Our country is under attack from a deadly disease, but it’s not the one you might think.
A virus of stupidity has swept the nation. It is virulent. It is lethal. And it has poisoned our family, friends and neighbors with disastrous consequences.
Most worrisome, this malignant tumor of idiocy has infected multiple layers of government, leading all the way to the White House. Supercharged by social media, foreign disinformation campaigns and dishonest right-wing news outlets that use unethical journalistic standards to bend the truth, our society’s most gullible and least educated are now responsible for setting political agendas that are costing lives.
We see it in Republican-run Florida, Texas, Georgia and Arizona, where medical experts’ opinions and guidance have been ignored. Now, even with those states in the throes of a spiraling COVID-19 crisis, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis still refuses to order his citizens to wear masks, and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Tuesday night his state will stop listening to infectious-diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
At the grassroots level, we are witnessing the culmination of a Dark Ages-style revolt against the ideals of the Enlightenment. Politicians on the right have been railing for years against higher education, to the point that 59 percent of Republicans and right-leaning independents now have a negative view of colleges and universities, according to a 2019 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.
Meanwhile, ridiculous conspiracy theories have proliferated so rampantly that politicians espousing these bizarre beliefs are winning primaries. In past elections, these individuals would have been fringe candidates and garnered a fraction of the vote. One such candidate, Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, is a near-certain lock to win a House seat.
Assisted by Alex Jones’ InfoWars and social-media sites Facebook and Twitter, fabricated news and unsubstantiated rumors have spread like wildfire among those unable and unwilling to understand what constitutes reputable sources. These propaganda initiatives have achieved stunning success.
All mass shootings are either false flags or hoaxes. Vaccines cause autism. The Earth is flat. An anonymous individual named Q is fighting the deep state alongside Donald Trump to root out a pedophilia ring run by Democrats out of a local Washington, D.C., pizza joint, and it’s all funded by billionaire George Soros.
Millions of Americans have been brainwashed into believing nonsense. It would all be hilarious, and we could all share a hearty laugh at these wing-nuts’ expense, except their irresponsible behavior is causing people to die.
From a medical standpoint, we first saw the repercussions of this play out on a small scale. Last year, when measles outbreaks started happening across the country because many parents are too scared to vaccinate their children, anti-vaxxers turned out in force to fight efforts to compel inoculations. Many Republicans relented, calling it a personal-liberty issue.
Today, we are seeing it on a massive scale. As the death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic approaches 130,000, Donald Trump and his acolytes have given in to extremist elements that pushed for a rapid reopening of society, snubbing all medical expertise. Trump and his supporters won’t wear masks, they won’t physically distance, and they stage rallies in hot zones against the advice of desperate local health officials, causing super-spreader events that are decimating communities.
Surrounded by the most respected medical minds in the nation, Trump famously asked if drinking bleach could cure coronavirus. Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the virus task force, suggested this week that we pray. Not exactly helpful solutions.
Today, we can identify a Trump voter two ways. They’re either wearing a red hat, or they’re not wearing a facial covering. Science tells us masks are our best defense to slow the spread of the virus, so of course the champions of non-scientific thought are against them. Once again, Republicans say it’s a personal-liberty issue.
These individuals take pride in their ignorance. They shamelessly wear it as a badge of honor. You can’t argue with them. You can’t reason with them. You can’t educate them. You can’t persuade them. They are dead-set in their backward beliefs.
And we are all suffering because of it.