One million dead and no one accountable

In the next few days, expect every news station to report something like this: “The United States has reached a grim new milestone in the Covid-19 pandemic with one million Americans having died from the disease so far.” Some websites tracking the death toll report that the one million number has already been passed ( Others show the country reaching one million dead within a short time.

Either way, it’s an awful number, comparable to the deaths in the bloody Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. That conflict traumatized Spain for generations. In contrast, in the United States today, many people have reacted as if nothing much has happened. The call for accountability is faint, and most people seem to want to go on with business as usual as quickly as possible.

The current Covid-19 numbers show the criticism leveled early on against public health officials as a bunch of “alarmists” was silly and wrong. The highest predictions of deaths turned out be too low. Misguiding people in a life-and-death situation like this one ought to be a crime. And people in the last administration, people in Congress, and people in state governments who distorted the truth should be held accountable.

Here is another idea that will make all the people I like to offend go crazy. Let’s melt down all the Confederate monuments and repurpose them in memory of those who died from Covid-19.

Exceptional hypocrisy is part and parcel of American exceptionalism.

There should also be appointed a commission to investigate what went wrong in the response to Covid-19. This should not be hard because in the first year of the crisis under Donald Trump, basically everything went wrong. Never again should tens of thousands of American lives be sacrificed on the altar of a false god, the economy. Leadership is about doing tough things, like the Ukrainian president compelling civilian men to stay and fight, no bone spur excuses accepted. Not a peep of protest from the Ukrainians.

In the American system, in which a perverse version of freedom reigns that allows any nut to own an arm made for war, the president could not compel civilians even to take a safe and effective vaccine for the sake of protecting the most vulnerable among us. There were lawsuits and howls against vaccine mandates. Anti-vaxers know what a mandate is. A mandate is when the commander in chief tells you to go out to fight a larger and better equipped army at the risk of your life and the cost of being separated from your wife and children. Sitting in an air-conditioned pharmacy for fifteen minutes and getting a prick on your arm that hurts like a mosquito bite is a mandate only if you are a wimp or totally deluded.

President Joe Biden is doing a good job denouncing the Russian invasion in the strongest terms and providing material supplies to Ukraine. But there is a fatal flaw in the idea that the United States is the world’s leader in prosecuting the perpetrators of international atrocities. This country has refused to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) which is charged with judging in such cases.

Why is the United States not a party to the Rome treaty that established the ICC? The United States acts as a law unto itself. The UN Security Council refused to authorize the Iraq war? The United States went ahead regardless. American soldiers wantonly kill civilians in Iraq according to testimony of fellow soldiers. President Trump could not rush fast enough to pardon them. Trump orders an illegal execution of an Iranian general on the territory of Iraq. Whether it is invading Cuba with a proxy exile army, overthrowing a democratic government in Guatemala in the 1950s, mining Nicaraguan ports in the 1970s, backing death squads in El Salvador or undermining the Chilean president Salvador Allende, the United States has been a major violator of international law. From a larger perspective, the United States has an innocence delusion. While Germany has a guilt complex, the United States has not been able to own up to the crimes perpetrated against African Americans, Native Americans, Filipinos, and others. Exceptional hypocrisy is part and parcel of American exceptionalism.