Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Freedom's Just Another Word For Privilege


First, the grim reality:

In Florida, hospitalizations are now catching up after a month of increasing cases. The state had 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 yesterday, the highest number the state has reported since the pandemic began, according to the Associated Press. Florida is now leading the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19.

The state's previous record was in Jul 23, 2020, well before COVID-19 vaccines, when 10,170 Floridians were hospitalized. Florida is now averaging 1,525 adult hospitalizations a day, and 35 daily pediatric hospitalizations.

On Saturday the state recorded 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state's highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, the AP said.

Despite the rise in case activity, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order this weekend banning schools from issuing mask mandates. In the mandate, DeSantis said it is unclear from the science if masks protect children from the virus and said it is a parent's choice to determine if a student should be masked.

One out of three new COVID cases are in the Republican- run states of Florida (DeSantis) and Texas (Greg Abbott). They also happen to be states where the vaccination rate is lower than the national average. [Ed.:  Get. The. Damn. Vaccine.]

Paul Krugman has a good explainer why DeSantis is determined to let Floridians die at the altar of his political ambition:

There’s no mystery about why this has happened. At every stage of the pandemic DeSantis has effectively acted as an ally of the coronavirus, for example by issuing orders blocking businesses from requiring that their patrons show proof of vaccination and schools from requiring masks. More generally, he has helped create a state of mind in which vaccine skepticism flourishes and refusal to take precautions is normalized. [snip]

So, given these grim developments, one might have expected or at least hoped that DeSantis would reconsider his position. In fact, he has been making excuses — it’s all about the air-conditioning! He has been claiming that any new restrictions would have unacceptable costs for the economy — although Florida’s recent performance looks terrible if you place any value on human life.

Above all, he has been playing the liberal-conspiracy-theory card, with fund-raising letters declaring that the “radical left” is “coming for your freedom.”

So let’s talk about what the right means when it talks about “freedom.” Since the pandemic began, many conservatives have insisted that actions to limit the death toll — social distancing, wearing a mask and now getting vaccinated — should be matters of personal choice. Does that position make any sense? [snip]

My answer is that when people on the right talk about “freedom” what they actually mean is closer to “defense of privilege” — specifically the right of certain people (generally white male Christians) to do whatever they want.

Not incidentally, if you go back to the roots of modern conservatism, you find people like Barry Goldwater defending the right of businesses to discriminate against Black Americans. In the name of freedom, of course. A lot, though not all, of the recent panic about “cancel culture” is about protecting the right of powerful men to mistreat women. And so on.

Once you understand that the rhetoric of freedom is actually about privilege, things that look on the surface like gross inconsistency and hypocrisy start to make sense.  (our emphasis)

That cramped, selfish understanding of "freedom" in right- wingers' minds explains so much of what their belief system is all about:  "(fill in the blank) for me/thee, not for thee/me." Beyond not being concerned with the welfare of the community and society as a whole, it's borderline sociopathic.  

So, unless and until the COVID surge starts cutting a larger swath through their own towns and families, and the remorse starts to set in ("I should have gotten the damn vaccine"), it will be all ahead full over the cliff, because they have the "freedom" to do whatever they want.

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