I started a list of the things I learned in 2020, and everything on my list turned-out to be some variation of, “Wow! A lot of Americans are really idiots!”
We are 10-months into a pandemic that has killed roughly 350,000-Americans, for instance — and mask- and distancing-reminders are still needful. Donald Trump can still fill a stadium and pastors can still fill churches.
A lot of people seem not to know that asymptomatic people can spread Covid-19, that your buddy or girlfriend who feels fine can have a raging case and be spreading the virus as rapidly as your neighborhood nuisance hands-out Jack Chick tracts.
Many Americans are so stupid that they can’t understand that walking a grocery store aisle, wearing a mask and practicing distancing, is qualitatively different than attending a church service, with the result that they feel aggrieved that it’s permissible to go to Wal*Mart to buy (necessary) food but not allright to go to church and load the air with millions of virus-laden aerosol droplets by singing, responsive reading, general howling and bellowing.
Once upon a time, I thought the public interest required enforcing such strictures. Not any more: I now think Friedrich Nietzsche was right. You cannot protect morons from their own stupidity, and you shouldn’t try; it’s a waste of energy and emotionally burdensome. What you can do, and should do, is protect yourself from morons; put them out of your life and let natural selection have them.
Many Americans applaud Donald Trump’s slow-motion coup-attempt and appear to hope he prevails. This is probably the biggest surprise to me — that so many Americans are affirmatively hostile to their country’s founding ideals, that so many Americans know so little of their own country’s history, that they know so little of the history of the Twentieth Century. If they were even modestly conversant with the facts of the rise of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, they’d be frantic with worry every time Donald Trump tweets or opens his mouth.
This is not to equate Trump with Hitler, but he is plainly an authoritarian-in-waiting, an existential threat to the country, and indifferent to American ideals. Certainly, he is charmed by the Proud Boys’ loyalty and fantasizes about unleashing his very own personal Brown Shirts before Joe Biden’s inauguration — and never mind that Trump is flirting with treason.
And note this: Even after January 20th and Trump’s departure, the sickness he has mobilized will remain. Like the Evangelical Right, these are not people who can be educated into goodwill and an appreciation of American ideals; they will have to be defeated and put out of our shared public life.