By Tom Burke / Herald columnist
It’s summertime, and the livin’ should be easy.
But it’s not.
To begin there’s a shortage of Walla Walla sweet onions — due to the July heat — and that ain’t good for anyone except, maybe, Georgia-based Vidalia onion growers.
Then there’s some other bad stuff that both Red and Blue should agree on, such as:
Forest fires. We can all agree forest fires are bad here, in Europe, and in Siberia where there’s more scorched earth than all the rest of the world combined.
And North Korea’s saber-rattling; that ain’t good. They got nukes. And the Taliban in Afghanistan is bad, very bad.
And Arkansas is down to eight ICU beds as covid-19 patients, 97 percent unvaccinated, have overwhelmed hospitals; and covid is spiking dangerously, especially in Florida which had more covid cases in the past week than all 30 states with the lowest case rates combined.
But after that, is there anything “bad” that Red and Blue can agree on? I’m thinking no and asking “Why?”
Is it because so many people now filter events through a political lens? It seems to me that Republicans, MAGAs, and Fox News watchers apparently see no danger in covid (Can you say, “Sturgis?”) and now that it’s August. the MAGAs are anxiously awaiting Trump’s triumphant return to the White House. (Yeah, right.)
Maybe it’s because disinformation about covid and masks and vaccines isn’t just “reported” on Fox or OAN, but they are among the prime purveyors of the lies endangering the economy, putting people in hospital, and, yes, killing them; and health, civic and school officials (and most everybody with a functioning brain) knows ya gotta get the shot and mask up, even if some governors are saying, “To hell,” with public health and idiots are assaulting health professionals screaming about “freedom.”
And Republicans poo-poo global warming and the resulting wildfires and heat waves; and changing Gulf Stream currents, melting polar ice caps, weather-related food shortages (Washington state’s 2021 wheat crop was decimated by the July heat wave), more flooding, worse and worse droughts, higher death rates (at least 446 people in the state perished in the July scorcher), sea level rise, and power-grid-failures. They are all discounted because, say the R’s, MAGAs, and conservative echo chambers, climate change is not real, it’s a hoax; or it’s the result of natural factors and a continuation of natural cycles; or the science around climate change is not settled. If pushed, some on the right might concede humans are contributing to changing climate, but won’t agree they are the main contributors, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.
You see, denying science — whether it’s climate change; covid; or even geology, biology, and paleontology (a third of Texans believe man and dinosaurs co-existed!) — seems a core tenet of today’s Republican party.
Of course viewing everything through a political lens goes beyond science. It even extends to denying what we’ve witnessed with our own eyes.
Everyone saw, live on TV, the Trumpists’ Jan. 6 attack on the police, their invasion of the Capitol, their attempt to prevent the vote certification, their quest to find Vice President Pence and threats to hang him from a scaffold; and the death of a woman who was visibly hunting our elected representatives.
But the Republicans, MAGAS, ProudBoys, Trumpists, etc. all lie about the insurrection. Stupid, insulting, deceitful descriptions, made by people in the House and Senate at the time of the attack, describe the rioters as “tourists” and buy what Trump and his shills are selling: such as the fiction that Ashli Babbitt was a “martyr” and not the rioter we all saw on tape.
Something as elemental as voting has been twisted by the R’s and MAGAs. They’ve made Trump’s Big Lie the ultimate litmus test for GOP “loyalty;” so unless you buy the Big Lie. you are out, ala Liz Cheney. And they ignore Trump’s attack on the Justice Department, his attempted coup, Rudy’s and the My Pillow Guy’s crazy, and work to disenfranchise the non-Republican electorate by aggressively pursuing voter suppression; and in the R states it’s all it’s Jim Crow and fascist “reforms.”
Why talk about all this “stuff?”
Because I’m old enough to remember how parents greeted, with unmitigated joy, Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine and rushed to get their children inoculated; or that HepB, DTaP, Polio, MMR, and chickenpox vaccines are already required for all school kids, so why not covid vaccines for students and teachers; or I just finished re-watching “Band of Brothers” and was again reminded how we could once fight a common enemy.
So it’s August. Congress is on vacation. Good idea. Me too. So next time I’m gonna write about fun stuff; maybe my quest for the “perfect” vacation spot that isn’t located in central New Hampshire (where I’d like to be right now); instead of all the “bad” assaulting us.
Stay safe and keep masking up (It ain’t over.)
Tom Burke’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.