By “pro-life” I’m not talking about the political movement but the capital-L American value that is enshrined, along with Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, in “The Declaration of Independence.”
Yes, there are glaring inconsistencies—too many to list—which run antithetical to both a pro-life society and a political movement, policies and systems which negatively impact Americans’ quality of Life. But most Americans would not willingly endanger someone else’s life.
During a worldwide pandemic, millions of Americans refuse to wear masks—despite incontrovertible evidence it saves lives.
HOW did we become pro-death?
We succumbed to propaganda. Before you stop reading, understand that none of us is impervious. (And by “we,” I don’t mean those following masking guidelines.) Propaganda is biased language designed to persuade us to buy products, vote for politicians, etc. But when coronavirus began to impact the U.S., a multi-faceted disinformation campaign rose to meet it.
It started with leadership and was amplified by illegitimate news media.
In late February, the leader of our country began comparing Covid-19 to the flu—and would continue to do so—and postulated that the press was in hysteria mode and the virus was the Democrats’ new hoax. By downplaying the virus’s severity, discrediting legitimate news sources, and spawning yet another partisan issue, the groundwork was laid for citizenry to resist mitigation efforts.
Over the coming months, consumers of right-wing media heard talk-radio and Fox pundits asserting that coronavirus was no worse than the flu; that mainstream news, government leaders, and the public were overreacting; and that Democrats were using it to undermine the Trump administration.
Right-wing print publications proposed we should let the virus spread and kill off the weak. Overtly pro-death messaging came when Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick suggested during a Fox interview that seniors might be willing to die of Covid-19 to save the economy.
I went to bed distressed—woke up distressed: How could someone think senior citizens are disposable? But this moral equivalency—save seniors or the economy—gained traction with the President and his human megaphones, and thus ageism was sanctified.
As governors instituted mask and shutdown mandates, conservative publications fomented dissent with their wolf cry that constitutional rights were under attack—despite government’s constitutional obligation to protect public health—and encouraged resistance. Trump, right-wing commentators, and alleged foreign-nation social-media troll bots (fake accounts) amplified the message, along with conspiracy theories and dubious cures.
Mask wearers became targets, with Rush Limbaugh claiming that public health officials and Democrats were wearing masks as symbols of fear and Republican lawmakers and commentators asserting that mask wearers are weak.
Unfortunately, the weak included the disabled and those with underlying conditions (around 22% of the global population), who could also be sacrificed on the economic altar. And thus ableism was sanctified.
With illegitimate news outlets’ use of common propaganda techniques, like “repetition over time” and “demonize the enemy” (meaning legitimate news outlets, Democrats, and mask wearers—not the virus), pro-death indoctrination was inevitable. An attendee of Trump’s Tulsa rally epitomized the efficacy, saying, “I have absolutely no concern, whatsoever.” When asked about the wisdom of a non-social-distancing rally, Pence (a pious Christian) answered, “Even in a health crisis, the American people don't forfeit our constitutional rights", further crystallizing yet another moral equivalency:
The right to live free of a mask mandate doesn’t equate to the right
to live free of contracting a deadly virus.
Concurrently, legitimate news outlets—meaning those with ethical standards for accuracy—reported that coronavirus was more contagious and deadly than the flu; that it could ravage organs and cause long-term damage; that complacency would overwhelm the healthcare system; and that men and people of color were disproportionately affected.
They also reported that countries with universal mask-wearing early in the pandemic successfully squashed the virus and minimized the death toll—without shutting down economies. In response, UK’s Royal Society suggested universal messaging, like “My mask protects you, your mask protects me”; the U.S. never established national messaging. So, cavalier anti-maskers went into public breathing all over healthcare and other essential workers—many who were people of color or low-income and had no choice but to be there—sanctifying racism and classism.
HOW did dangerous propaganda gain traction?
Failure of the FCC to require accuracy from news outlets. The elimination of the Fairness Doctrine which required balanced media coverage. Unchecked social-media platforms. Lack of federal leadership.
The result is catastrophic: 155,000+ dead Americans that many of us thought were expendable.
But WHY did we become pro-death, change our core values—devalue human life?
Were we politically motivated? Inconvenienced? Selfish?
It’s not as if the U.S. faced ethical decisions, like Italy’s physicians who weighed which patients should get life-saving treatments when there were limited resources—because that’s largely preventable, starting with a small sacrifice: Wear a mask. But also recognize that we are not immune to propaganda, any more than Germans in the 30s or Rwandan Hutus in the 90s. Americans bristle at these comparisons: We aren’t barbarians. We’ve learned from history. We would have said NO. We’re Americans.
But here is the thread of similarity: It starts when people lose their sense of the sacredness of human life—and decide that another is disposable.
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