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Trump, right-wing media, evangelicals share guilt in Covid disaster

Trump, right-wing media, evangelicals share guilt in Covid disaster July 17, 2021

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Caricature of right-wing Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from Gage Skidmore’s Flickr photostream. (DonkeyHotey, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

This compelling tweet below about a right-wing media superstar popped into my Twitter feed this week from a site titled Childhood’s End:

“Does Rupert Murdoch and FOX News plan to pay medical and funeral costs for all those who avoid the vaccine and spend weeks in hospital and/or die because they watched and believed Tucker Carlson’s lies?”

It’s a fair question.

I also believe it’s fair to lump-in Donald Trump and Christians (especially evangelicals and their pundits) with that anti-vax crowd because Murdoch, Fox News, the former, losing president and Christian true believers are all in cahoots tut-tutting the national coronavirus vaccination push as a heavy-handed government sham, at best — if not a covert attempt to inject computer chips into our brains to monitor and control us.

That critical mass of purposeful disinformation falsely indoctrinated (and continues to indoctrinate) millions of people into believing they should not get immunized, despite the reality that getting Covid shots will immunize them from hospitalization and death from this ruthless pathogen. A large plurality of Covid anti-vaxers are conservative Republicans.

In any event, the now-former president is uniquely stained with the pandemic’s original human sin. While serving as the nation’s paramount leader, Trump not only vastly minimized the virus’ lethal threat and broad extent, he chose for long months to utterly disregard — and even publicly ridicule — urgent public-health guidance beseeching the administration to forcefully recommend universal masking, public distancing and preventive shut-downs.

In the meantime, more than 34 million Americans have sickened from Covid and more than 600,000 have died, throwing their extended families into profound (in retrospect, largely unnecessary) grief, causing incalculable immediate suffering for those infected who did not die, and saddling many surviving victims with devastating and lingering “long-haul” Covid symptoms, like cognitive impairment due to brain effects of the disease and chronic fatigue due to its lung devastation.

Then, as Americans continued to sicken and die from the virus and its mutating descendents, Trump and his entire family got their shots in secret — and didn’t publicly acknowledge it later.

Imagine how many millions, even tens of millions, of Trump supporters (and other random naysayers) would have ultimately decided to get vaccinated if their commander in chief had announced his own vaccination, transparently demonstrated it in a public video and pointedly encouraged all Americans to get vaccinated themselves? His minions literally do whatever he says (like storm the Capitol and “fight like hell”), egged-on by genuflecting right-wing media.

Now, we’ll never know how many countless lives might have been saved by a president who cared more about his fellow citizens than his own political survival and power, and a right-wing media dedicated to the truth over profits.

So, while hate- and bigotry-normalizing Tucker Carlson, by far the most popular right-wing pundit in America on his nightly truth-trashing Fox show, is a huge problem for American stability and the survival of democracy, not to mention human dignity, he’s not the problem. That was and remains Trump, who continues to be mute on vaccinations while still frenetically repeating the lie that his defeat for a second term was “stolen” from him by “widespread election fraud.”

It wasn’t. He simply lost a fair election — the “most secure in American history,” according to even his own top election official, not to mention every single state secretary of state who certified the votes and then 61 court decisions tossing out Trump’s fraud inventions, sometimes almost mirthfully.

The former president is the one who purposefully launched this juggernaut of morally lethal awfulness on the American people, corrupted its democratic institutions, and tried mightily — as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Pol Pot had before him — to corrupt unassailable truth by shamelessly and repetitively lying, by insisting facts were always only what he said they were. Alarmingly, “alternative facts” and “fake news” became almost respectable new mainstream terms in the language.

And one of Trump’s most disastrous lies was that Covid-19 is “like the flu” and would “like a miracle, it will just disappear” one day. It wasn’t and won’t, except in the sense that the medieval bubonic plague naturally disappeared one day — after a third of the European populace also “disappeared.”

In our case, the plague has not disappeared yet — and tragically not before 600,000 Americans have already been slaughtered by the horrific virus, largely due to unconscionable presidential negligence and political self-interest, and not before a miraculous (it almost seems to fit here) three-vaccine regime was invented and produced by medical science to fight it with historically spectacular effectiveness.

So where is the accountability (as the second paragraph of this post implies)? To whom do surviving victims (on their own behalf and as proxies to the dead) turn for justice?

The answer: nowhere. For presidents, apparently, lethal negligence is not a crime. Nor is bald-faced lying by the media that causes mass deaths. Nor acquiescence by Christian believers to the sins and lies of their leaders, temporal and spiritual.

You may ask why evangelical Christians s should even be lumped-in with right-wing media (e.g., Rupert Murdoch, his ignoble Fox News Corp.) and Donald Trump as the premier boogiemen of the pandemic, in addition to the virus itself.

Well, somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent of evangelical Christians were (and are) rabid followers of the former president before and after he was formally in charge of the country (see here and here). They embraced and still embrace his every word and gesture, particularly his fulsome rejection of both social distancing and face-masking, and even ultimately his downplaying of vaccinations and his sneaking away to get his own shot without fessing up.

The driving problem for all Christians, including evangelicals, was that social distancing rules precluded large gatherings for Sunday worship. Heavens! That’s unconstitutional, don’t ya know, no matter how many people would perish if such a rationally recommended ban were rescinded.

Therefore, on balance and, sadly, only in a perfect world, all these folks would have to pay a price for their selfish and, it turns out, homicidal, intransigence. Their refusal to behave in reasonable ways that would help save their fellow citizens from needless suffering and death. Their refusal to help protect our nation as a whole.

Of course, willful ignorance and moral cowardice are not crimes in the statutory sense, although the staggering devastation inflicted by these deficits should be.

The bottom line: these manifest criminals, these architects and afficionados of toxic fantasies that have exponentially worsened Covid death rates, are getting away scot-free.

Yet, as far as I know, nobody is seeking redemption. Apparently, nobody feels the need.

(The quote that leads this post comes from Fall in Love, Have Children, Stay Put, Save the Planet, Be Happy, by New York Times best-selling author Frank Schaeffer.)


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