We are living in difficult times. The ongoing pandemic, social unrest, and a polarized election cycle are challenging our nation to its core. Any of these events can reap enough havoc on its own, but we are dealing with them simultaneously. It is a perfect storm.
Times of crisis tell us a lot about character and motives. Things move quickly, so people often speak and act without thinking through the consequences. The many ironies we see today are rooted in hypocrisy and can help us discern the way forward.
Several weeks ago, a political battle was brewing about the COVID recovery. President Trump and most Republicans wanted to reopen the economy as rapidly as feasible. Most Democrats—backed by major media outlets—wanted to remain in shutdown mode until a vaccine was available. A prolonged shutdown would have extended the economic disaster, increased individual reliance on government, increased government control of industries, and stymied a vibrant campaign (i.e., no Trump rallies). Because a vaccine is likely to emerge in late 2020, keeping the country in a bad mood through the election would cement a Biden victory.
But things changed. The Floyd killing spawned social unrest in Minneapolis that quickly spread to other large cities, including New York, the COVID epicenter. The political left no longer regarded the police as essential law enforcers who keep the streets empty and businesses closed. Overnight, they became the problem. Cities looked the other way as many of the protests turned violent. Even for the peaceful protests, social distancing was largely ignored, and many protestors did not wear masks. Some “medical professionals” seemed to carve out a COVID exception for the demonstrations (https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/05/health/health-care-open-letter-protests-coronavirus-trnd/index.html). In other words, protesting to reopen the economy spreads the virus, but protesting police brutality does not. Either the lives of the protestors don’t matter now, or they were used as political pawns when the Democrats demanded that they stay at home, or both. You decide.
This blatant hypocrisy is another reason why many Americans despise networks like CNN and CNBC and do not trust most politicians. Meanwhile, groveling leaders like Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and 23andme’s CEO Anne Wojcicki confess their racism and seek atonement from the demonstrators. Wojcicki insists that she is “holding herself accountable” for abhorrent behavior (https://www.23andme.com/blackout-tuesday). She is not. She seeks to retain her empire by begging forgiveness before activists attack her company for, as she put it, being part of the problem. How can we trust her or the executives at other companies who claim to have understood nothing about racism before May 25 but see the light now? Again, this is not ironic. It’s hypocrisy. Follow the money trail.
Where do we go from here? I like to keep my posts short, so perhaps I’ll return to the topic later. I’ll close with the famous words of President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”