Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Litmus Test of Social Distancing

I'm out and about more than most people. I'm not flouting Governor Cuomo's guidelines, just helping with logistics for local food pantries, and giving blood, and checking in on people who need help, and going out of my way for takeout from deserted great restaurants that definitely need the business. Plus the necessary food shopping - though I haven't shaken my habit of dividing that between several different stores, which, yeah, is a light flouting, hopefully forgivable.

And I've noticed something. I once wrote that I'd discovered the ultimate political litmus test:
I believe I've struck upon the perfect behavioral litmus test for political affiliation. I haven't tested it, but it feels inarguably true:

Liberals choose Sugar In The Raw, while conservatives choose Domino (sugar substitutes are bipartisan).

As a centrist, I see the folly of both sides. Choosing Domino reveals a lack of imagination and a mulish inclination toward complacent conformity. But Sugar In The Raw is gestural fakery, exploiting the vain appeal of shallow faux-high-mindedness.
Here's an even better one: social distancing amid a pandemic.

Liberals leave 20 feet of distance while waiting on lines, and jerk backward in horror if you appear to be so much as contemplating taking a step in their direction. Fuck the experts; I know better.

Conservatives behave like it's still February. Fuck the experts; I know better.

As a Centrist, I observe the prescribed 6-10” and roll my eyes at both excesses. Obviously, at this moment and with this issue, the latter is far more dangerous. But I don't want either extreme ever running things. I want leadership by sensible, competent, non-tribal technocrats, please.

The above is just a light-hearted observation (albeit on a dark issue), but the truth is that this very divide re: the pandemic has been intentionally orchestrated by the Trump campaign and its affiliated clique of misfit toys, and it's going to get very ugly. The smartest thing I've read all week was this short four-tweet thread by Robert E Kelly (best known as the guy in the infamous and hilarious "Children interrupt BBC News interview" video).

I believe Kelly is absolutely right. And there's precedent for vicious scapegoating in the aftermath of pandemics. In fact, that's what first gave rise to European antisemitism.

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