TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2020
The wretched will just have to wait: The most interesting thing we read this morning was Michelle Goldberg's new column.
Goldberg has small children; we don't. We've often wondered how hard it must be for parents of small kids at this extremely difficult time. Early on, Goldberg tells us:
GOLDBERG (12/21/20): If, before this year, I felt for a day the way I now feel all the time, I’d consider it an emergency and do anything I could to fix it. Now that I’m waiting out a pandemic in a small apartment with small kids and winter closing in, most things I’d need to do to be less miserable are proscribed, though sometimes by suggestion rather than decree.
If you're able to care about other people, that isn't a good thing to read. Later, Goldberg offers a surprising flashback concerning the pandemic's early days:
GOLDBERG: In April, when the pandemic was still new, I interviewed a community leader in a particularly hard-hit Brooklyn housing project who told me, frankly, that she and her friends weren’t social distancing because they needed each other too much, especially in apocalyptic times. “You don’t want to know that your friends and family are going to lock you out because there’s zombies outside,” she said.
I couldn’t help but sympathize. At the time my family, vastly more privileged, had moved in with friends at a remote country house, hoping to wait out a disaster we expected to end in a month.
We’re alone now, but I understand people who decide they can’t be, even if these decisions are collectively calamitous...
Really? In April, "privileged" people thought the pandemic disaster was going to end in a month? It makes no difference at this point, but we find that comment surprising.
Goldberg's column provides a glimpse of the personal pain involved in social isolation. For ourselves, we're inclined to dislike the use of the term "privileged" which is now widely found within Our Town's woke culture. It involves a type of self-flagellation which strikes us as hugely unhelpful and not very instructive.
That said, performative virtue is now the rage in the streets of our own failing town. This helps explain the problem described in this recent post by Kevin Drum.
"Democrats Have a Problem With the Working Class"—or so Drum's headline claims. He links to reports in both the Washington Post and the New York Times—reports which suggest that even the black and Hispanic working class has begun to drift in the direction of the GOP.
Dems did fine with the "college-educated" class in November's election. At the same time, a puzzling drift was observed in the non-college segment of the electorate, which is twice as large. Trump's lunacy may have saved the Dems this time, but this trend should be a point of concern.
Why has the black and Hispanic working class been drifting toward the GOP, even toward Donald J. Trump? Our Town's noxious performative virtue, mixed with our world-class generational dumbness, is surely one part of the problem.
In the next few days, we'll wander among some examples. But even as our own woke class announces its virtue to the world, what are we actually like, or a moral basis, as a giant nation?
What are we really like as world citizens? What are we like as a people? Consider this throw-away passage from an essay in the Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post:
KHAN (12/20/20): Wealthy countries representing just 14 percent of the world’s population have used their resources and influence to capture 96 percent of Pfizer’s vaccine and 100 percent of Moderna’s, according to a report by Oxfam and other human rights organizations. These nations are even planning on stockpiling extra, just in case. And because of this, it’s estimated that billions of poorer people in less-advantaged nations will not receive the vaccine for years.
Say what? We're part of an international cabal which is hoarding the world's vaccine supply? Assuming that statement is accurate, the wretched of the earth will just have to wait—we're getting our shots first!
Assuming that statement is accurate, we'll admit that we've seen no other discussion of this remarkable state of affairs. Assuming that statement is accurate, it says something about our moral standing as a people, even as the political class within Our Town performs its virtue far and wide, for everyone to admire.
The piece in the Post was written by Shamus Khan, a sociology professor who's on the move from Columbia down to Princeton. Khan refers to this hoarding of vaccine as "a profound moral failure," but he mentions it only in passing in his Outlook piece.
His real concern is the way elites in this country may crowd to the head of our nation's vaccine line, even as the wretched of the earth have to wait for us to access our safety first.
(For what it's worth, Khan's essay includes one of those "links to nowhere," in which a source to which he links fails to support the particular claim he's making about These Better-Off People Today. This is one of the ways our own elite academic / journalistic class exercises one of its own types of "privilege.")
Are we part of a worldwide cabal which is hoarding the planet's vaccines? If so, you aren't likely to read a whole lot about it. Nor are you likely to hear about it when you watch cable TV.
In Our Town, our tribunes are strongly inclined to reinforce a prevailing tribal notion, in which we in Our Town are demonstrably moral and pure. It's all about getting Rudy locked up. The wretched of the earth can just go hang in the yard.
The belief that we in Our Town are moral and pure is now played out on a daily basis in our favorite journals. We'd have to assume that this rancid, remarkably dumb behavior is moving the others toward the candidates found over there in Their Town.
In the next two days, we'll move on to examples. Elsewhere, some of the others can surely see that our tribal claims of spectacular virtue just ain't necessarily so.
Are we hoarding the world's vaccines in the clinics of Our Town? If so, why aren't Our Town's multimillionaire cable stars telling us all about it?
Night after night after night after night, why is it all about locking up Rudy? Is it possibly part of our "privilege" that we aren't being told?
Tomorrow: A conversation remembered from high school. Two years later, a roommate from Montclair...