wouldn’t be too far from the truth. But a likely outbreak within the White House may have originated with him, and we simply don’t know how the massive spread will affect each one of those involved. Starting with the VIP. It’s more than an embarrassment for him and his party, and a giant task for operatives to spin the reality and articulate a way out of it. Fast.
Lastly, the moral angle, which poises some difficult views on the president’s predicament from those truly concerned about the pandemic. The man who showed a callous reaction to those suffering and dying from a virus he was incapable or unwilling to protect them from, will now receive more than his share of solidarity and well wishes. So be it, our compass shouldn’t flinch as a result. But we still know what he did throughout the summer.
We’ll know whether his illness will help him, out of sympathy or on the sheer disruption of the election process, something he’s been sowing non-stop since the inauguration. But besides guaranteeing, as usual, the command of the media narrative, time is running out for him and the alternative too. The Poor People’s Campaign has been working hard to keep our compass straight and eye on the ball, and another ‘Moral Monday’ like today will help it.
We need to connect the dots between what’s happening in the world and the morally bankrupted attitudes of egotistical leaders like Trump, Bolsonaro, and others. Climate change-driven wildfires, rise and rise of coronavirus cases, repression and racial wars, the undermining of institutions, and even the powers of the republic, these are harbingers of the worst to come. To lose this election means literally losing this planet. We won’t allow it. WC

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