Links and Comments: Coronavirus, Conservative Propaganda, Vaccines, Flat-Earthers, the view of the US from around the world

NYT, Paul Krugman: The Cult of Selfishness Is Killing America; subtitle: The right has made irresponsible behavior a key principle.

So we’re failing dismally on both the epidemiological and the economic fronts. But why?

So what was going on? Were our leaders just stupid? Well, maybe. But there’s a deeper explanation of the profoundly self-destructive behavior of Trump and his allies: They were all members of America’s cult of selfishness.

You see, the modern U.S. right is committed to the proposition that greed is good, that we’re all better off when individuals engage in the untrammeled pursuit of self-interest. In their vision, unrestricted profit maximization by businesses and unregulated consumer choice is the recipe for a good society.

Support for this proposition is, if anything, more emotional than intellectual. I’ve long been struck by the intensity of right-wing anger against relatively trivial regulations, like bans on phosphates in detergent and efficiency standards for light bulbs. It’s the principle of the thing: Many on the right are enraged at any suggestion that their actions should take other people’s welfare into account.

This rage is sometimes portrayed as love of freedom. But people who insist on the right to pollute are notably unbothered by, say, federal agents tear-gassing peaceful protesters. What they call “freedom” is actually absence of responsibility.


The Week (my favorite print magazine): Conservative propaganda has crippled the U.S. coronavirus response

Why does the United States have the worst coronavirus outbreak in the developed world? Part of the answer is surely that our basic state functions have been allowed to rot, or been deliberately destroyed, over the years. State capacity and competence have been shown around the world to be a key factor in whether nations can get a handle on the pandemic.

But another reason is conservative media. A small but nevertheless very loud and angry minority of Americans have had their ability to reason dissolved in a corrosive bath of crack-brained propaganda.


Business Insider: A 20-year study on dozens of vaccines finds they are safer than ‘almost any other modern medical intervention’

The trouble is, some people just don’t “believe” evidence; their minds are made up for reasons not based on evidence.


Boing Boing: Strap in for a detailed explainer on flat-earthers’ beliefs

It’s a video that I haven’t watched more than a part; the site that linked this characterized the subject as “a proxy for a much larger paradigm that mistrusts anything that you can’t touch and feel.” In other words, the very bottom level of my awareness hierarchy. Or maybe (they overlap) the understanding hierarchy.


Salon: A field guide to the pandemic deniers.

Every day there is more data to prove the dangers of the coronavirus. Yet, bizarrely, the more proof we have of the damage of the pandemic; the more vicious and hysterical its deniers. It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of uninformed, deluded ideas covidiots spew on a daily basis. We mourn not just the lives lost and the bodies damaged, but the collective intelligence of our nation. With international news consistently depicting the United States as the dumbest nation in the developed world, it is as if news of the covidiocy is almost as depressing as news of the virus’s spread itself.

With discussion of The Eye Rollers, The Shoulder Shruggers, The Narcissistic Hedonists, The Self-Proclaimed Scientists, and The Conspiracy Theorists.


The Guardian [a UK newspaper]: Europeans’ trust in US as world leader collapses during pandemic; subtitle: “Many citizens appalled by Donald Trump’s handling of coronavirus crisis, study finds”

More than 60% of respondents in Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal said they had lost trust in the United States as a global leader.

In almost every country surveyed, a majority of people said their perception of the US had deteriorated since the outbreak. Negative attitudes of the US were most marked in Denmark (71%) Portugal (70%), France (68%), Germany (65%) and Spain (64%). In France, 46% and in Germany 42% said their view of the US had worsened “a lot” during the pandemic.


And a video at New York Times: ‘That’s Ridiculous.’ How America’s Coronavirus Response Looks Abroad. Subtitle: “From lockdowns to testing, we showed people around the world the facts and figures on how the U.S. has handled the pandemic.”

You’ll never see this on Fox News.

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