Murder-Suicide

Pence goes maskless at Mayo Clinic
Pence goes maskless at Mayo Clinic

For the past nine months we have all been the victims of a murder/suicide. Donald Trump and his cult followers are killing us. By refusing to wear masks, by spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories, by undermining whatever semblance of a coordinated national response might have been mustered to defeat the virus, they have been killing us. That’s called murder. They are, of course, also killing themselves. Murder-Suicide.

Trump has gone down in a decisive defeat, but it doesn’t matter. The 70 million who voted for him may not have been enough to win the election, but they are more than enough to kill us. So what if he lost the election? January 20, 2021 is still two months away. At the rate this out-of-control pandemic is spreading, too many of us will either be very sick or very dead by then. I’m not kidding.

Who will die? The old, the weak, the poor, Black and brown. This might just be the realization of Stephen Miller’s fever dream of Nazi social engineering — cull the weak. But it won’t even stop there. The healthy are dying too and will continue to die until it ALL burns down.

For four years we’ve employed the Jim Jones/Kool-Aid meme as metaphor. It is no longer metaphorical; it’s happening right in front of us, or rather to us. We are its victims. All of us have slammed against the wall of the Trump supporter whose single identifying characteristic (like Trump) is imperviousness to rational argument, appeals to decency, or even common sense. Now it seems their blind loyalty has led them literally over the Covid cliff. Witness the explosion of the virus in those very red states that are home to the most fervent Trump supporters. No accident.

And why — it’s reasonable to ask — are these millions of misguided people willing to drink his poisonous Kool-Aid and self-immolate? Donald Trump has awakened something horrible in too many of them. He has given permission to their worst impulses of selfishness, grievance and entitlement. They see in him someone who has given in to every craven “I got mine and I want more” and “I’ll walk over anyone who tries to take it from me or keep me from getting my more” impulse and gotten away with it. (There’s a whole generation of nasty twelve year old boys we’re going to have to deal with in another 10 years if we make it that far.)

Trump’s origin story, told by Mary Trump, has him watching his father bully and humiliate his older brother, constantly skewering him for being weak, rendering him ever weaker. Young Trump sides with his father, the bully/victor, seeing in it a formula for survival. Dad says, “Aha, here’s my killer!” and then proceeds to reward him and prop him up to the tune of millions of dollars. His cult followers don’t care. Those 70 million are now standing in the way of us getting control of the virus. Murder-Suicide.

Everywhere I go on Cape Cod, people wear masks and social distance. We do this little dance as we approach each other — a sudden stop, drift to the side, proceed with a quiet nod. Cases and deaths in Massachusetts, after holding steady, are now skyrocketing. So we live in a blue bubble which, despite the surge in cases and deaths, still feels somewhat safe. If you too are, so far, untouched by the virus, you too are living in a bubble. But the out-of-control fire now sweeping the country will inevitably sweep right back at us.

Right now, I’m safe in a bubble and so are you — unless you’re not. Unless you’re one of the people who is sick, or whose parent or spouse or child is sick or has already died. Then you’re in hell. Your life is destroyed. You’re in the middle of a forest fire/hurricane/flood/tsunami beyond any Katrina. The rest of us, I fear, are only marking time until we get there too.

1/20/21 cannot come too soon.

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Jeff Zinn is an actor, director and writer. His book, The Existential Actor: Life and Death, Onstage and Off (Smith and Kraus Publishing) was released in 2015.

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Jeff Zinn

Jeff Zinn is an actor, director and writer. His book, The Existential Actor: Life and Death, Onstage and Off (Smith and Kraus Publishing) was released in 2015.