With deaths from Covid-19 reaching more than 210,000, you might think that, as Americans, we would be humbled and maybe even a little fearful for the lives of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. But that does not appear to be the case. A growing number of Americans have concluded that they are “just over it.” They don’t care; they just want to get back to normal. They want to be out with their friends and in their favorite bars listening to music. You know: they want to enjoy the pleasures offered by American capitalism.
This fact was cemented as thousands of the ever so loving members of the Evangelical Christian movement filled the state capital in Nashville for a maskless “worship session” this past weekend. They wanted to tell the mayor that he could not keep them from worshiping God and that God would protect them from the novel coronavirus.
I mean it’s not like their God was the same deity who created the doctors that say mass gatherings are a bad fucking idea or anything!
All frustrated jokes aside, these white people are showing a remarkable level of disregard for their fellow humans. They are acting like making tiny sacrifices, and temporarily giving up some of their pleasures is a form of oppression. They feel as if they should not have to sacrifice anything for the good of their neighbors. You can hear the selfishness in every one of their arguments against wearing masks:
“Why should I have to wear a mask?, I am healthy.”
“Why should I have to wear a mask? It won’t prevent me from getting it. And even if it does prevent me from spreading it someone else, that just means that those people should not be out in public anyway.”
I have to ask: “Are white people even capable of empathy?”
The answer appears to be no. These white people are incapable of seeing how their actions affect the lives of others. Maybe more importantly, they seem incapable of even caring that their selfish desires have negative effects on the lives of their fellow humans.
So, the next question is why?
I hate to sound like a libtard commie,* but I think a lot of the blame falls on neoliberalism, capitalism, and consumerism. Our entire economy is based on fulfilling the needs of the individual. Typically, when you buy a consumer product – whether it’s a car or mobile phone – you are fulling your individual needs and not the needs of anyone else. And, in the narcissistic psychology of capitalism, one’s family, which might benefit from a new car, is merely an extension of the self. We are taught in the home, in our schools, and even in the prosperity gospel churches that selfishness is good. Success, after all, means looking out for ‘numero uno.
Our economy, education system, and religion all intersect to make us who we are. So much of white America is selfish, entitled, and unempathetic. Yet, as angry as I get at the people on my social media feed, and by tourists in Nashville (who, often enough, act like petulant children because they can’t have the same experiences that they did at this time last year!) I can’t stay angry at them. They are not the problem. They are the end result of the problem. Until we change how we do commerce and educate our children then this extensional threat that entitlement has become will only get worse.
* Editor’s note: Hey… If the shoe fits…
Photo © Yaroslav Danylchenko