As the world burns, Republicans worry about sex and subversive ideas in math texts

There is devastating news about the global impact of the pandemic and the staggering disparity between the official figures previously reported based on national data and the new World Health Organization numbers. The W.H.O. data indicates the actual number of deaths from Covid-19 is not two but two-and-a-half times the previously reported death toll. Huge.

An article by Stephanie Nolen and Karan Deep Singh published in the New York Times on April 16 and updated on April 18, starts with the following:

“An ambitious effort by the World Health Organization to calculate the global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has found that vastly more people died than previously believed — a total of about 15 million by the end of 2021, more than double the official total of six million reported by countries individually.”

The news is that, as the pandemic’s real global devastation was becoming known, the U.S. Congress refused to fund the Biden administration’s request for billions in funding for the global fight against Covid-19 granting funding for combatting the disease only in the United States. Not only is that another example of Republican-style selfishness and callousness; it is myopic and not in the national interest but an invitation for the virus to evolve and come back like a boomerang for one or more strikes at the United States as new variants.

The article appears under the curious headline “India Is Stalling the W.H.O.’s Efforts to Make Global Covid Death Toll Public.” It has been known for a long time that the Indian government, much like the Trump regime, has from the beginning tried to obfuscate, minimize, and distort the number of deaths from Covid-19. That’s not headline news.

What makes the headline curious, moreover, is that the media in this country is nothing if not U.S.-centric, and yet neither the headline nor the article itself delves into the extent of U.S. underreporting and the consequences of the lack of U.S. funding for the global Covid-19 fight for the world and for United States itself.

What is the real number of deaths in the United States? In a pandemic, the idea that what goes around comes around is almost an axiom. Why did the U.S. Congress not take this into account in cutting off all global funding? These issues go unexplored.

Ultimately, the actions of Congress in cutting off funds for Covid-19 that would have gone to poor and middle-income countries is another reflection of the current U.S. zeitgeist. Reason is not the ruling idea of the spirit of these times. The right sees left-wing phantoms everywhere and tries to cancel them. In Florida, the sea is rising, reason is sinking. Even math texts are deemed to be politically incorrect, containing not only algebraic equations but the ghost of critical race theory and other “left-wing” ideas. Who knew?

Madness. Amid a major land war in Europe, a global climate crisis that threatens to make the planet unlivable, a global pandemic that is now in a lull here but may come roaring back, a major effort by Republicans to return to power—by hook, crook, or club—the clear loser in the last presidential election, the twice-impeached Donald Trump, the topic of the day for many state legislatures, U.S. Senators, state governors, and school boards is sexual identity. The epidemic of gun violence and deaths of despair are not for them big questions but who is allowed to use which bathroom is huge. The premise of a recent movie, that a planet-destroying asteroid is heading straight for us while we fiddled and jived, seems more realistic by the day.

Maybe what this country really needs is a good national shrink. What ails us is mainly psychic, not physical. Forget I wrote that. A national psychiatrist would meet the same fate as Dr. Anthony Fauci, our leading epidemiologist: lots of threats, insults, and skepticism.

Is there a way out of our morass? I doubt it. I think that the good people who try to find a way to “protect our democracy” don’t get it. We are not a democracy. We were not designed to be a democracy. A country in which a few states with miniscule human populations and more cattle than people can choose a president and a Senate ready to derail anything that smacks of progress is not a democracy.  A country where the top 1% of Americans by income control $41.52 trillion, roughly 16 times more wealth than the bottom 50%, cannot be a democracy, especially under a system in which converting wealth and income into power and influence is child’s play.

So where does that leave us? I don’t know but I know this: nowhere good. The best I hope for is that by discarding our illusions about being a democracy and instead focusing on chipping away at our plutocracy, we might happen on a fault line that, if struck, will bring down the whole system of ultra-capitalism.

It’s a thin reed of hope, I know. But what is the alternative?