Keep Active, Fight Hard and Wear a Damn Mask

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Last week Covid killed more Americans than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have directly killed since 2001. 15,682 Americans died from Covid over the seven days from November 28-December 4. This is a larger number than the 14,000+ killed in action as both service-members and private contractors since 2001.

The number of Iraq and Afghan veterans killed by suicide since 2001 is more than 9,000, again less than last week’s total from Covid.

We’ve had multiple days now that Covid killed more people than were killed on 9/11. Due to 9/11 we have voluntarily given up so many civil liberties: our phones and computers are constantly monitored and catalogued by our government, we torture and kill without due process or mercy, including American citizens, and everyday experiences, like going to the airport, are macabre and debasing charades of fear-mongering security theater. Yet, as thousands die each day from Covid in the US, we can’t get large segments of the American population to wear a mask or watch their church service from home via Zoom.

There is a maddening dissonance between our actions toward Covid and what we have allowed our country to do and how we have allowed ourselves to be violated in the name of protecting ourselves from terrorism; evidently the idea of brown Muslims is more terrifying than a pandemic super-bug to many Americans. However, there are some rough and consistent equivalencies in our national reactions to Covid and 9/11. Primarily this is apparent in the astronomical amounts of money spent by the US Congress on both of these national actions. The running cost for the wars and the amount spent on Covid have both been almost nothing other than subsidies to big business and banks. More than $6 trillion for the wars and more than $4 trillion for Covid and what have any of us seen of that? A $1,200 check, LAST APRIL, that went right to the banks for our houses, cars and credit cards…

It does not have to be this way. We can protect our population and provide the necessary economic support for people to keep their homes, businesses and jobs. It’s simply a question of political will and an understanding that corporate media, and both political parties, benefit from a simplistic, binary, and emotion-driven proposed solution set.

We need to keep pushing for real systemic change in our economy and our political leadership. Keep active, fight hard, and wear a mask for fuck’s sake.

Matthew Hoh is a member of the advisory boards of Expose Facts, Veterans For Peace and World Beyond War. In 2009 he resigned his position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama Administration. He previously had been in Iraq with a State Department team and with the U.S. Marines. He is a Senior Fellow with the Center for International Policy.