IMMEDIATE RELEASE 6 May 2021WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUNDToday’s Events in Historical PerspectiveAmerica’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932Willful stupidity fueling Pearl Harbor in slow motionBy Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift WASHINGTON — We live in an age of willful stupidity. And people are dying because of it. Too many people do not want to be confused by facts. They make up their minds based on what they choose to believe or what they have been fed to believe by the likes of such charlatans as Tucker Carlson and his lying cohorts at Fox News. We are approaching 600,000 dead from Covid, more than twice the American lives lost in World War II, and that tally is considered an undercount. Yet a sizeable portion of the American electorate refuses to take the Pandemic seriously, and their inaction is endangering not only their own lives, but the lives of their families, friends, neighbors, and everyone else they meet. More than 100 million people have been vaccinated against Covid, almost 40 percent of the nation’s adults, a great start but nowhere near the 70 percent experts say is needed for universal protection known as herd immunity. The daily pace of vaccinations has slowed, and to put the Pandemic behind us, the so-called vaccine-hesitant or outright refuseniks must be persuaded to overcome their fears and their political beliefs to take the jab. This is an act of patriotism. It’s how we protect each other and the country we love. President Donald Trump and his cultist toadies sowed doubt in people’s minds about the virus itself and the public health measures needed to prevent the virus from spreading. Early on he said the virus was no worse than the ordinary flu and it would go away once the weather got warmer. Then he mocked those who wore a mask and rarely donned one himself. His refusal to wear a mask made not wearing a mask the flip side of donning a MAGA hat. Both actions confirmed support and fealty to Trump, thereby allowing a pandemic to be exploited for political gain. There has always been a small group of anti-vaccers who don’t trust vaccines no matter what they are for or who made them. And there’s a fringe element that thinks the landing on the moon didn’t really happen, that it was made-up, and no amount of spaceship hardware at the Smithsonian will convince them otherwise. But this is different. The opposition to the Covid vaccine is more widespread and it is intended by many of its adherents to send a political message of solidarity with Trump. It doesn’t make sense since Trump as president spearheaded the development of vaccines that have proven safe and effective, and in January, before he and Melania left the White House, they both got the vaccine, albeit quietly and without cameras. Then again this is the same person who on January 6 said he would march on the Capitol with his supporters, but chose, instead, to watch it unfold on television. Without Trump volunteering to lead a public service campaign to boost the vaccine, which no one thinks will happen, how do we persuade our fellow citizens that this is the right thing to do? How do we change the mind of someone convinced by conservative media that the virus is overblown and that taking the vaccine carries risk, so why take the chance when it’s not really necessary? Anecdotally, you can read accounts of people who didn’t take Covid seriously and then someone close to them got hit hard or died by the virus. They saw the light, but it shouldn’t take a death before a Covid-denier will acknowledge this disease as real. The closest analogy to this willful stupidity is the isolationist mindset of most Americans in the years before the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by Germany’s axis ally, Japan. Hitler had launched World War II in September 1939 when the German Army invaded Poland. By 1941, he had overrun most of Europe and was at the gates of Moscow. It was obvious to anyone – such as President Franklin Roosevelt – willing to consider the facts that the United States would have to get into the war or be devoured by it, but it took the catastrophic reality of Pearl Harbor to convince the fact-deniers. That reality consumed the lives of 2,403 Americans. But that was then. Today, the willfully stupid have yet to be convinced that 600,000 Covid deaths are sufficiently catastrophic to accept the obvious necessity to fight this pandemic with a simple vaccination. This is Pearl Harbor in slow motion. Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency. Twitter: @douglas_cohn © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc. Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND