This week, as the pandemic has claimed more than 77,000 American lives, it arrived at the doorstep of the White House when one of the president’s valets tested positive and the Vice President’s press secretary, Katie Miller, also tested positive. Miller is the wife of Trump’s senior advisor, Stephen Miller. In spite of the rising death toll and members of Trump’s inner circle testing positive, Trump continues to display magical thinking as he pushes for a swift restart of the U.S. economy while downplaying the need for more testing, showing, once again, his consistency in focusing on own his re-election and the almighty dollar over public health and safety.
We’re living A Tale of Two Countries, with marked division not only between red and blue states and political parties, but as well between a majority of Americans who remain wary of reopening quickly contrasted against Trump’s vision of embracing a hasty retreat to so-called normal.
And as some parts of the economy begin to emerge from lockdown, lawmakers have formed new battle lines over legislation to shield businesses from pandemic liability claims, stripping workers of the right to sue over unsafe working environments. Trump has already signaled to workers in meat-processing plants they don’t matter while promising the industry new liability protections, basically rewarding companies that have let the coronavirus spread thanks to their failure to protect workers.
This duality in law became further evident this week as Banana Republicans, led by Trump’s own personal attorney, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, dropped the Flynn prosecution case, essentially erasing Flynn’s guilty pleas. Duality of law was also evident this week as arrests were made in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. Arbery was chased down and shot by two white men while jogging on February 23rd in Georgia as a third recorded the killing on video. Although the video was in police possession since February, there had been no arrests. It wasn’t until public demands for justice after the video’s release this week that arrests were finally made.
The pandemic, this administration, all the hatred and racism…they’re revealing just how divided we are and how broken our systems are. We have two different systems of justice masquerading as one. One system is for those in power and the other is for those who are out of power. Those in power operate outside the system and use it as a tool to accomplish their goals, in this case, Republicans are seeking to consolidate their power and keep their “win.” They’re using law to steer society to fit their goals.
Their view of law is different from the view upon which the United States of America was founded, however. Our Founders stated clearly “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” In other words, there IS a body of law, independent of and has primacy over, what those in power might want to do.
But this administration has separated the legal system from the law. Law is supposed to be king in our nation, but thanks to those who have gained control, that king’s rule in America has become a parody of what the Founding Fathers understood by that term, and it has even gone so far as to help one man, Trump, behave as king.
Trump and his Banana Republicans’ vision for America is not only dangerous, it’s not sustainable. It’s not okay for tens of thousands of Americans to die just so long as Trump gets re-elected, nor is it okay for a president to be praising people who bring AR-15 assault rifles to anti-lockdown rallies. It’s not okay for Trump to go to a factory making face masks and refuse to wear one. (BTW, did anyone else notice the song playing in the background at the factory…Live and Let Die?) Nor is it okay for second banana Pence, head of the Coronavirus task force, to not wear a mask at the Mayo Clinic after handing out a memo before the tour stating masks were required to be worn! And it’s definitely not okay for people trying to enforce guidelines put forth by this administration regarding the wearing of masks in public to be harmed or, worse, murdered—especially by those who say they are doing so in the name of freedom…expressing their so-called God-given and constitutionally protected rights to do anything they choose to do whenever they choose to do it. Give me freedom or give me coronavirus!
Freedom is a mindset, not a status to boast about. Our society defines freedom as the power to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. But this is the paradox of freedom; if nothing restrains how each person behaves, it becomes total chaos. The bully enslaves the weak; those at the top are free while those at the bottom are not. Freedom is equated with belief above moral law, making it okay to attack others in the name of liberty.
Our systems are broken. We’re facing both a pandemic and a great depression while so-called leadership at the top becomes more self-serving by the day. And freedom has been turned into both an excuse and asset.
We’re living in a time of fear. But fear itself is not necessarily bad. It can serve as a wake-up call to action. We have before us, right here, right now, an opportunity to grow as individuals and as a nation and as humanity. The question, though, is are we up to the challenge and do we have the courage to set ourselves free to be free?
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