NOTE: Today’s blog post is written by Gary, my husband. He was reflecting on the fact that we have, depending on the data source, reached or exceeded 200,000 American deaths from Covid-19. Gary and I feel that we have become numb to the loss; maybe complacent is a better term. He wrote this as part of a letter to our children. I asked if he would allow me to share it on the blog. Obviously, he said yes.
One other thing you need to know. In our family since Trump was elected, we have referred to him as the CF. CF stands for character flaw. We were naming his flaws, dishonest, misogynist, selfish, ignorant, when our daughter Leah noted that there were too many to count and that in fact, he was just a giant Character Flaw, hence he is the CF which is how Gary refers to him the letter that follows.
Today is the final day of summer with fall well entrenched in the air and the days rapidly shortening. Fall officially begins tomorrow morning. It is a time for introspection for us as Jews with the high holidays underway and the annual fast less than a week away. It is a time of bounty with harvests, apple picking and pumpkin picking and a time when leaves begin to change color leading to what will be the prettiest time of the year.
At the same time, it is a time when summer plants wither and die, flowers fade, and soon, frost covers the morning landscape. You can smell the change in the air. That warm, soft smell of summer is giving way to the smell of leaves and the mornings start to become foggy with the sun slower to burn off the haze. So, while it is a time of beauty and bounty, it is also a time of loss and withering.
This year, of course, it is a time to mourn in very specific ways. For so many people, it is a time to mourn the loss of certainty with jobs lost, incomes lost; with lives upended, people suddenly stuck at home. People are working from home more than ever before; people are stuck home without daycare available to them and schools are still struggling, even with the school year already underway, to find ways to deal with COVID and still provide for the needs of their students, their teachers and other staff and the families that depend on them.
Everything is upended. Things we have taken for granted are no longer true. Going out to eat, going to a movie, going to a ballgame, a museum, a concert are all either no longer possible or are so very fraught.
There are different counts of how many Americans have died of COVID but it appears to me that we have, in fact, reached another tragic milestone: 200,000 dead Americans. As brutal and horrible as this reality is, as many people have died, have lost loved ones, often dying alone in ICUs with family unable to be with them, the fact that it did not have to be this way makes it so much more tragic.
The CF has been accused of mismanaging the pandemic, but that accusation wildly understates what he has done and how serious the crimes he has committed are. People make mistakes but they are not all created equal. If a doctor makes a mistake, someone could be harmed, someone could die. If an air traffic controller makes a mistake, many people may die.
If a president makes a mistake – let’s say President Obama failing to block a resolution unfairly condemning Israel, there can be repercussions on an international level. The Palestinians, in that case, became yet more emboldened in their rejectionist policies. But that was, relatively speaking, a minor mistake. A much larger mistake was President George W Bush invading Iraq. It broke that country apart, opened a Pandora’s Box of Sunni and Shiite militant groups, bolstered the Iranian regime and paved the way for the creation of ISIS. It cost many, many lives in the region, cost thousands of American soldiers’ lives and cost us enormous sums of money. It also harmed Israel by permitting Iran to send advanced weapons to Hezbollah (and more recently also to other militant Shiite groups) over land through Iraq and Syria.
That was a gigantic mistake. It has repercussions that have continued to harm us and will continue to harm us for some time. But it was still a mistake. (Not a mistake by Cheney – intentional on his part and on the part of others. But, I believe, a mistake on W’s part).
The CF, however, did not make a mistake. He thought that his intentional sabotage of our efforts to confront the coronavirus pandemic would bolster him politically. It has not worked out that way – that was a mistake. But he absolutely, positively intentionally lied to us about the pandemic and he has blood on his hands. I cannot tell you how many people have died because of the CF’s lies, but I am absolutely certain that he lied and that deaths resulted. We know that from innumerable reports over these months. We know that from the audio tapes recorded by Bob Woodward.
And we know it from the words of the CF himself. He admitted that he lied. He lied while admitting it – when he tried to sell us on the excuse that he did it to avoid fear among the American people. Nonetheless, he lied to us. And, because he lied to us, and because he also presided over an administration that left its job, the job of organizing our response to the virus, of generating strategies for confronting it, to the states, lots more Americans died. Lots of Americans became sick, many suffering a devastating illness, many suffering a very long term illness, many never regaining all of what they lost. Many lost loved ones. Many will never be whole again.
Think about it for a minute. Someone in that position, someone who has chosen to take a position that has enormous responsibilities, that places the health, safety, even the lives of the American people in his hands. He has actively campaigned for the position, been in that position and had years to familiarize himself with the responsibilities inherent in it. He has been given a huge challenge to save Americans’ lives. That challenge is his duty – his sacred duty – as the person given all of the titles and powers and resources that come with the job he chose to take.
And he intentionally chose to let Americans die instead. He said things – it’s a hoax, the media and the Democrats are hyping it, it’s no worse than the flu, it will soon disappear, it will magically disappear, the best thing you can do if you have a mild case is to go to work with it. He’s said things – open up the economy, open up the schools, open up sporting events, open up anything and everything, open them up quickly and regardless of the consequences.
Think about this for a moment, during the entire time that we have been confronting this horrific, deadly plague, he never once – never – took the position of waiting. He never said that those people in that meat packing plant should not be there until they figure out how to safely operate it. He never said that eating in a restaurant in a state with incredibly high virus prevalence might be dangerous. Not even once.
The intent is as horrific as the crime itself; it is unforgivable. It is something people should be learning about for generations to come, forever. When we learn about American history and we think of people who have been traitors to our country, we should not first think about Benedict Arnold whose name itself has come to be synonymous with such treachery. In the future, that distinction should belong to the CF. (“He took money to provide classified information to the Russians. He’s a CF.” “She hacked into the computers of our electrical grid and demanded ransom payments in order to not plunge millions of Americans into darkness during a heat wave. She’s a CF.”)
200,000 Americans and counting. It is sad, tragic, horrific. It is worse than that because it is also treachery. And it is a disaster that is far from over.
Another tragedy, of course, is the passing of the magnificent and beloved Ruth Bader Ginsburg whose life is exactly the opposite of his. She did not come from wealth. She faced obstacles that she ought not have had to face because of her gender, because she was a mother. Nobody took her entrance exams for her. Nobody used their money and influence to help her get into the places she got into. And, once there, she was consistent, moral, ethical and used her passion, abilities and energies to help others. She was a good and loyal friend to many and demanded more of herself than of others.
And she should also be remembered forever. She should be remembered as a hero, a role model and an inspiration to us all. Women, in particular, will find inspiration from her good works and, as Jewish people, we can allow ourselves just a bit of nachas that it was one of our own who did all of this.
Her story is one that we can all think of when we wonder what it is that we can do to make the world a better place. For crying out loud, she was 5’ 1” and probably never even weighed 100 pounds. So much greatness in such a little package. She could fit in aunt Rochelle’s clothing. (Editor’s note: Gary’s sister is also a petite person as anyone who knows her can attest – also, not a person to be underestimated.)
While the political part of what is going on now is very concerning, and while it may take a while to know what the outcome of it will be, the greatness that she embodied is something we will hold onto and let us allow some of that light to shine on us.
NOTE: I wanted to share this because I think we need to look at the totality of what Trump has done through this pandemic. It can’t be emphasized enough. We need to look for the light in the midst of the darkness, and RBG’s legacy can offer that, but we need to reckon with his actions and that many have been complicit in it. We can disagree about what would have been the best strategy to fight the virus, but his lies cannot be forgiven.