On Saturday, writing for USA TODAY, conservative Naval War College Professor Tom Nichols laid into supporters of President Donald Trump who have politicized public health and refused to wear masks, calling them a “death cult.”
“We long ago became a narcissistic nation whose citizens believe they can become competent in almost any subject by watching enough television and spending enough time on the internet. But I was certain that a true national crisis — a war, a depression, or yes, a pandemic — would snap people back to reality,” wrote Nichols. “I was wrong to be so optimistic.”
“There is no one more responsible for this particular moment than President Donald Trump, but all he has done is play to a gallery whose seats were already full by the time he ran for office,” wrote Nichols. “An entire claque of enablers joined in, knowing there was plenty of money to be made feeding this self-centered, anti-social nihilism. When the pandemic arrived, these enablers in the conservative media and among the cowardly Republican political class took their cues — masks, no masks, closing, opening — from Trump, whose statements for months were a fusillade of nonsense that reflected only his own pouty anger that Mother Nature had the sheer brass to mess up his presidential grift.”
As of Saturday, the United States has topped 1,000 coronavirus cases a day for four consecutive days. And a big part of this, Nichols argued, is a right-wing culture that has dismissed experts and jumped on a warped perception of freedom.
“They see endangering others as empowerment, a way of telling people whom they believe look down on them that no one, no matter how smart or accomplished, can tell them what to do,” wrote Nichols. “For these people, our national motto is not ‘In God We Trust’ or ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ but rather: ‘You’re Not the Boss of Me.’ So committed are these Americans to assuaging their sore egos over their imagined lack of status that they are literally willing to die for it. Unfortunately, they seem all too willing to take many of us with them.”
Trump supporters, Nichols concluded, are “secure in the knowledge that scientists are quacks and that no one understands viruses like Donald Trump. They will likely still believe that even as they lie in a hospital bed and are given last rites with a ventilator down their throats. If only the rest of us did not have to risk being in the bed next to them.”
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