The Metric is Here
I hear (in my mind, that is) the backlash coming in fast. From the White House but right now I would ask you to go online and take a look at a 6 or so minute video. The video, with young people from different countries, looks at the American response to the coronavirus when contrasted with that of other nations. And by “other nations” I am not talking about Brazil where Bolzanaro has said that it was a hoax and then he got it but it was no big deal — to him. You can find the video at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/27/opinion/covid-19-global-response.html?campaign_id=39&emc=edit_ty_20200727&instance_id=20646
Meanwhile my husband sounded off as he was passing by. “That’s what happens when you have the myth of exceptionalism. What is so exceptional about this country — the guns or the poverty or the racism?” The frustration in his voice was not a felt need to simply point fingers, but a worry about how the compulsion to feel we are exceptional can lead to a lapse in caring and in caring to look at what is in front f us. Today I felt I needed to share because to look at other people looking at our country, only validates my own worries and yes, it is also alarming.
I expect this story to be a major news event, even though it is a small segment amidst other urgent stories. Even so, at the same time, it is a button presser as a little story that ridicules, not just America’s response to coronavirus, but even more so President Trump’s responses. It does not allow anyone — except those who would have doctored the footage though most of us will have remembered it all too well in any case — to say it isn’t so, or that it wasn’t so. It was and it is still going on, with the difference that Trump is now coming out more on the side of using masks. I am assuming he will try to say he always had that position and try to smear the NYTimes again although, well that is nothing new either.
The “metric”, in the title by the way, would in essence be the measure of American success, America’s sanity in dealing with Covid. And Trump points to his head in response to the question of what in fact would be that metric, as he says “it” is “right here”. It — the metric that is — is and was, in other words in the brain of our President. Oops, but that might not be quite the case either. In fact, it is more likely that unconsciously at least, Trump meant that the metric would be his take, his perspective, his decision-making about all of it. He will be the decider, the one and only.
I don’t particularly like to be made fun of either. But when these young people seem smart about statistics regarding many countries the world over, it might become something some of us might take seriously. People in droves on Florida beaches is just one example of the photos they show in this short but powerful essay.
And then I wonder out loud. How much is a good part of the American public willing to believe that America is best and first in all things, no matter what? How much do a good number of Americans need to believe in Trump at any cost? And by extension how many Americans would feel crushed if they were to question their allegiance to him. It is beyond scary for someone so self-referential to be talking about the metric for a country’s success in dealing with Covid coming from his own mind. Just saying.
So, I felt I had to talk to you about this, before I had to listen to a Trump response to being made fun of so raucously. By the way, it feels important to add that the style of the poking fun is not malicious; it is serious, and in fact one of the responders was crying, no make that two. These young people commenting, were upset at what is going on here, about how many people have died here, about how many people lost their jobs to the tune of no unemployment benefits.
Watch this and be sad. Or watch this and ponder. And please reflect on whether the responses of the people in the video make any sense at all.