Time to Leave Fantasyland
Will COVID Make This the Deadliest Thanksgiving in American History?
Thanksgiving has never been entirely joyous. Think of the last few years arguing across the dinner table. A lot may have been about politics, but things just seemed more contentious than in previous years.
Thanksgiving seems to always be associated with violence. George Washington declared it a holiday after the battle of Saratoga. Abraham Lincoln made the day official in the middle of the Civil War. Franklin Delano Roosevelt confirmed that during WWII.
But it goes further back than that.
We learned in school that the Pilgrims suffered sickness and sacrifice before getting together with the Indians in 1621 to celebrate the harvest and thank them for helping them survive. Things got dicier after that as new colonists introduced deadly diseases, claimed more land and shoved the Indians aside.
Not even two decades after that first Thanksgiving, the governor of Massachusetts Colony declared a Thanksgiving to celebrate the return of hunters who had murdered 700 Pequot Indians in Connecticut Colony. The continued back and forth raiding and killing, along with famine and disease, decimated 30–50% of the population on both sides.
On Thanksgiving in 1970, members of 25 native American tribes gathered at the statue of the Wampanoag chief who welcomed the Pilgrims to America and helped them survive those early years. Looking down at Plymouth Rock, they announced a National Day of Mourning to recognize the struggles of their peoples that has been celebrated every Thanksgiving since.
I wonder if they equate the coronavirus with those few settlers that arrived in 1620? Would it have made a difference if they had made more effort to control the invaders when they first arrived?
Instead of calling it a hoax, a flu that would go away by Easter, and a ploy of the Democrats that would disappear after the elections, would it have made a difference if the president had taken the virus seriously and not just farmed it out to the states and later to a coronavirus task force that he stopped meeting with over five months ago?
If the president had not disdained wearing masks and encouraged his followers to “fight for their liberty” and ignore CDC guidelines, would our number of deaths due to the virus continue to hover around a shameful 20% of the world’s total?
Would nurses in some of the reddest of red states that have the highest infection and death rates in the world hear bewildered patients express denial that they could be dying of a virus that wasn’t real?
“You don’t have to believe in covid, you don’t have to believe in a certain political party or not, you don’t have to believe whether masks work or not. You can just do it because you know that one thing is very real. And that’s that 100 percent of our capacity is now being used.” North Dakota Governor Doug Bergum, lamenting the lack of precautions taken.
As Trump’s coronavirus czar Scott Atlas goes on national TV to tell people to “rise up” against COVID restrictions and celebrate Thanksgiving, the beaten down Center for Disease Control is telling people not to travel. Even if people have a test for the virus before they go, it’s not a guarantee they won’t be a carrier when they get to their destination.
Dr. Atlas says we need to celebrate because, for the elderly, this may be their last Thanksgiving. But do you want to be the one fulfilling that prophecy when a vaccine may be available in a month or two? Will you celebrate next Christmas, or maybe this one, looking at that empty chair with regret?
Even if it was possible, it’s too late for the Indians to send the white men back to Europe or for us to send the virus back to China. It’s time to leave Fantasyland, get serious about the virus, and retire Donald Trump to Mar-a-Lago.