From the May-June 2020 issue of News & Letters
When following COVID-19 in January, I was struck with the brutality toward the Chinese people. It’s one thing to hear about the oppressive government in China and another to see it through citizens breaking through digital censorship. All I heard from U.S. pundits and officials was the need for “draconian measures” to keep it from spreading, like locking people in their homes and tearing away mothers from their children.
The total disregard for the humanity of the Chinese people was not considered. I was appalled at not only the actions of the Chinese government, but also our government and the media’s complete acceptance.
ECHOES OF 1918
I waited for U.S. media to cover this threat to the world. Instead all I saw was repetition of the impeachment hearings. My fear was that this was a threat in the vein of the 1918 Spanish Influenza. This turned out to be close to the truth—it is almost as deadly.
When the media finally reported on the virus, I felt relief that I no longer had to get the message out myself. We could have used that time to acquire protective equipment for healthcare workers and alternative hospital sites. Instead our “president” did his best to minimize the threat and stated it was like the flu, which had already been disputed. Since this began, he has used his press conferences as a way to supplement his campaign rallies which are too dangerous to hold.
VIRUS HAS ALLIES AT THE TOP
The dangers we face from the virus are exacerbated by the U.S. and European governments. The irony is that Prime Minister Boris Johnson became infected with COVID-19 after his recommendation to wait for “herd immunity”—which would take about 18 months, and that’s if we can even acquire immunity to it. That is unknown at this point.
This is a mask for deciding to prioritize the economy over peoples’ lives, and another indicator of the ugliness of the capitalist system.
As the world adjusts to quarantines and food and medical shortages, we see regular people reaching out to each other to help provide groceries, money and understanding—what we are not seeing from our government.
The U.S. places profits over people, bails out huge corporations and provides a one-time sum of $1,200 to individuals who even qualify. This amount is supposed to last for 10 weeks!
This pandemic has highlighted so much of what’s wrong with capitalism. The economic system leaves us all vulnerable to a deadly virus and requires sacrificing healthcare workers, delivery drivers and other people doing essential work. My hope is that this experience wakes more people up to the dangers and inhumanity of living under capitalism.
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