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Land of the ‘Free,’ Home of the Mass Grave

A refrigerated morgue for COVID-19 victims

America has entered an age of mass death, but it’s clear that most Americans have barely noticed, and many, perhaps a majority, don’t care.

It’s part of present-day American lore that Florida is uniquely “stupid” or “crazy,” as witness the online popularity of the “Florida Man” theme: news of male Florida residents behaving egregiously badly, often but not always due to the influence of drugs and alcohol. But Florida is just like the rest of the country, only more so, and in that light, a Washington Post article about Governor Ron DeSantis’s newfound popularity due to his devil-may-care COVID-19 policy is especially ominous.

According to the article, Florida has suffered 350 deaths per 100,000 residents, compared to the U.S. national average of 304 per 100,000. Johns Hopkins University puts the official total COVID-19 death toll for the state at 75,096, as of this writing. By simple arithmetic, we can therefore calculate that DeSantis’s policies have killed almost 10,000 people in Florida, even over the (already lousy) national average. But this is gaining him support! After having barely squeaked into the governorship in 2018, doubtless having been helped over the finish line by his Republican predecessors’ new Jim Crow-style voter disenfranchisement, DeSantis now enjoys a 55% approval rating. What are these people thinking? They won’t say it in quite so many words, but the underlying sentiment is COVID-19? LOL, who cares? The dead were probably Black, or poor, or had “preexisting health conditions,” which means they were unfit specimens who DESERVED to die so that the rest of us Floridians can continue to frolic in the sun!

What are they actually saying aloud? The article quotes a 58-year-old woman who says she appreciates that DeSantis treats Florida residents “like grown-ups.” It’s telling that she uses a child’s term for an adult, because it’s a childish view of adulthood to believe that when you “get big,” you can just do whatever you please, without a care for anybody else. DeSantis is getting ready to run for president on this “freedom first” platform, but what he’s selling is freedom from responsibility to any of your fellow Americans, if you are White and Christian and Straight and healthy. It’s freedom to behave as if there isn’t any pandemic, freedom to act as if you can drive around your Ford F150 monster truck with the TRUMP WON flag fluttering forever, or at least until it gets stuck in the monster miles-long traffic jam of people trying to flee the latest “unprecedented” and “historic” Florida hurricane caused by the carbon pollution you take to be your God-given right.

These “freedoms” mean a prison of terror and suffering for everybody else, and of course, ultimately for the White, Christian, Straight, healthy people too. But in the meantime, there are still a few good years left of frolicking in that magical Florida sunshine, with a cold brewski in your hand, your feet propped up on somebody else’s neck, and the refrigerated morgues full of COVID-19 victims, like the one in the picture, trundling along quietly in the street behind you.

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