OK, so the country has been shut down for about a month, and we’re seeing cracks start to form. While some epidemiologists are talking about keeping things closed down for months longer, we’re also seeing growing public protests around the nation, as people call for restarting things.
Others shame them as “virus deniers” and accuse the protesters of wanting people to die. But it’s hard not to notice a class divide here. As with so many of America’s conflicts, the divide is between the people in the political/managerial class on the one hand and the people in the working class on the other. And as usual, the smugness and authoritarianism are pretty much all on one side.
Exemplified by a journalist’s self pity:
The divide is best summed up in a tweet by Brian Stelter of CNN, and a response. Stelter tweeted: “I crawled in bed and cried for our pre-pandemic lives. Tears that had been waiting a month to escape. I wanted to share because it feels free to do so. Now is not a time for faux-invincibility. Journos are living this, hating this, like everyone else.”
Some people mocked this as unmanly — and in fact, it’s hard to imagine hearing this from, say, a British journalist during The Blitz — but one response cut deep: “Such bravery. Let’s all take a moment to think about the journos working from home while millions have lost their jobs.”
Wow. Doesn’t narcissism thrive in the good, non-challenging times?
The pain is very unequal:
Likewise, in Los Angeles — where less than half the county is working now — radio journalist Steve Gregory asked the L.A. County Board of Supervisors whether any of them were willing to take voluntary pay cuts during this crisis. He was told by the chair that his question was “irresponsible,” which is to say embarrassing and inconvenient. (By contrast, New Zealand’s senior officials, including the prime Minister, are taking a 20% pay cut.)
There really are two Americas here: Those still getting a paycheck from government, corporations or universities, and those who are unemployed, or seeing their small businesses suffer due to shutdowns.
And the America still getting paid is, so far, not showing a whole lot of sympathy for the America that isn’t.
Read it all.