So is Dr. Oz who suggested that school children are expendable. And so is the Las Vegas mayor who offered to open her city and use its workers as guinea pigs. And so was Dr. Phil, the Fox News commentators, and the Indiana legislator who suggested that people should be willing to die for this economy. At the core, they are right: orthodox capitalism requires a sacrifice—your sacrifice. It requires you to die.
The right-wing religious fanatics, pro-gun fanatics, hardcore racists, libertarians, and hardcore Trump supporters who protested state lockdowns around the country last week are on to something.
And it is important to know that the capitalist requires you and only you and not any one of their class to die.
The apparently confused protestors are not as confused as folks would have us believe. They are indeed acting irrationally in the face of a deadly disease, but their protest has a rationale: they want this system to survive come hell or high water. For many, they choose to risk death than face financial ruin.
Others see being unemployed and broke as a fate worse than death, so they are willing to risk their lives—and unfortunately yours—to work. Notice those demanding the ability to go to work were not demanding a livable wage, sick time, paid time off, or health benefits.
They make no demands on the system because, strangely, they cherish a system that has treated them so poorly.
The White supremacist rationale for wanting the system to survive is so that they can proudly brag that they live in a White nation. For them, that is something for which they are willing to die. From their perspective, it is worth risking their lives to stop a shutdown, even if it will kill the elderly, the young, and the vulnerable.
And if the coronavirus continues to ravage the nation, the racists will get a bonus because it will continue to kill Black and Brown people in disproportionate numbers.
In fact, Black folks ought to be careful about continually trumpeting their vulnerability to COVID-19 brought about by their high rates of obesity, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, heart disease and asthma. It has already given our enemy ideas, as hateful and diabolical Whites have already been plotting ways to use the coronavirus as a biological weapon.
And despite most of the right-wingers’ insistence on the rights of the unborn to live, they put little effort into the causes that aid children’s education health or welfare. Because at heart, the pro-life movement is not about protecting the unborn, but trying to tell other people what to think, how to live, and what to do. It is a purely ideological movement not borne out of human concern or empathy as they pretend.
Notice that the quack calling himself Dr. Oz was willing to sacrifice school children. That is consistent with the world view of the capitalists, they have no problem sacrificing children because they are not worth much to them until they are old enough to work.
And as we well know there are not enough jobs to go around employment even in the best of times is almost always near 10 percent especially if by employment we mean a job that is 30 hours and pays at least $12 an hour which is far short of a living wage.
Despite the fight for $15 that is still not a living wage. In Minneapolis, the capitalists that run Target are already looking to take advantage of the expanded market they were advertising jobs at $12 while offering their present workers a bonus after making record profits.
Ultimately, the right-wingers took to the streets to defend the “American Way” which is defined by racism, sexism, patriarchy, xenophobia, islamophobia, and the right to exploit working people and consumers. They were willing to sacrifice their lives so we can pay overpriced tickets to see the next “Avengers” movie, the next sporting event, the next concert.
They were putting their lives on the line to guarantee the mortgage holders and landlords get their next payment. This is what the right-wingers screaming in the streets are really supporting.
Consequently, the well-paid mainstream media agreed with them, which is why they made a point of blowing up these backward protests across the country, making them seem larger and more significant than they were—they only numbered several thousand in a nation of hundreds of millions.
Yes, Anderson Cooper shook his head at the lunatic that is the mayor of Las Vegas, but while he and his network may not support her extreme suggestion to blatantly sacrifice workers, they too have a love for this system. It is why the so-called liberal media—which is really moderate—has no suggestions for an organized way the country can survive COVID-19.
Notice that they spend most of their time looking backward and playing “gotcha” pointing out Trump’s errors and lies than trying to find a way forward.
It is good that the saner among us have applauded the efforts of the nurses and medical personnel on the front lines of this pandemic. It is good that we pay tribute to the grocery store workers, cashiers and warehouse personnel, Amazon workers, transit workers, and mail carriers, delivery people, and many who have literally given their lives for us and this economy. They are real heroes.
But it is not enough to celebrate them! We, like the right-wingers, should decide what gives life meaning. We should make sure that those who have died so that we can live, did not die in vain. We should not run out in the streets risking our lives and others in the middle of this pandemic.
But when this pandemic clears up—unfortunately, lots more of us will be sacrificed by the indifference of this system before it is over—we, like the right-wingers, should be willing to sacrifice our time, our energy, our resources and if need be, our very wellbeing, so that this never happens again.
We should start on May 1, the original workers’ day, and stay home. And after this pandemic, we should take to the streets, the byways the highways in every gathering place in this country and demand everything we want that would make life worth living in this miserable place and refuse to stop until our dead have been appeased and our demands are met.
Justice, then peace.
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.