Corona, Corona 4

A close relative, in a comment "by the way,"  hoped I was taking COVID seriously, since the problem was becoming acute in her part of California.  It was a reasonable remark, and I responded:

I take all potentially fatal diseases seriously, but the media are as usual lying to the public almost as badly as the Chinese government has been lying.  Looking at at the Italian situation—far more drastic than here in the States—99% of the people dying have been old—average age 79 years nine months—and with underlying conditions, cardiac, respiratory, diabetic. Telling athletic young people to fear death is grossly irresponsible, and so is shutting down the entire country for the sake of people our age is punishing the young, healthy, productive people with lives ahead of them, for the sake of protecting people who have lived a full life and could be quarantined for their own good.  I don’t at all mind staying home—though I wish I were staying home in Rome.  The weather here has been miserable—highs in the mid 30’s to low 40’s—and we can’t go much outside.  Today finally it will be in the 50’s.

Yes, travel especially to Asia was a real factor in the beginning, and Trump did the right thing instituting a travel ban to countries affected seriously.  We had planned a trip to Greece in the Winter but Gail’s operation loused that up and so we had decided to go to Italy in April.   Funny, no?   It will be interesting to find out what happens at the end of this melodrama. Every year influenza kills from 10-50,000 Americans, but we’ve never shut down the country.  Every year about 50,000 diabetics die and another 50,000 people with kidney problems. Many people in both of which groups could have been kept alive if we banned softdrinks and fastfood.  Over a hundred thousand die in accidents, most of which could be prevented by banning automobiles.  And of course there are all the deaths attributed to STD’s—ban sex—and the high suicide rate among transsexuals—ban homosexuality and sex change operations which, by the way, damage the immune system and make one serious at risk for this virus .  

Americans used to be described as risk-takers—our frontiersmen, entrepreneurs, scientists—but now we are risk-averse in the extreme.  The conversations and emails etc I’ve had with people under 50 are genuinely scary.  It is indeed frightening that I live in a country of hysterical kids who are as ignorant of science as they are of history and literature.  It’s bad enough we have to live with them, but they vote, which explains why we have people like Bill de Blasio and Gavin Newsome in positions of responsibility, though the tough old Mafioso Andrew Cuomo is showing some Sicilian grit, I am happy to observe.  Old people in Italy are dying like flies, but Italians are still pretty upbeat.  I know this from the news but also from corresponding with Italian friends.  You can’t keep them down, God bless them.  

The true remedy for fear is not recklessness but sanity and a capacity for enjoying the little things in everyday life.  Lastnight was Gail’s birthday.  We had champagne with a little caviar, then I grilled some nice lambchops.  We had a pretty good bottle of Tuscan red wine and afterwards we watched a 40’s movie with Myrna Loy and Cary Grant.  We’d seen it twice over the past twenty years, but it was even better this time.  We read good books, practice our Italian, listen to Haydn and Mozart and, when the weather warms up a bit, take a walk and watch the birds at the feeder.  Little things.

A clergyman friend texted me to see how we were doing and added that his brother had told him a joke:

"Turn on the radio news, and every time you hear the word 'unprecedented,' you have to take a drink.  You'll be 'coked' within an hour."

After a few more text exchanges, I wrote:

This is a bonanza for all "the powers-that-be" in government, the media, and the sob-sister bureaucracy of the UN.  It's a familiar technique being raised to new heights by way of the internet and television.  First, strike terror into the hearts--they have no minds--of the servile mob.  Then convince them that only by magnifying existing powers and assets of government and adding emergency powers "for the duration" can save them from the things that go bump in the night.  Wars are great, and so are hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and pestilences.  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are drafted into service for FEMA.  Everyone in the press and the media piles on, because even "conservative" journalists can see that their audience grows with every new panic, even if Sean or Mark is telling them--wink wink--"Don't Panic."

Everybody wins except for normal hard-working Christians who understand the difference between fewer than a thousand sick old people dead from the virus and a million plus babies who are murdered each year, year after year after year, the numbers ticking off like a real Doomsday Clock.  My goodness, the mob cries out, "People (aged 79 years and nine month is the Italian average) are dying.  "We must do something."  All life stops for the healthy and productive with lives to lead in order to protect some number of people my age.    We Boomers really are special people after all.


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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

10 Responses

  1. Allen Wilson says:

    The president of Mexico seems to be the only leader in the world who has shown some sense and honesty and resisted the hysteria mongering, at least until late march. Of course that may have changed by now:

  2. Vince Cornell says:

    So wonderful to be able to visit this oasis in the vast wasteland of hysteria. The supermarket is STILL completely sold out of bacon, sausage, toilet paper, flour, bread, and other items (I was pleased to see that the ABC store was still well stocked). I asked the cashier if they restocked these items and folks just ran in and bought them all up again, and she said that was the case and even she, an employee, hadn’t been able to buy a pack of toilet paper from the store yet. And we’ve had zero confirmed cases in the entire county, and only a grand total of 8 in the two neighboring counties. Insanity! I wish the stores would stop the panicked sheep by making anyone buying more than a pack of toilet paper pay a 1000% surcharge for the 2nd pack and above. Meanwhile, Congress weasels hide the details of the bailout bill from public scrutiny – but surely everything in it is to help combat this crisis – right?

  3. Laura Brickman says:

    Tom, I had to laugh outload regardng your comments about banning automobiles, sex, maybe you should have added
    some marriages, well you did gay marriage I thnk. Seriously,
    I agree with many over reactions you cited; however no other
    Flu has sent young and old into EMERGENCY HOSPITAL ROOMS
    and makeshift tent hospital facilities at this great a number.
    Time will tell how this plays out, and hope prince Charles does
    not joke about shaking hands any longer… Laura

  4. Dot says:

    In this digital age we live in, I have wondered if people have turned in on themselves and think of no other. The meat and deli department was completely empty and so wasn’t the entire frozen vegetable department. The supermarket puts limits on certain products but I have come to believe that multiple members of a family buy products separately and in this way stock up on food and other necessities thus causing shortages in the supermarkets and for other shoppers. If this continues we will be eating dog and cat food.

  5. Sam Dickson says:

    Happy birthday to Gail! Happy birthday to Gail!

    Regardless of whether the virus is hyped or not, at this point the Fan Club want Gail and Tom in LOCK DOWN!

  6. Kellen Buckles says:

    The last available statistic from the CDC about influenza deaths shows 61,000 dying during the 2017-2018 flu season. No panic that year.

    Swine flu (H1N1) in 2009 was labeled a pandemic and many health experts were pushing for drastic measures but were ignored by Pres. Obama and the MSM. Finally, in October Obama declared a limited national emergency. Still no panic. That season was one of the lower influenza tolls.

  7. Roger McGrath says:

    Tom’s absolutely right about the media-generated hysteria for a flu that thus far that is nasty but not taking a great number of lives, yet every death is reported as if we are in the grips of the bubonic plague. For a far, far more deadly flu try the Spanish flu, 1918-19, which took 675,000 Americans, equivalent to 2 million Americans today.

    Happy 39th to Gail. Sounds like a perfect evening to me, especially those grilled lamb chops. I can think of two movies Myrna Loy and Cary Grant did together in the 40s. Myrna Loy was a Montana girl but came to L.A. after her father died in the Spanish flu epidemic!

  8. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Roger, young Gail appreciates your good wishes. The film was “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer”.

  9. Steven Lakoff says:

    I don’t worry much about myself, except for the unlikely event that I need to go to the emergency room, a visit which would wipe my uninsured self out financially. I DO worry about my mother, who I have been taking care of for ten years now. She is a few weeks from 97 with some heart and lung issues. I am with her almost 24 hours a day so it isn’t just about me. On the other hand, neither of us has had a flu shot in over ten years and neither of us has gotten sick in that time. Simple caution has kept us both healthy all this time.

  10. Vince Cornell says:

    The governor of Virginia (ole blackface Northam) just issues his executive order that closes everything, especially religious gatherings, until well after Easter. It seems like he’s joining the other misanthropic, Trump hating mayors and governors intentionally issuing “cower in place” orders through Easter just to spite Trump who dared to hope we might go back to church for Easter as well as those deplorable Christians that voted for Trump. Meanwhile, toilet paper is back in stock at the Costco with armed guards and multiple snipers watching over it. It’s like living in a Waugh novel. Or maybe the American version of Wodehouse. Orwell’s vision of the future completely missed the boat – it wasn’t nearly as bizarre or as unintentionally funny as it turned out to be.