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Of shaking hands, drunks and babies, and 17,700 cases of hand sanitizer (Humanity part II?)

The stupidity of Donald Trump citing the coronavirus as a Democratic hoax can never be forgiven, for it was his unwillingness to recognize the scourge for what it is that left America painfully lagging in its ability to confront the problem. Even worse, the people who follow him blindly went about their daily lives as if there were no coronavirus and endangered themselves and everyone with whom they came in contact. Add Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and a passel of other idiots to the guilty list.

We’ll catch up—America always does. But people have died, and more people will die—a direct result of all the happy talk.

Trump admitted that he wanted to keep the numbers down, not out of any humanitarian principles, but because the numbers would drive down the markets and at the same time drive away his voters. Only over the past few days has Trump grudgingly admitted we have a crisis. Then, after taking one more swipe at President Obama and getting all the facts about Obama’s crisis management wrong, he declared an emergency.

His advocates and followers who slough it off as just Trump being Trump really ought to examine their expectations of what a human being should be and how that human being accepts his responsibility as a societal member. Trump was found not to have the virus, but before he knew that—and after he knew he had had close contact with other victims, he continued to chum around with people, shaking hands and gathering large groups together. They say God watches over drunks, babies, and fools. That’s reassuring, but does He also watch over the people infected by fools?

Admittedly Trump is not alone here in making a mess of this virus. The Chinese government soft-pedaled the outbreak for its own reasons, not wanting to show the world any kind of weakness. By the time those authorities went whole hog at the problem, restricting movement and building hospitals virtually overnight, thousands had died. But when Chinese did move, the draconian measures seemed to work. (Some claim the cycle had simply played itself out. We’ll see.)

In Italy, a press leak warned the citizens of northern Italy that a lockdown was ahead, so they boarded every conceivable method of transportation and went to southern Italy, growing the virus exponentially. Now the entire nation of Italy is in essence quarantined. It would not have been that way had the northern Italians done the humanitarian thing and remained where they were. To paraphrase a correspondent from another disaster “Oh, the humanity!–Where is it!”

I know where it’s not. There's a Tennessee man “stuck” with 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer. If you saw the product on Amazon going for ten times its value, it was probably being sold by one Matt Colvin. (He also has respirator masks if you're interested in breathing.) He’s “stuck” with all of it because Amazon and eBay suspended his permissions to sell on their sites. Wartime has always produced its collection of profiteers, and Trump would probably admire the Colvins’ (he and his brother collaborated) business acumen, but even the monolithic and pitiless Amazon apparently has a tipping point.

This country has always risen to the occasion, but we live in a different America now. We may get past this, but I hope we'll be better for having done so, rather than make the Colvins and people like them our new exemplars.

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