That Other America

What’s the narrative? What’s the zeitgeist – the fancy German word people use – “time ghost” – the spirit or soul of the times, these times? Ask the question, and one answer will be that people are fed up with doctors and science and with being told what to do. They don’t want to wear masks. They don’t want to be vaccinated, or maybe they do, but they want be forced to be vaccinated, or even be told to get vaccinated. They don’t even want to hear a suggestion about that. And they think that’s the zeitgeist. Imagine an uprising. A boycott. Imagine if all Americans refused to fly on any airline that mandates that its employees be vaccinated and that their passengers be vaccinated too. Imagine the same for the cruise lines. And imagine if all Americans refused to patronize any business of any kind that require its employees and its customers or patrons to wear masks. That would end this nonsense. Everyone is fed up. All they need to do is refuse to play this silly game. And imagine if all Americans simply walked away from anyone wearing a mask anywhere. Shun them. No one would talk to them. That too would end this nonsense. And shun anyone who admits to having been vaccinated – family, friends – anyone. They’ve ruined their bodies and are dangerous now. Who knows what they’re shedding? Make them the new lepers. It’s time for all Americans to rise up as one. Enough is enough.

That may be misjudging the spirit of the times. Most people are fine with the current vaccines. Masks are no problem either. Both seem to work. This is a matter of keeping safe and keeping others safe. And there’s no real burden here. What’s the big deal? They’re not buying that other narrative of oppression. And they outnumber those who long for an uprising three or four to one. And there are no airlines or cruise lines or any other major or minor business anywhere that doesn’t require its employees be vaccinated and may soon require its in-person customers be vaccinated too. But masks may do for now. They’re selling safety. No one need fear doing business with them. This is the new norm, in one America:

But there is the other America:

Kyrie Irving was neither seen nor heard at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener on Sunday, but the effects of his decision to refuse to get vaccinated were on full display.

Ahead of the game, a large group of vaccine mandate protesters appeared outside the Barclays Center, demanding Irving be allowed to play NBA games again. Even though he is barred from only Nets home games due to New York protocols, the Nets have announced Irving will not play until the situation is resolved.

Wearing shirts reading slogans such as “Stand with Kyrie” and chanting “Let Kyrie play,” the crowd soon turned aggressive and stormed past the barricades outside the arena.

Irving is about the only unvaccinated league basketball player, the only one making this a big deal, and his explanations of his position have been rather vague, but now he’s a hero, a hero to the vastly outnumbered:

Newsday’s Barbara Barker reported the group included supporters of President Donald Trump and people with Black Lives Matter signs, while another source claimed to hear a reference to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

The situation was ugly enough that the Nets shut down admission into the Barclays Center while trying to keep protesters out of the building, per Barker. The lockdown was ultimately brief, with Newsday’s Greg Logan reporting minutes later that arena personnel and police got the situation under control and fans with tickets were being admitted again.

These were a few jerks. And his teammates seem to see Irving as a brilliant basketball player and a bit of a jerk, and hope this gets sorted out soon, but that seems unlikely now:

As the situation of his vaccine refusal has escalated, Irving has become a figure around which anti-vaccine mandate voices have rallied, garnering shows of support from several conservative figureheads, including Senator U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr.

Current New York vaccine statutes require home players to be vaccinated to get on the court, which led to Irving missing the Nets’ media day and preseason games. The Nets found a loophole so he could practice, but the team eventually decided it didn’t want Irving playing if he was limited to only road games. It has also held off on any talks regarding a potential $186 million extension for the star point guard.

He could lose a lot of money, but he has Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. on his side. Irving has said that he is not anti-vaccine and merely trying to be a “voice for the voiceless” – but he said little about what the problem is with these vaccines. They might be dangerous? The man is not terribly coherent. But he was useful to a certain crowd.

And then there’s the country music crowd:

During a week in which he announced the cancellation of four concerts at venues with coronavirus safety protocols, country artist Travis Tritt reiterated on Tuesday night to Fox News host Tucker Carlson how he was “putting my money where my mouth is” by not playing at places requiring vaccination, masks or negative coronavirus tests.

That’s his boycott:

The musician, who has said that promoters and venues requiring covid safety measures were “discriminating” against concertgoers, told Billboard this week that he was pulling out of shows in Muncie, Ind.; Philadelphia, Miss.; Peoria, Ill.; and Louisville, becoming the latest performer to speak out against vaccination or masking rules. Tritt, 58, who said he still plans to perform at venues without guidelines, noted that the decision was made after some fans reached out to him when they were turned away from buildings because they were not vaccinated or did not have a negative test.

“This is trying to divide people,” he told Carlson. “This is trying to shame people. This is trying to basically discriminate against people they don’t feel are clean enough to be a part of enjoying a concert like that.”

But there are now few if any venues without guidelines left for him to play. They too are selling safety. He is losing gigs. But he’s got that noble-martyr thing going for him:

Since the Monday announcement, Tritt has been praised on social media by conservatives who’ve opposed safety mandates implemented by businesses and lawmakers to help curb the spread of the virus. Carlson was among the supporters Tuesday night commending Tritt for being “willing to lose money” based on his stance.

“You are a credit to country music,” Carlson told Tritt, who appeared above a chyron reading, “Top Country Star Tackles Evil Coronavirus Mandates.”

But he’s fighting a losing battle:

Tritt’s dismissal of safety measures at venues comes as live music has returned to venues worldwide, with many buildings requiring vaccination, masking or other protocols to keep the industry from shutting down again. In the United States, artists such as the Foo Fighters and Bruce Springsteen have put on concerts and Broadway shows, respectively, in which audience members were required to show proof of vaccination. In the D.C. area, nearly every major concert venue is requiring proof of vaccination or negative test results, including outdoor ones.

Yes, that makes things tricky:

While many performers have abided by the venues’ protocols, some have vowed not to play at places with mandates.

Eric Clapton was one of the first major artists to rebuke a safety precaution being used for the return of live music when he announced over the summer that he would not perform at venues that require proof of coronavirus vaccination for people to attend. Clapton went back on that promise last month when he played a show at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Following the city’s mandate, all staff and attendees older than 12 were required to show proof that they were at least partially vaccinated or had a negative coronavirus test taken in the past 72 hours. A review of the concert in the Times-Picayune noted how “the test result loophole apparently allowed Clapton to, in good conscience, perform at the Smoothie King Center.”

Eric Clapton found his loophole, but Tritt is another matter:

It is not the first time Tritt has attracted controversy. A two-time Grammy Award winner in the ‘90s, Tritt has made it a habit of blocking many on Twitter who support the Black Lives Matter movement and oppose former president Donald Trump, in an effort, he said, to slow down anti-conservative sentiment on the platform.

On Monday, Tritt doubled down on his previous comments regarding mandates and said in a statement posted to his website that “pushing Covid testing protocols on my fans will not be tolerated.” The artist told Billboard that he is “not against the vaccine” but is “against forcing people to take medicine that they may not need and may not want.”

“Any show I have booked that discriminates against concertgoers by requiring proof of vaccination, a Covid test, or a mask is being canceled immediately,” he said.

He may be putting himself out of business, except as a Fox News hero:

As his name has trended on Twitter for days, Tritt told Carlson that the move to play in venues without mandates was for the fans who “have been shut out from getting a chance to go see a concert for over a year.”

“They are being turned away for some unexplained reason,” Tritt said Tuesday night, “so this is not about following the science or trying to look out for the safety of the people there.”

This was the usual. There’s no science at all behind the vaccines. There’s some other unexplained reason. Maybe it’s George Soros. Or maybe he’s the one being a jerk here:

He found support among fans who believed Tritt was “standing against those who want to take away our freedom,” but some supporters and critics alike thought he had gone too far. A headline in Rolling Stone reads, “Thanks, Travis Tritt, for Accidentally Saving Lives with Your Dumb Covid Policy.” Some fans indicated they would never attend one of his shows, while others expressed their disappointment in Tritt.

“Love ya Travis, but am sad you refuse to be part of the solution to end this plague,” one fan tweeted. “I grew up in a household with parents and grandparents who were asked to do a lot more than this for the sake of their neighbors and the United States.”

Travis Tritt may have misread the zeitgeist, and Eric Clapton has a long history odd conspiracy rants and pure racist comments – mostly British White Nationalist stuff. But this issue is American. And there’s trouble at Fox News:

After battling Covid-19, Fox News host Neil Cavuto returned to the airwaves on Sunday, where he spoke in favor of vaccine mandates.

“I know it’s going to get me in trouble,” Cavuto told Fox News host Howard Kurtz. “I hear from a lot of people. I’ve gotten a lot of nasty emails. The same ones: you’re a never-Trumper, you’re this, we don’t trust you, we don’t believe a word you’re saying. And that’s just coming from my family.”

“But having said that, I just want to stress here this is not really about me,” he continued. “It’s not about people’s political positions on this. I get that. No one likes to be ordered to get a vaccine. But I can tell you right now, those who have been vaccinated are in a far better position right now to survive this and even handle cases where they come down with this. The numbers prove it.”

It seems that Fox’s Tucker Carlson fans have threatened to kill Fox’s Neil Cavuto and his family. He shrugged at that, because Fox News itself had done the right thing:

Cavuto went on to recommend that other organizations adopt the type of vaccine mandate that is in place at Fox News.

“Maybe there’s a call for a protocol much like the one that Fox has where you sort of share your vaccine status,” he explained. “If you choose not to get vaccinated, you get regular tests so that you are not a threat to spread this to the workforce.”

Safety matters more than freedom? Perhaps so:

The Fox News host also addressed people who oppose vaccine mandates.

“I get that,” he remarked. “I want to stress that I appreciate that. Look, I have a problem with people telling me what to do. Back in college, I had a problem with bouncers. That’s a separate story.”

“But for God’s sake, think of the bigger picture here,” Cavuto added. “Get outside yourself and think about those you work with, think about those around you. Think about just keeping them safe.”

“Would it kill you to at least look at those all around you?” he pleaded. “I get where you’re coming from on this idea of mandates but get a protocol down that satisfies this. So that we’re all safe.”

That’s the general idea:

Cavuto concluded by insisting that he does not feel unlucky despite his health problems.

“It does make me a changed person,” he said. “I don’t look at things through a political spectrum. Down to all my shows. I have no time for that. Life is too short to be an ass. Life is way too short to be ignorant of the promise of something that is helping people worldwide. Stop the deaths. Stop the suffering. Please, get vaccinated. Please.”

He’s gone. No doubt Tucker Carlson will ask Rupert Murdoch to fire him. Travis Tritt’s fans will insist. They’re that other America.

And that other America is Florida:

Florida’s top health official was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of a state senator who told him she had a serious medical condition, officials have confirmed.

Florida Senate leader Wilton Simpson, a Republican, sent a memo to senators Saturday regarding the incident at the office of Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky, asking visitors at the building to be respectful with social interactions. Polsky, who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, had not yet made public her breast cancer diagnosis.

Florida’s top health official didn’t give a shit:

Polsky told the Associated Press about the tense exchange with state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo that was first reported by the news site Florida Politics. She said Ladapo and two aides were offered masks and asked to wear them when they arrived for the Wednesday meeting. She did not tell him she had breast cancer, but said she had a serious condition.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cancer patients are at a higher risk to get severely ill from COVID-19 and may not build the same immunity to vaccines.

Florida’s top health official doesn’t believe that for a moment:

Ladapo had asked to meet her in Tallahassee as he seeks confirmation in the Senate after being named to the post by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month.

“It was so shocking to me that he treated me in this manner,” Polsky said. “If he is a surgeon general for the next several years, I am really concerned about a future public health emergency and not being able to rely on him for necessary guidance and proper scientific leadership.”

Ladapo offered to go outside, but the senator said she did not want to sit on the metal picnic tables on a warm day when her office was nice and spacious. She said she asked whether there was a reason why he couldn’t wear a mask, but he wouldn’t answer.

Perhaps he was putting her in her place. She can’t tell him what to do. He is, after all, Ron DeSantis’ man:

Democrats have opposed the appointment of Ladapo, criticizing him for comments and actions related to the pandemic.

A day into his job, Ladapo signed new rules allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school after being exposed to people who tested positive for COVID-19.

On Thursday at a press conference with DeSantis to oppose vaccine mandates, Ladapo said people were not comfortable with the vaccines because the federal government has not been open about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines, saying there was a “concerted effort” to hide stories of people with adverse reactions.

None of these vaccines were ever tested for anything, and they’re hiding how many people just drop dead after one jab in the arm, and quarantines are useless in controlling any infectious diseases. He’s DeSantis’ man:

Ladapo also wrote an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal saying masks have “little or no effect on respiratory virus transmission.”

All the research since the 1919 Spanish Flu epidemic that says otherwise is wrong, so it comes down to this:

In the memo sent by Simpson, the president of the Florida senate, he said that while there’s no mask mandate in the Senate, senators can request social distancing and masking within their offices.

“It shouldn’t take a cancer diagnosis for people to respect each other’s level of comfort with social interactions during a pandemic,” he said.

But her cancer is her problem, not his. Florida’s top health official says freedom is the only issue here, and all the science is wrong anyway.

And that led to this:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Sunday he hopes to woo out-of-state police officers who oppose their states’ vaccine mandates with $5,000 bonuses, part of his broader attack on vaccine requirements, and positioning of himself as an emerging figure in national Republican politics.

He will be the new leader of that other America:

Florida is “actively working to recruit out-of-state law enforcement,” DeSantis said on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, claiming Covid-19 vaccine mandates are “unconstitutional.”

The governor said he is “going to hopefully sign” legislation that would give each police officer a $5,000 bonus if they relocate.

DeSantis said that bill would be introduced during an upcoming special session of the Florida legislature, which the governor called earlier this week in order to pass legislation that would ban private employers from imposing vaccine mandates.

Yes, his grammar is shaky. He is “going to hopefully sign” legislation? With hope in his heart? He meant he “hopes to sign” this legislation:

“NYPD, Minneapolis, Seattle: If you’re not being treated well, we’ll treat you better here, you can fill important needs for us, and we’ll compensate you as a result,” DeSantis said Sunday.

DeSantis said when announcing the special session he hoped it would take place in November, but Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls said in a memo to lawmakers after DeSantis’ announcement the governor has not yet proposed any specific dates.

In short, this was political bullshit, but something is up:

More than 20 states have implemented Covid-19 vaccine mandates for government workers like police officers, according to NPR, along with a number of major municipalities like Chicago.

A number of police unions nationwide have strongly opposed the mandates—and some have filed lawsuits in an attempt to block them – with more than 4,500 police officers in Chicago refusing the mandate and Massachusetts’ police union reporting at least 150 officers have resigned. The mass opposition to the mandates has sparked fears existing staffing shortages will become even worse as a result.

DeSantis’ plan to reward out-of-state officers and ban employer mandates comes after Florida has already enacted a “vaccine passport” ban. That bars private businesses, and educational institutions and local governments, from demanding proof of Covid-19 vaccination from customers or government employees.

Violating that law carries a fine of $5,000 per infractions and the state is investigating more than 100 potential offenders, already fining Leon County $3.57 million over its employee vaccine mandate.

And now imagine a police force everywhere in Florida, unvaccinated, refusing to wear masks, ever, anywhere, vowing to protect and serve, but spreading deadly disease as much as possible, because that’s your problem, not theirs. Freedom!

That’s the other America, as is this:

The president of a Pennsylvania school board says she has received violent anti-Semitic threats over the school district’s decision to impose a mask mandate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three parents of Pennsbury School District students filed a lawsuit last month over a mandate requiring students to wear masks in classrooms and on buses. Others have attended school board meetings in recent months to air their grievances about the school imposing restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and about school teachings on racism and diversity.

In a Friday statement, Pennsbury School Board President Christine Toy-Dragoni said that she had recently received emails, social media messages and messages to her cell phone that threaten “every woman in my family with rape, every man in my family with significant injury,” in addition to threats to publish her personal information and to murder her.

This isn’t Florida. This is just outside Philadelphia:

“If all of this wasn’t disgusting enough, several e-mails my fellow board members have received are violently anti-Semitic,” Toy-Dragoni continued. “Many messages, including the threat of rape against my family members and me, were anti-immigrant. Other messages were horrifically transphobic.”

“Because of the grotesque and pervasive nature of these threats, my colleagues are rightfully fearful about speaking out publicly,” she added.

That was the whole idea, to shut them up:

Toy-Dragoni released censored screenshots of some of the messages alongside her statement. The threatening messages that included the phrases “Death to the Jew” and “Good men are waking up to the Jew sickness.” One message suggested she was “lucky” that these parents did not “kill you and your whole family.”

The board president indicated that she would be turning over uncensored versions of messages she had received to her local FBI office…

And that’s when this will turn interesting. Are death threats protected free speech? That depends on which America we al inhabit at the moment. And no one can agree on that at the moment. It’s time to state the obvious once again. This will not end well.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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