After it had become clear that the novel coronavirus pandemic had become a thing, my e-mail inboxes started to fill with COVID-19-related e-mails. Even, and maybe even especially, entities with only the slightest relationship to the pandemic sent me schmaltzy e-mails that, in my eyes, made them look only worse for having mindlessly, sheepfully jumped onto the bandwagon, not better.
And, of course, crisis capitalism quickly ensued — this is the U S of A, after all, and we won’t allow any crisis to pass without having at least tried hard to capitalize on it — with everyone selling online face masks (which you might ever receive or not, and which, if you do, might even actually be usable or not) and hand sanitizer being sold for many times its actual worth. Don’t even get me started about the run on toilet paper.
But COVID-19 actually sustained the nation’s attention for more that two whole months, which just might be record in and of itself. (Maybe during my lifetime, 9/11 still has the national-attention record.)
Now, though, we’ve already forgotten about the novel coronavirus, although it certainly hasn’t forgotten about us, and we’ve moved on to the next murder of a black man by a white cop.
And now, I’m getting e-mails from pretty much any entity that has ever sent me an e-mail before, stating that they stand up for racial justice, even if their business is only tangentially related to the topic at best.
I’m for racial justice, too, but shouldn’t that be a given? I mean, do you really get props for standing up against, say, cancer or the abuse of kittens and puppies? More pointedly: Do you really get special credit for being against that which you should be against anyfuckingway? And is merely stating that you are against something the same thing as actually having done something, anything, to help anyone or anything?
Don’t get me wrong — as I have noted, the cruel murder of George Floyd is a sickening, outrage-inducing travesty, and obviously we have plenty of work to do to prevent even more vicitims like George Floyd — but even I am a bit amazed by how quickly the national attention switched from a deadly virus that thus far has killed almost 110,000 Americans (and counting) to racism and racial justice, protests, riots, free speech, policing, vandalizing and looting.
We went right from week after week of “social distancing” to protesters pretty much overnight packing our public spaces shoulder to shoulder. Virus? What virus?
And that, I surmise, might be a huge factor behind the protests sparked by the murder by cop of George Floyd: Because of the mandatory governmental lockdown (and slowdown) orders (which I still view as fairly necessary nationwide), young people had been cooped up indoors for weeks on end, all of that energy building up.
On top of that, our young people, many if not most of them employed in the service sector, have had to contend with COVID-19-related job loss and being able to continue to pay for rent and other necessities — unlike the baby boomers, who always have had the plum jobs and have been able to be homeowners and who continue to profiteer off of our young people.
All that our already-fuming young people needed, then, was a spark.
Because the cold-blooded, racism-induced murder of George Floyd certainly isn’t all that our young people have to be enraged about.
They are inheriting a debt-ridden national economy — those of us who are younger than the baby boomers are being stuck with the debt that the baby boomers are forcing upon us so that they can continue to live their lavish lifestyles now and not have to worry at all about the national debt, since they’ll be dead.
Again, our young people are inheriting a national (and an increasingly global) economy in which most jobs are dead-end service-sector jobs that provide nothing approaching a living wage, much more decent benefits, probably especially decent health care that won’t bankrupt them from the out-of-pocket costs.
Our young people also are inheriting an incredibly dysfunctional political system in which the elected officials do not do what the majority of their constituents want them to do — for example, a clear majority of Americans want Medicare for All, which neither “President” Pussygrabber nor Repugnican-Lite Hidin’ Joe Biden supports (those are our “choices” for president this year — much like our “choices” were in 2016).
And our young people watch fairly politically helplessly as the baby boomers frivolously squander every last cent of our national wealth on themselves, such as for their McMansions, their luxury cars and their recreational vehicles, their plastic surgeries and other their pathetic, lost-cause attempts to regain their youth, and, as soon as they’re allowed to resume them, their golfing, their fine dining, their cruises and their trips around the world.
And I haven’t even mentioned the jaw-dropping devastation to the planet that the baby boomers — formerly the “flower children” who were going to save the world — have continued to wreak or to just sit back and allow to continue to happen because Hey, their lives are going just swell!
So, again, I don’t think that our young people’s righteous anger is only about George Floyd (whether all of them are even consciously aware of that or not). Floyd’s murder by cop was the spark, yes, but the fuel had been building up for quite some time.
I fully support protest for change, even when I’m not sure how effective it will be. In my fifth decade on the planet, I’ve seen a fairly clear pattern: Shit builds up, shit is released, then shit builds up again, then shit is released again, and on and on — just like in an abusive relationship — but the fundamentals of American society appear to remain the same (just like in an abusive relationship…). Indeed, our overlords (most of them baby boomers, if I haven’t mentioned the baby boomers yet…), count on each storm eventually blowing over and things more or less going right back to “normal.”
In the meantime, I’m still amazed at how quickly the nation apparently forgot all about COVID-19, and I expect to receive a lot more e-mails about how businesses and organizations so valiantly are against the murder of black Americans by our cops.
P.S. Crisis capitalism hasn’t missed the protests over the death of George Floyd. (Nothing is sacred to capitalism, and especially to crisis capitalism.) Online and via e-mail I’ve seen all kinds of ads for T-shirts, books and movies (for purchase or for rent) related to racial justice. Sure, it’s timely, but it’s also about making money from the murder of a black man.