As of this writing 150,000 people in the U.S. are dead because of the novel coronavirus. It’s over half a million worldwide. We still aren’t doing enough testing despite Trump’s assertions that we do more testing than anywhere else in the world and if we just didn’t test so damn much we wouldn’t have so many cases. In other words, the dumbest man in America is still in charge, and we are all paying the price whether it’s stolen time away from loved ones, stolen wages, stolen crucial years of childhood, stolen education, stolen concerts and, of course, stolen lives.
I would not wish COVID-19 on anyone, due in large part to the fact that it’s so contagious and that person, however deserving they may be, could make other people sick. Except for one person: Donald Trump. Does he deserve to suffer like the millions of sick in this country who could have been spared if he had even a shred of capable leadership in him? Sure. But, honestly, I want Trump to get COVID-19 because he is a man who does not, can not, and will not understand something unless it is happening directly to him. I truly believe that his own illness will be the only way Trump will consider this pandemic serious and worthy of national sacrifice and national effort necessary to defeat it.
Instead we have people who are literally taking no precautions because they don’t believe it’s serious or they don’t believe it at all. Trump, the most selfish person on earth, has managed to make small acts to protect each other into a culture war.
When it comes to COVID-19, it doesn’t care what side of the war you’re on — though, truth be told, it favors people of the “masks are tyranny” variety.
And still, with the staggering death toll and the wealth of science and data, which is of course incomplete and changes as we learn more — not because liberals can’t keep their story straight but because THAT’S HOW SCIENCE WORKS — we have people who are making things worse.
Like Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert, who has downplayed the virus, retweeted a Daily Caller story about how the CDC was basically run by the “Deep State,” and that it’s “common sense” not to wear masks in hot weather. He also has an anti-LGBTQ history, most notably trying to ban marriage equality in 2017.
Earlier in July, Rapert participated in a mask-free church service where he addressed the congregation. “Say, ‘I wanna be free,’” he implores in a video posted to Twitter, raising his hand. There is a mumbled response of “I wanna be free” from the crowd. “I’m not a slave of fear, but a child of God.”
He then criticizes California Gov. Gavin Newsom for insisting that people not do things like attend mask-free church services and get sick and/or die.
“How many of you saw in the papers that Gov. Newsom told them they couldn’t even sing in church?” he asks. “I want Gov. Newsom to know, the Bible says that God inhabits the praises of his people.”
Those gathered whoop and holler, spraying airborne droplets into the unmasked faces of those around them. Unfortunately, also contained in “the praises of his people,” is the COVID-19 virus, which is why large church gatherings — or any large gatherings — are a bad idea and an unconscionable risk.
Look, I’m not a Christian, but I’ve lived long enough in this country to understand that you don’t need to be inside of a church to worship God, especially if being inside of said church could help spread a deadly pandemic. The Christian thing to do would be to stay at home and read the Bible, bust out the hymnal for some immediate family choir time. Go take a walk alone on an uncrowded beach and keep your eyes peeled for a mysterious second set of footprints.
Anyway, spoiler alert, Rapert is now in the hospital with COVID-19, though he is reportedly responding to treatment.
Has this experience changed him? Maybe resulted in any compassion for his fellow human? Well, I would say if his taking to social media, presumably from his hospital bed, to advocate gunning down Black Lives Matter protesters across the country is any indication, the answer is no.
On Twitter he’s complaining about all of the nasty messages he’s been receiving from “sadistic evil people” since getting sick. And it is true, there are lot of mean messages. It’s not nice to wish someone dead, but I don’t see any kind of apology from Rapert about how his willful misinformation and lack of regard for the safety of others helped to spread this virus to people, some of whom may die. That’s more sadistic and sick than any Twitter message could ever be.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.