OPINION: Waving the white flag



“We’re not going to control the virus, because it is an infectious disease like the flu.” – Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows on CNN, Oct. 25

Joe Biden won the Nov. 3 presidential election, but Donald Trump is still president until 12:01 p.m. on Jan. 20, so it’s important to remember what Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the former radical right-wing U.S. representative from North Carolina, said recently about the COVID-19 coronavirus.

In so many words, Meadows waved the white flag of surrender against the virus, which has killed more than 234,000 of the more than 9.5 million U.S. citizens who’ve been infected.

Rather than urging the people of the U.S. to battle the pandemic, or helping them do so; rather than advocating and modeling measures we could take, such as social distancing, frequent hand-washing, sanitizing, temperature checks and wearing protective masks in public, Meadows said the Trump administration will give up and wait for a vaccine to hit the market — whenever that will occur.

That decision is a death sentence for more hundreds of thousands of people, and more misery, physically for the victims, emotionally for their loved ones, and economically for all of us.

And that’s Trump’s attitude: “It is what it is.” That’s been his position ever since he was first warned of the coronavirus, and grasped its “h-u-u-ge” — to use his own word — significance on Jan. 28. Because what did Trump do? He assumed a state of denial, pushing quack “cures,” predicting the virus would miraculously vanish, and repeatedly saying the U.S. was “turning the corner” against the virus. He covered up  and repeatedly lied.

To those of us of a certain age, this scenario sounds depressingly familiar. Anybody remember Gen. William Westmoreland? How about LBJ and the words “credibility gap?”

This is the same sort of denial and deception we saw with the Vietnam war.

We would win that war…if only President Johnson would give “Westy” more and more 18-year-old boys, most of them Black, brown or poor whites, to be maimed and killed in the jungles of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Don’t forget “Vietnamization” of the conflict.

We were winning, LBJ said, even though people could see with their own eyes that it was a lie. The 55,000 proofs of the lie’s cost are etched into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Trump’s attitude towards the fight against the virus is the same as Johnson’s towards the war. He knew the truth and covered it up. And he refused to face the facts. The difference between Trump and LBJ is that Meadows admitted it on national television.

For that matter, so did Trump, but on tape, in 18 talks with author Bob Woodward.

There will be one question, for us and for history, about this denial of duty, this white flag of surrender: What scene will be the coronavirus equivalent of the mad scramble in April 1975 when the last military helicopters departed from the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon?

(Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People’s World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), the union news service based in Washington, D.C.)


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