The disaster that divides us

Let’s take World History for $1,000.

The answer is: World War II, 9-11, and the COVID-19 virus.

(Cue the “Jeopardy” theme: Do-Do-Do-Do-Do-Do-Do, etc.)

The question is: Name two events that united this country, and one that did not.

That thought came up the other night while watching a retrospective on how this country pulled together both on the war front and domestically to defeat Mr. Hilter and company. While the soldiers slogged around, giving their lives for freedom, back home, people did not grumble about rationing their food or donating their nylons and rubber products for the war machine, and, while there were some pacifists who never give up their fight, there was an overwhelming sense of unity that the country was truly “all in this together.”

Likewise after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Though he was widely unpopular for his miscues regarding the weapons of mass destruction canard he used to take out Saddam Hussein, the country rallied around President George W. Bush. Who can forget him standing on that huge pile of World Trade Center rubble during his historic bullhorn moment: “I hear you. The rest of the world hears you … and the people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon,” he shouted in a statement that produced almost unanimous solitary from sea to shining sea.

Alas, that was then.

And now is not then.

The vicious virus which has decimated our previously “normal’ world into a life-threatening nightmare with no end in sight has the potential for bringing us together to fight it.

But, instead of fighting it, we are fighting each other.

Back in WWII, our elders tell us, there was no joy in making personal sacrifices for the common good. But very few stood up and refused to cooperate because their personal freedoms were being abridged. If they did, they were told to sit down and shut up.

During the coronavirus crisis, the divided nation gets all kinds of protesting, from all sides. Some leaders who justify their decisions based on science call for “common sense” to mask up, while others reject science and firmly believe that this whole thing is a hoax.

Ask Gov. Gretchen Whitmer about navigating in this decidedly un-united climate.

At the outset last March, she had the full support of the Republican legislative leaders, as no one knew how to cope with this virus. She led and they followed.

And the lockdown of the state, with all those stay-at-home orders, did work. It took months, but the curve was bent, and, by June, Michigan was number two in the nation in combating the pandemic.

But underneath all that were the seeds of discontent. Unlike the World War, when the nation suffered collectively for five years, the human tolerance this time was evaporating much sooner.

“She’s not my mother,” protestors labeled the governor as they defied her orders.

Republicans began to complain, driven in part by the need for businesses to reopen and start making money again, that this governor’s unilateral decisions were ignoring the elected officials who wanted to be part of the decision-making process too.

Whitmer defended her decisions, saying the economy would not come back if the virus dragged on. Her use of science to justify her moves was rejected by one leader as “political science,” while another harped at the governor to share her data.

Although Whitmer has said it countless times, merely saying “we are all in this together” does not make it so, which leads to the following:

When will the state of Michigan unite in saving lives?

The answer is?


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