Clashes in my head! Science and health versus ignorance! Democracy versus capricious authoritarianism! “All born equal” versus racism!
After a long day of historical research, who should enter into my head last night? One great man I had studied anew –The Very Reverend Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, and satirist, author of “A Modest Proposal” and Gulliver’s Travels.
“What do you need, kind sir? Prithee, tell me, why does your mind call upon mine?”
Help me! Am I mad? I follow science, trust the best research. Many around me, in my beloved nation, do not. They have slipped, I fear, back into your century, or farther back. And now, our people, indeed, the human race, face an existential pandemic: a new disease—Covid-19.
Yet, almost half of all Republican males refuse to take the vaccine against Covid-19. The refusenicks? 49% Republican men; 47% Trump supporters; 40% White males without college degrees; 38% White Evangelicals (NPR/PBS/Marist poll, Nicolas Reimann, Forbes, 24 Mar 21). Progress is coming, and our President has ordered all adults eligible to receive a vaccine by April 19. Yet so many resist.
“Don’t despair. Let It Be, as the Beatles of the your last century said. And your readers? Are they, or family members or friends, among those who so foolishly choose?”
Yes. And, they may die or be stricken with long-term illnesses.
“No matter. I propose they will be helping to ‘thin the herd.’ If you studied the 19th century, you remember nearly everyone got measles, before a vaccine could be developed.”
Yes, this time, it took only a year for that development, thanks to science and government support of science. But, kind sir, still well over one-half a million have died!
“So, they already choose death; they anticipated my first immodest proposal: let those who so choose die or become infirm! Yes, ‘twill place a strain on the medical system and economy, but all will be better off without their anger.”
Yes, strange times; some denying they had Covid as they were dying! But, before they become infected, before they die, many also intend to force democracy to die. First made law in Georgia, now proposed in Texas, are restrictive, anti-voting measures: House Bill 6 and Senate Bill 7. Notice the anti-mask, anti-vaccine, racist, Republican lobbies linked together? They seem flip-sides of the same anti-science, anti-voting-statistics coin.
“Efstoons, then they have already chosen their fate; if not, it would be one of my immodest proposals: I repeat: let them infirm and pass away!” Swift continued…
“One of your most imminent scientists, Dr.Neil deGrasse Tyson implores: ‘science is true, whether or not you believe it.’ To the deniers, your refusenicks, he chides: ‘You had a chance to test, to see if our species could survive,’ (James Cordon’s “Late, Late Show, 5 Apr 21). He implied you are failing that test.”
I agree; in fact, by ignoring science, good sense, we are deliberately aiding and abetting the Sixth Mass Extinction (John Whitfield, Lost Animals: Extinct, Endangered, and Rediscovered Species, 2020, Smithsonian Books). And, kind sir, another matter: what of those who forget democracy, or, by their actions, their fealty to Trump, oppose democracy?
“Professor, we hardly had much democracy in my day. My immodest proposal for them? Go! Live in a society you seem to adore—Russia—Czars in my day, Putin in yours. There, only one party is allowed. People do not vote freely. Critics are silenced or murdered. The government is ruled by an autocrat. Your Republicans desire that? Let them immigrate. Give them one-way tickets, out of their huge tax break—it would be, as you modern folks say, ‘win-win,’ no?”
Oh, no, wait, they hate immigrants—wouldn’t be caught dead as an immigrant. (Pardon the pun.) And, they hate mandates by government. Would they be happy in Russia?
“No, of course not; they haven’t thought it through at all.”
Well, I shall convey your proposal to proper authorities. It seems reasonable. And, meanwhile, what of relentless racism here, if they won’t leave? You helped the Irish resist English repression. Have you no suggestions to help African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, other minorities? No way to stem White racism?
“My son, you recall, in your last century, advocates of racism began in Germany long before Hitler. Old and new resentments were exploited to divide the citizenry. The repulsive Holocaust began with hateful rhetoric, long before the death camps (Sara J. Bloomfield and Greg Schneider, “The Holocaust,” Time, 8 Apr 21.) So, I propose sending African Americans to Africa.”
(I nearly bolted upright!) Sorry, that was tried before, in the 19th century. Ex-slaves were sent to Sierra Leon and Liberia. There was even a “Black Zionism” movement. Some Whites and some Blacks supported the idea; but most opposed. Most importantly, it is a racist idea today. Moreover, it didn’t work.
“Alas! Then, as now, many Whites, like Gulliver, fear being swallowed up by Lilliputians. Anon, the false fears lead to racist actions—of exclusion or aggression. Hmm, so neither Whites nor Blacks want to leave? I won’t suggest, this time, ‘eat the babies,’ as I did to goad the British into relieving Irish hunger. But as a religious person, I suggest — try religion: how do some of your fellows say it now? ‘Come to Jesus.’”
Uh, no, your reverence; with all due respect, the Evangelical approach won’t work either; my old Southern Baptist grandmother swore that being Black was the “mark of Cain,” of the first murder. And those are now the very people who refuse vaccinations, refuse to recognize legitimate elections. Try again.
But the elusive Dean Jonathan was vanishing…
“I am all out of proposals, modest or immodest. I am out of time. Your society may also be out of time, unless reason and mutual respect prevail.”
Just then, my alarm went off. I awoke, thanking my dreams, thanking writers, scientists, philosophers, thanking men and women in and out of government who listen to such advice. I awoke, realizing, all the more, the need to reform and improve our thinking and our actions.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by writer and research Dr. Gary Joe Mounce. It appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the author’s permission. Mounce can be reached by email via: [email protected].
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column is a painting of Jonathan Swift.
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