Notes from the Zombie Apocalypse: This isn’t your (grand)father’s national emergency. It’s been Trumped.
My cousin texted me this morning about her great score, she got some toilet paper at the store this morning. She further remarked that she thought it seemed like WWII. She was referring to the empty shelves and it made her think about WWII rationing.
My dad was sitting at the breakfast table next to me. He was a pre-teen during WWII and remembers it well. So, I asked, were the shelves empty during WWII rationing. He said no.
Then, he went on about rationing of gas and certain foods, and shoes. My grandfather was in the shoe business. Leather was rationed so they made shoes out of canvass and rope, and they smelled bad, like horse poop.
My dad recounted further anecdotes. Grandma didn’t drive for months so she could save gas rations for a family trip to New York to see her mother and sisters. They saved cooking grease to sell back to the butcher for a few pennies, and saved dry cleaning hangers to bring back. Metal drives and community gardens were a favorite project in the neighborhoods. It was patriotic to ration and save, collect and donate, any community project that could aid the war effort.
Things are different nowadays. Last night, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had to use the Emergency Broadcast System, previously only used for tests ever since I was a child, to announce that the Chicago Lakefront was closed. Too many people went out when it got a little warmer and congregated on the beaches and in the parks.
While the lakefront crowd was unwise, I don’t necessarily blame these people. I don’t blame Lightfoot or Pritzker or Cuomo of New York for their dire warnings and admonitions either. They’re doing their best with the miserable situation they’ve been handed. This is what happens when there’s bad leadership at the very top.
Since the “greed is good” Reagan years, we’ve gone from WWII national and community driven patriotism to some bizarre caricature of patriotism. Now, patriotism is all about hugging a flag and babbling some nonsense about Jesus. Patriotism is withholding information about a deadly virus for months so you can sell high and buy low. Patriotism is corporate welfare and corporations holding up on production so they can price gouge and blame a few hoarders for high prices. Patriotism is inciting doubt and disbelief so your cult can spread lies and sickness. Dying to keep stock prices up for the rich is patriotic.
Community response isn’t what it used to be. Some goofy right wing church in Glenview continued to hold services and meetings, against the pleas of local leaders and medical professionals to distance. The church service on March 15th spread COVID-19 to dozens of parishioners, and then of course, their family members, their neighbors and everyone in the grocery store they have or will encounter. The pastor’s excuse was that the lockdown had not yet been ordered. He ignored all the news that lockdown was imminent and recommended. I guess Jesus was going to protect the obedient and worthy, but he fell down on the job, or maybe they’re insufficiently righteous. We can expect churches to be about as helpful as they were during the plague years in the middle ages, blaming sinners and congregating the faithful to their deaths. As far as I can tell, the reporters who interviewed the Glenview pastor failed to ask how much his decision to conduct the meeting was informed by church leader, Holy Brother Trump, calling the pandemic a hoax. On a side note, the small company I work for sent us home to work the week of March 9th. It wasn’t rocket science to start taking precautions.
Trump supporters continue to parrot their leader, it’s a hoax and trying to keep people alive is bad for business. The media concentrates more on Trump’s racist “Chinese virus” talk and ignores the price gouging by corporations, the corporate welfare bailout that bribes a few people with a one-time $1200 payment.
No, this isn’t WWII or your father’s or grandfather’s community project. There are no calls for true patriotism or community projects of social distancing and flattening the curve. We’re sometimes admonished, but never inspired or called to the aid of our country. Bad leadership at the top and it’s going to stay that way for a very long time because there’s no will to change it from either party, Republicans or Democrats.