Maybe We're Too Stupid to Recover
Updated: May 12, 2020
When the apocalypse finally comes, the zombies will be the least of our problems.
I’ve been thinking lately about an article I read years ago that’s always stuck with me. It said that we Americans don’t necessarily like to think of ourselves as the smartest of people (which is probably true—after all, 14 percent of us have a plan for the zombie apocalypse). We don’t think of ourselves as the most sophisticated. But we do like to think of ourselves as the most decent. The ones who, at heart, know what’s right and would help out our neighbors in times of trouble.
Well, you can chuck that crap right on the ash heap of history. Sure, I believe that a lot of Americans, even most of them, are decent people who have a true sense of what’s right. But rushing to get “back to normal” while hundreds of Americans are still dying each day only confirms that we truly are allowing ourselves, our country, and our public policies to be dragged around by a small minority of the morally bankrupt and terminally stupid—and I honestly begin to wonder if we as a nation are literally too dumb to recover from this crisis at all. (I’m not just talking about the Simpleton-in-Chief here, either. But hold on. I’ll get to him.)
Look, OF COURSE we’re all sick of living the way the pandemic has forced us to live. Good Lord, I’d like to be able to get out and see my family and friends again. For that matter, I’d like to get out and see ANYONE again. (Strangers in masks wandering around supermarkets trying to figure out which way they’re supposed to walk up and down the aisles don’t count). I want to go out for pizza. I want to see a movie. I want to take myself out to a ballgame. I want my old life back as much as anyone else.
But people—IT’S NOT TIME YET. IT’S TOO SOON. The coronavirus doesn’t care about how stir-crazy we are. It’s not interested in the fact that you have no more episodes of Tiger King to binge, and it doesn’t give a crap that you want to hit the gym or get your hair done or go back to the beach to work on your tan. WE NEED MORE TIME TO GET THIS UNDER CONTROL.
How do I know this? There are a lot of reasons, but the easiest ones to see may be the examples set by other countries. Italy and Spain, two of the countries that have been in the longest and most severe lockdowns, are only just now easing restrictions after seeing record lows in their coronavirus death tolls. New Zealand, from the start of the crisis, actually paid attention to science (remember science? It got us to the moon once). That country’s prime minster shut its country down for seven weeks at the start of the crisis, and recently recorded its second straight day of no new coronavirus cases at all. Not one. None, zilch, zero.
Most Americans actually agree with me. In fact, a recent poll in the Washington Post was only one of many that found a vast majority of Americans oppose reopening restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses, even as governors begin to reopen their states.
But thanks to the terminally stupid, we’re about to begin easing restrictions while more than a thousand Americans died yesterday, bringing our total dead to more than 80,000. And according to White House documents, we may see as many as 3,000 deaths per day by June 1, with the carnage ultimately reaching into six figures. Pause for a moment and contemplate those numbers. Really think about them. Think about them, and think about which and how many of your loved ones you’d be willing to toss onto that pile of dead bodies so that folks can go back to the mall and buy a pair of shoes and a soft pretzel.
There likely are terminally stupid people responsible for this right in your home state, even in your hometown. Take a look—there they are, standing on the steps of your state capitol, brandishing rifles and waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, defending their God-given right to gather in large numbers and transmit lethal diseases. Some of them are wearing bandannas over their faces, but we know who they are. They’re the same people who used to insist “Blue Lives Matter,” but who are now screaming obscenities in the faces of the police officers who risk contracting coronavirus just by standing there and doing their jobs.
The hopelessly dim-witted, thick-headed, simple-minded cretins in our midst are the ones telling us that “masks do no good.” They’re telling us that sheltering-in-place is just “the government’s way of controlling people.” They’re telling us that we need to breath and sneeze and cough on each other MORE, so that we can achieve “herd immunity.” They know this for a fact because they read it on Facebook. Or they were told by their brother’s neighbor’s aunt’s cousin, who heard it from the sister of the guy they went to high school with. Or (and I especially love this one) they “did their own research” by Googling it for ten minutes instead of listening to all those so-called “experts” who think they’re so big because of their fancy “medical degrees” that they spent years of their lives earning.
See what I mean? Stupid. Utterly, desperately, dumber-than-a-bag-of-hammers stupid. And who’s got them worked up so much? Who’s profiting from their lack of any hint of gray matter whatsoever? That would be President Bonehead, the guy who has just enough working brain cells to find a way to weaponize cabin fever and turn what should be an issue of public health and safety into a political one (remember the “LIBERATE!” tweet?). It’s roughly the same thing he did to weaponize the anger and dissatisfaction they felt about their lives in general in 2016. For the love of all that’s holy, people, ignorance and stupidity are not political virtues, and this is not a political issue. IT’S AN ISSUE OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY.
Let me put this another way: I haven't spent eight weeks cooped up by myself in my apartment with no one to keep me company but my goldfish only to have the entire country set back to square one just because a bunch of mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging imbeciles want to get the deep-fryers boiling again at the Waffle House.
But I digress.
Back to President Bonehead. As he tries to bolster his reelection hopes, how will the Dunce-in-Chief continue to nourish the insatiable appetite of stupidity of those with whom he's surrounded himself? Easy. He’ll take the dead bodies of tens of thousands of our fellow Americans, many of whom are stacked like cordwood in refrigerated trucks around the nation, and magically “normalize” their deaths, the way he’s normalized every other abhorrent and loathsome facet of his presidency. Permanently separate families at the border? No problem. Cozy up to Vladimir Putin? Sure, that’s fine. Pressure foreign governments to dig up dirt on political opponents? Move along, sonny. Nothing to see here.
So many people have compared the past three years to 1984, a story in which “Ignorance is Strength” and “Freedom is Slavery.” And now, we’re living in that book’s sequel. For years, low-wage employees have been told, “Those are jobs meant for high-school kids. If you want to earn more, you should work harder and make something of yourselves!" Now, these exact same people are suddenly “front-line heroes." Which I suppose they are, since they’re literally risking their lives to stock grocery store shelves so that your kids can have their Lucky Charms. But while these “front-line heroes” indeed deserve our gratitude for keeping us fed, I’m sure they would appreciate safe working conditions, a livable wage, and health benefits even more than their shiny new Orwellian title. (Don’t hold your breath behind your mask waiting for that to happen, though.)
And what’s next? It’s only a matter of time before the tens of thousands of people who died needlessly (and the tens of thousands yet to perish, including friends and loved ones yet to be stricken) will be remembered as “the honored dead,” as martyrs who nobly sacrificed their lives so that we could attend the annual End-of-the-Year Blowout Sale at your local Ford/Lincoln/Mercury dealership.
In the end, it’s all about branding. You can offer people a shit sandwich in America, but if you brand it skillfully enough, they’ll not only buy it in droves, they’ll come running back for seconds. That’s exactly how stupid the terminally stupid in America are.
Listen. I truly believe that the vast majority of Americans are good, kind, decent people, and hopefully, their efforts will see us through to a cure for this terrible virus. But when the apocalypse finally comes, it won’t be the zombies who destroy humankind for good. It’ll be the small minority of aggressively ignorant simpletons marching for their right to stand in line for a delicious Shit Sandwich Lunch Special (now with curly fries and a large soft drink! Hurry—it’s available for a limited time only!!).