Op-ed: The American spirit is sick

Mason Dredge

“Listen to me. If we break quarantine, we could all die.”

These lines are spoken by Ellen Ripley in the film “Alien” after a fellow astronaut has been exposed to an extraterrestrial organism of unknown origin. Everyone else wants to bring him onto their ship to save his life, while Ripley urges them to follow protocol.

Guess what. They don’t listen to her. Guess what else. They all die.

And at this moment, something similar is happening. Thousands of Americans have written up clever little signs or grabbed their AR-15’ to storm state capitals, demanding that the social distancing measures put in place be lifted.

Taking a look at the pictures coming from these protests, it makes one feel like they’re living in a bad young adult novel. A woman proudly holding a sign that reads “give me liberty or give me death” while standing in front of a closed Baskin Robbins. I wasn’t around for the American revolutions, but I have a feeling that the founding fathers weren’t talking about waffle cones when they said that.

These people think they’re fighting the good fight. They think they’re battling some injustice. They think they’re being patriots. Economist Stephen Moore went as far as to call them the modern-day Rosa Parks.

Uh, what?

These protests are not just wrong, they’re not just misguided. They’re an affront to the most core American values.

These people do not understand the intense gravity of this point in human history. They don’t understand just how dangerous this virus is. No, it won’t (probably, knock on wood) end the world, but it will take an unbelievable amount of life. Actually, it already has. Over 42,000 Americans alone have died because of the virus. In just two months, that’s 2,000 more deaths than the three-year Korean War. It’s only 16,000 less than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. It’s 14 times the amount of people who died on 9/11.

This. Is. Serious.

But many Americans refuse to see this. Many of them still think it’s no worse than the flu. They think it won’t kill them. Some have gone as far as to infer that the potential loss of life will be worth the trade. Do you actually know how many people are 1,000 people? Have you ever been to a concert at the Sprint Center, or seen a football game on TV? Imagine all those people dead, and tell me again how oppressed you are because you can’t go to Buffalo Wild Wings with the boys. Sorry that your roots are showing or that you can’t cover up your grey streaks, but if we break quarantine, your whole body will be grey and also dead.

This epidemic of misinformation is in large part brought on by our chowderhead of a president, Donald Trump. I can call him that and retain journalistic integrity because this is an op-ed.

There will be countless films and books about this man’s total incompetence and mistreatment of the country during this pandemic in the years to come, so I won’t rail on him too much, but it would be impossible to try to diagnose this situation without putting him on blast for a least a paragraph.

Where do I even start? His total dismissal of the problem early on? His relinquishing of his executive duties and telling states just to figure it out? Publicly stating he only wants to help states that are nice to him? Constantly trying to shift the blame to China or the impeachment or the W.H.O.? Good gravy Donny.

His response to the protests is unsurprisingly stupid. He praises them, as long as they’re in states with Democratic governors, even though the demands they’re making are in direct conflict with the three-phase re-opening procedures he unveiled literally last week. But it’s fine; did we really think he’d read them?

Trump is an exaggerated personification of all the negative aspects of the American spirit. The most infuriating, most painful aspect of these protests is that they are yet more proof of warping of American values, exposing a core that is as petulant as it is rotten.

All these people have to do is sit at home and relax. That is their moral obligation. You know what other generations had to do for the greater good? They fought wars. They died.

Which is what these protests are asking to do. They are demanding their lives and the lives of their children, their parents and their friends be put at totally avoidable risk because they want to go see a movie.

It is unbelievably short-sighted and selfish. It is the definition of un-American. As a nation, we like to see ourselves as tough spirited, the people who can make the hard choices. We’ve done this time and time again in the past, but modern-day America, ravaged by ignorance and cannibalized by a wicked bi-partisan political system, is unable to make the sacrifice.

And it breaks my heart to see this. Americans make sacrifices. Americans endure.

It is my deepest hope, as someone lucky enough to be born in this place that has so much potential for beauty, that we rediscover that.

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