Some things that perplex, annoy and frighten us are visible, audible and provable, especially if we can find witnesses. Others are kept out of sight, and thereby out of mind. Much of our world is flooded with empirical evidence, available to the senses of both the originator and the recipient. It can be interpreted as “fact” (if we are so disposed) and shared in different communities.
Other “things” remain out of reach of our “senses” and thereby render themselves, especially by those who chose to live in a world of miasmic, ephemeral and unprovable occurences, at least from the perspective of the available organs of collection, collation and dissemination, news, academic journals, legal transcripts, and accounting/banking documents.
Back, way back in college, I found an insightful piece about Ernest Hemingway in Playboy and quoted it in an essay on the writer, as an assignment in English 20. Today, I borrow from another piece in Playboy, excerpted by Globe and Mail columnist Sarah Kendzior, cohost of the podcast Gaslit Nation and author of the coming book, hiding in Plain Sight, in today’s edition.
‘Life is what you do while you’re waiting to die,’ Donald Trump, then a real estate tycoon bound for bankruptcy, told Playboy magazine in 1990. ‘You know, it is all a rather sad situation.’
“Life?’ the interviewer asked. ‘Or death?’
‘Both. We’re her and we live our 60, 70, por 80 years and we’re gone. You win, you win and in the end, its doesn’t mean a hell of a lot. But iti is something to do—to keep you interested.’
Ms Kendzior then intervenes:
For his entire life Mr. Trump has been a self-described fatalist. He has called himself a fatalist in interviews spanning nearly 30 years. This admission sis a rare
expression of consistent honesty for a man infamous for lying about everything –his fortune, his criminal ties, objective reality. It’s the outlook he hints at when jhe does things such as retweeting a meme of himself fiddling like Nero, while the novel coronavirus spreads across the United States.
Nothing seems to matter to Mr. Trump—not only in the sense that things that matter to other people, like love and loss, do not matter to him. Nothingness itself matters: Destruction and annihilation are what he craves. ‘When bad times come, then I’ll get whatever I want,’ he told Barbara Walters in a 1980’s interview. His initial reaction to 9/11 was that the collapse of the World Trade Center made his own buildings look taller., His initial reaction to the 2008 economic collapse was joy at his potential to profit. Everything to Mr. Trump is transactional, and you, all of you—are the transaction.
In February 2014, when asked about the direction of the United States, Mr. Trump rooted for its demise.
‘You know what solves it?’ Mr. Trump told Fox News. ‘When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have a (laughs), you know, you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.’
Everything Mr. Trump has done since taking office has served to fulfill this goal, from appointing Steve Bannon, who also called for the collapse of the government, as an adviser; to gutting departments that protect national security and public health; to his disdain for slain soldiers and their widows, to his horrific handling of natural disasters such as Hurricane Maria.
For months, Mr. Trump has done little to stop the coronavirus from spreading throughout the U.S, creating a death toll that grows rapidly every day. As citizens self-isolate, he refuses to supply federal funds to states for the much needed medical equipment, such as masks or ventilators…..
What makes Mr. Trump particularly dangerous is that he is not acting alone. He is backed by the Republican Party, which translates his natural apathy to suffering in to malicious policies. Mr. Trump is surrounded by brutal plutocrats such as Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross, who, like Mr. Trump, are proteges of the infamous corporate raider and former White House adviser Carl Icahn, who set the standard of destroying companies for profit.
Mr. Trump is also flanked by a number of religious extremists, such as William Barr, Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence, who use biblical imagery to cloak their brutal goals. The overall effect is a group that will sacrifice human lives to lift the stock market. Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick of Texas stated that grandparents should die for the U.S. economy. In that mentality, the U.S. exists to be raided and razed, its citizens disposable and inconvenient….
Maybe it is because the world finally exists as it has in his fantasies: Everything is collapsing, yet he remains untouchable. No GOP member has denounced Mr. Trump, just as they refused to impeach him; because Mr. Trump is still in office, public officials are struggling to contain the virus.
Mr. Trump is untouchable in a world where human touch literally kills. If the U.S> is to survive the pandemic, we need more than medical intervention. WE need to get rid of the host.
Bravo Ms Kendzior…
And then there is this, as if to demonstrate the prophetic nature of Ms Kenbdzior’s piece:
From Reuters, By Marisa Taylor, in the Globe and Mail, March 25, 2020:
The Trump administration cut staff by more than two-thirds at a key U.S. public health agency operating inside China, as part of a larger rollback of U.S.-funded health and science experts on the ground there leading up to the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters has learned….
The CDC’s China head count has shrunk to around 14 staffers, down from approximately 47 people since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the documents show. The four people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the losses included epidemiologists and other health professionals….
Reductions at the U.S. agencies sidelines health experts, scientists and other professionals who might have been able to help China mount an earlier response to the novel coronavirus, as well as provide the U.S. government with more information about what was coming, according to the people who spoke with Reuters. The Trump administration in February chastised China forf censoring information about the outbreak and for keeping U.S. experts from entering the country to assist.
Not only is the “host” (using Ms Kendzior’s word for trump) despicably detached and autonomic about the current pandemic, he is apparently so lobotomized as to be able to shrug as if it were occurring in a manner of his prediction, and also of his indirect engineering and potential profit/winning.
Covering up malignant behaviour is only the surface aspect of the issue. Deeply embedded and endemic to the trump administration’s guiding approach is the destruction of everything the U.S. holds in honour, and now also the people whose lives are threatened.
And, just as from the impeachment trial, narrow and rifle-focussed and ineffective as it was, trump will walk away unscathed and even emboldened, as the American people suffer what is turning out to be the worse health/economic crisis of at least a century. And, right in the middle of its nefarious grip on millions, around the world, stands and trumpets “no responsibility” even for his direct impact in the insurgency.
Troubling masculine behaviour is only a tepid way to characterize this tragedy. Troubling and then covering up, scape-goating, and even gloating as thousands die is comparable to Joseph Goebbels.
In 2016 the film, A German Life, portrays the life of Goebbels secretary, Brunhilde Pomsel. In an interview at the time of the film’s release, Pomsel is quoted in The Guardian, ( Joseph Geobbels; 105-year-old secretary: ‘No one believes me now, but I knew nothing’ by Kate Connolly, August 15, 2016)…These are Pomel’s words from the Guardian:
Those people nowadays who say they would have stood up against the Nazis - I believe they are sincere in meaning that, but believe me, most of them wouldn’t have. (After the rise of the Nazi party, ‘the whole country was as if under a kind of a spell’ she insists. ‘I: could open myself up to the accusations that I wasn’t interested in politics but the truth is, the idealism of youth might easily have led to you having your neck broken.’
This is not to insinuate or imply that trump is doing what Geobbels did. What is at issue is the degree of scepticism, even cynicism and outright defiance (or lack) of a president whose attitudes, beliefs, actions and deceptions defy both integrity and credibility.
Referring all policy and public announcements to his forthcoming election, which trump declares the Democrats are determined to undermine by using COVID-19, is nothing more nor less than radioactive narcissism. And its radioactivity, like the lethal virus, cannot be contained, neutralized, or repressed, as it spreads its ugly ego across the globe and into our homes and lives.
Are we all not as frightened of those things we cannot and do not see, as we clearly are of those things we can see?