There are a couple of items popping up in our new Coronavirus-World that should garner attention, thought, and reflection from responsible citizens. One is the recent responses to the crisis from: (a) the President, (b) the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, and, finally, (c) the pastor who leads a “Bible Study” group in the White House each week. Another item worth our attention has to do with how folks are dealing with “homeschooling,” which is now mandatory in numerous states. Finally, we probably should take a look at how “responsible” the media is being (or not) during the crisis.
#1. Here’s What They’re Saying
Many of us may have heard what the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, said several days ago. If not, here’s the quote:
No one reached out to me and said, “As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?” And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.
The concern that prompted Lt. Gov. Patrick’s comment was connected to the President’s comment that the “cure shouldn’t be worse than the disease” (or something like that) --- meaning the blow to our economy would be far worse than losing a million or so citizens, particularly if they are “seniors.” Recognizing that the economy is going to be devastated in a number of ways (and ignoring that we’ve been living on a “borrowed time” economic sugar high for the past decade) what Lt.Gov. Patrick and the President seem to be suggesting is that, somehow (miraculously?) we can steer this virus to only infect “Seniors” and the rest of the nation will be able to “get back to work.” If we “re-open” our business-as-usual economy too soon the results will be catastrophic, a fact that seems lost on Patrick and Trump, who care more about the Dow than individual lives that will be lost.
In a related note, the President seemed to condition Federal aid to States based on how he believes each Governor “treats” him. As noted by Rosie Perper in the March 25, 2020 Business Insider :
· President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that the federal government would give aid to governors battling the coronavirus outbreak if they "treat us well also."
· "It's a two-way street," Trump said of his discussions with governors about providing their states with federal aid.
Apparently it doesn’t matter if a State is facing a dire situation battling the pandemic. Each State’s Governor must kowtow to “Dear Leader” in order to (possibly) receive ventilators, Personal Protective Equipment, or cotton swabs for testing. What, exactly, is the “two-way street” Trump is referring to? Governors who have declared a State of Emergency must also say “nice things” about Trump if they hope to receive life-saving materials? (And, btw, isn’t that a “quid pro quo?”)
And, finally, the Pastor who leads a weekly “Bible Study” group at the White House, Ralph Drollinger, has made some interesting comments regarding the coronavirus outbreak. According to NBC News’s Brooke Sopelsa in a March 25th story:
In a blog post titled “Is God Judging America Today?” a pastor who leads a weekly bible study group for members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet appeared to blame the coronavirus pandemic on several groups, including those who have “a proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.”
America “is experiencing the consequential wrath of God,” the Rev. Ralph Drollinger wrote on his Capitol Ministries blog on March 21.
In addition to gays and lesbians, Drollinger — who The New York Times recently referred to as the Trump Cabinet's “shadow diplomat” — also laid blame on people with “depraved minds,” environmentalists and those who deny the existence of God for igniting "God's wrath."
Attendees at Drollinger's Wednesday morning Bible lessons, according to The Intercept, which was the first to report on Drollinger’s coronavirus remarks, include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, House and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Health Secretary Alex Azar, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force.
I’m sure you find it comforting, as I do, that 4 high-ranking Cabinet members are “studying” with someone who is attributing a worldwide viral pandemic to the “wrath of God.” While White House spokesperson Judd Deere denounced Drollinger’s remarks as “disgusting,” none of the Cabinet members --- or anyone else at the White House --- commented on Drollinger’s statements.
One of the consequences of sequestering much of our population is that “school” cannot go on “as usual.” Countless teachers nationwide have quickly and efficiently geared up an extensive “remote learning” network to try to keep their students progressing academically, but that is no easy proposition. Since many (if not most) Parents are also home with their kids, they (the parents) have become the de facto teachers for their kids.
When I was a classroom teacher talking to parents I knew (who invariably had a student I liked for some reason or another) I would joke about “Yeah, imagine dealing with your kid and 20 of his/her friends all together for 50 minutes every day.” (Without mentioning how most teachers have to do that FIVE times a day!) They would usually laugh and shake their heads, knowing they would never have to do that --- they had made wiser choices than becoming public school teachers. The current crisis has thrust many parents into the situation of, at the very least, monitoring their child’s (children’s) education for the foreseeable future. Two items regarding this situation caught my attention over the past few days and I feel compelled to share them. One was reported in the New York Daily News (March 17th, reported by Joseph Wilkinson) and concerns an Instagram posted by Shonda Rhimes (the creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal”).
: Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.
As a teacher (or former teacher), you have to appreciate Ms. Rhimes statement. Maybe an unintended consequence of all this “sheltering-in-place” will be an increased respect for the teaching profession.
Similarly, on Friday, March 20th, Emma Brockes wrote this in The Guardian:
Like salesmanship and writing, teaching is one of those things a lot of people sneakily think they could probably do if they had the time. When the New York school system shut down on Monday, I went into this new period of quarantine fully nursing this delusion.
Going into this period I already loved my girls’ teachers, but along with a lot of other parents in New York this week, trying to teach my own kids has filled me with an unparalleled sense of amazement. How on earth, in a single kindergarten year, had they got them reading and writing and counting and sitting quietly – and that’s in a class with 20 other kids? I have two and by midweek was exhausted and screaming.
I appreciate Brockes’s comment (it mirrors the comment I used to make to parents, of course) and only hope that more people genuinely appreciate what teachers do, day-in and day-out --- and better understand that (most) people don’t get into teaching for all the “time off” (which you desperately need!) and “benefits” (which you also need, given the paucity of your salary). Most teachers get into the profession because they genuinely like kids and, more importantly, want to make a difference in the lives of those students.
#3. Finally . . . the Media ….
I’m not sure 24/7 news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic is a great idea --- particularly if people end up sitting in front of their television (or whatever screen) for hours hearing dreadful news over and over. Worse, though, is the insistence on covering the daily “Coronavirus Briefing from the White House.” Given Trump’s proclivity to LIE and submit to his bizarre brand of magical thinking (“packed churches on Easter Sunday”) should we really be subjected to this? If you are still, somehow, watching this circus each day: STOP IT! The networks should tape it and then edit it for later airing with only truthful, informative necessary information. My suggestion: find as much Streaming and On-Demand content as you can and watch it! Catch up on things you may have missed (I’m really glad I never watched an episode of Mad Men or Breaking Bad --- now I can binge them!).
Stay safe. Wash your hands. Socially distance. We’ll get through this.