Going viral

Nothing like a pandemic to bring out the crazies.

Naturally, they reflect the fractures in our culture.

Ÿ “The best way to love our neighbors is to do so from a distance right now,” says one Episcopal priest. Yup.

Ÿ “We feel we are being persecuted for the faith by being told to close our doors,” says the pastor of a church in Baton Rouge.

Really? When all large gatherings are discouraged, you do you really think you’re being singled out? Of have you just run out of other things to whine about?

Ÿ “I’ve got news for you: This church will never close,” says a pastor in Florida. “The only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place.”

I’ve got news for you, pastor: The Rapture is a theological fiction, and your phony bravado does you and your church no credit. How many people will you expose by never closing?

Ÿ Jerry Falwell Jr. speculates that the virus is the work of North Korea. Evidence for this claim? None.

But to seal his reputation as a false prophet, he says: “I just think it’s silly to be wringing your hands and worrying about something like this…”

Ÿ That’s essentially been the response of Missouri Gov. Mike Parson. A good ol’ boy Republican, he refuses to take action because his philosophy of government will not allow government to be a force for good.

Ÿ Meanwhile, in Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly is criticized by GOP legislators for acting too aggressively. She’s a Democrat, after all. She could be planning to take away their guns or impose a dictatorship or something.

Ÿ Trump insists on calling this the “Chinese virus.” He insists this isn’t racist, though it is, thoroughly and calculatedly. He’s playing to the bigotry and ignorance of his base.

Ÿ Take the clown in government in Riley County, Kansas, who says the virus won’t be a problem there because they’re aren’t a lot of Chinese people living there. That just doesn’t make sense any way you look at it.

Ÿ Some say it’s not racist to call it a “Chinese virus.” After all, we called earlier epidemics the Hong Kong Flu, the Spanish Flu, and the like. And those weren’t tinged with racism?

Ÿ The Chinese, for their part, insist that the virus was introduced to their country by Americans. Iranians say the same. Both have governments that can’t be trusted.

Ÿ The Chinese government bungled its handling of the virus at first, allowing it to spread like wildfire, to change the metaphor. Trump’s response has been remarkably similar. That should not be a surprise because Trump and Xi both work from the same authoritarian playbook and will not listen to experts on any issue. We’ll see if Trump can lie his way out of this one.

Ÿ At any rate, health experts say testing for the virus is no longer necessary in most areas. We have already failed to contain it. It’s everywhere now.

Ÿ Worst-case scenario: 1 million or so deaths in the U.S. Pray that the right people are allowed to make the right decisions to keep it from getting that bad.

Ÿ As for those who continue to downplay the threat, and insist that they always took it seriously when clearly they did not, never believe a word they say about anything ever again. Never. Not one word.

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