The Highly Contagious Idea

Photograph Source: Dmitry Djouce – CC BY 2.0

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid waste to the notions of American Exceptionalism (other than perhaps an exceptional level of infection) and the unsustainable practice from the last couple of decades that reality is essentially what you force it to be. It’s the magical thinking that if you manufacture enough consent, eventually that square peg will fit in a round hole.

The trouble is…. the coronavirus has no interest in adhering to anything but pure cause and effect.

Ron Suskind famously reported during the GW Bush era, that one of those staff members said  to him  “that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do’.

This is all true. They are history’s actors, but not in the manner that pompous ass was describing. They will be the cautionary tale of the ages—that of unbounding hubris and the demise of yet another Empire.

“An idea is like a virus, resilient, highly contagious. … Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.” This was a quote from the movie “Inception”, but sometimes pop media gets it right. This idea, this notion, that somehow America does not have to play by any of the rules, that its wanton selfishness can go unchecked—this was the idea virus that allowed a presidency like Obama’s—largely symbolic and unsuccessful for the average American, and then the subsequent travesty of the Trump administration. That you don’t have to deal with the facts and find solutions. You try to create a narrative that fits what you already believe. You set the stage for what you want to have played out. The end result of the idea that aide spoke of, that particular virus/idea has allowed nothing short of a plague—the ultimate in realty based living.

This illness doesn’t believe in American Exceptionalism or that reality is a fungible quotient. Donald Trump and his narcissistic mental illness is an entirely expected effect from this model. That idea that reality isn’t a firm thing and problems aren’t to be solved, but molded and managed to what you want—sadly that lethal idea really spread and took hold.

As recently as October, a Global Health Security Initiative related to pandemic response was released by yet another gatekeeper/expert entity– Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. They ranked the United States as number one among 195 nations in prevention, early detection and reporting, rapid response and mitigation. They said the US is also number one as far as having a sufficient and robust health system, and a compliance with international norms. In short, everything we are not, they said we were. They considered the world at risk for pandemic prep, but gave overwhelmingly glowing reviews as far as the US potential to deal with such an event. This was brazenly cited by Trump this February as proof the United States is up to the task for pandemic related issues. Anyone with an ounce of empathy in the US would know that our health system is grossly unfair, unbelievably punitive, and callous beyond belief. No study needed. There is no way such a system can handle a collective threat such as a pandemic in a remotely functional fashion. It’s as obvious as hell to those with eyes and a heart. These types of studies may be operating from a normalcy bias, and hell, it’s normal to consider the US to be fantastic at everything when you are a part the elite or one of the stewards of that oligarchy. Perhaps the incredible level of faith the study promoted was for the subclass of NBA players and the pandemic response for them. For the rest of US, the claims are, in retrospect, quite laughable (if you are a laugh at a funeral type—not that we can have funerals right now). It’s a system with no guaranteed healthcare, no guaranteed time off, rampant homelessness…… that’s what I’d put on a recipe list for pandemic non-preparedness if I had to make one.

But Johns Hopkins didn’t stop there. They also went full on creepy with Taiwan, at one point labeling it on maps with the preferred Chinese nomenclature: “Tapei and environs”. They also predicted that Taiwan would suffer 2nd only to China with COVID-19. Something hard to believe given their steroid level response to the threat. They are handling this situation in a beyond admirable manner. Watch this link if you want to see how a functioning, reality-based government responds to a pandemic. I was moved by the faith the girl being followed had as far as feeling like her government would care for her, even if her body became ill. I’m only speaking to the country’s response to COVID-19, but that evidence-based response looks to be unimpeachable.

The American experts who seem to believe they have some right to provide us with guidance continue to mislead, whether purposely or not. The issue of droplet precautions versus airborne has massive implications, but the lack of personal protective equipment seems to have pushed again, “the experts” towards calling for droplet precautions. One requires more heavy-duty protection (airborne). The need to call this “droplet” transmission seems to have stemmed from a lack of equipment to deal with “airborne”. This is again, another example of trying to bend reality to what you want the end result to be. And as I keep saying, the virus could care less what you want to morph truth into. And even paper masks do help decrease community transmission, but when we have a lack of masks…..well, they tell the public they don’t help. Anthony Fauci is now saying they might change their advice regarding masks because they “don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good”. But that is exactly what they were pushing as recently as a couple of weeks ago. If they didn’t have enough masks for healthcare, they needed to say this, but for people at home with even hardware-store masks laying around, maybe it would have helped if they put them on in public. But they insist on treating the citizens in an infantile and disposable manner– in the end this gaslighting decreases their credibility as quickly as a parent who tells their kid not to smoke weed, but the kids spot them doing blow in the bathroom.

The lessons learned from this pandemic are going to fill volumes. Those who have been expertly telling us that funds don’t exist for universal healthcare, that the US is somehow exempt from the realities the rest of the world manages– it will become unavoidable to most that all of these statements and boundaries have been nothing but fairy tales and constraints drawn up by a oligarchic elite to hold the system together in their own sociopathic image.

And that idea, the one that will let everyone know that this contrived system has been nothing but a sham—well here’s to hoping that idea will also be “like a virus, resilient, highly contagious. … Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.”

That’s when all things will become possible.

Kathleen Wallace writes out of the US Midwest. Her writing is collected on her Substack page.