To the Editor:
The results of the elections in the United States seem bizarre. I just looked at the voting around the country and was shocked at the support Trump had received: 70 million voters, almost half of the electorate.
The only way I can comprehend this is through the prism of the 1920s Barnum & Bailey & Ringling Bros. “Greatest Show on Earth,” which included a menagerie, a variety performance, a concert hall and circus with a “Congress of Trained Animals,” as Ringling Bros. described themselves.
In the 1920s and 1930s, people liked to be fooled by spectacles for a brief time to take their minds away from difficulties and hard-scrabble lives, but there are now 70 million people in this country who seem to be proud of Trump’s antics. And some want to mirror them with misleading rhetoric and maskless gatherings, as if thousands of health experts are giving needless advice.
This is a childlike belief reflecting a false understanding concerning what “freedom” means. It does not mean putting others at risk of infection or over-straining public resources for healing the infected. We know that 1 or 2 percent will die after infection, which seems a small number to tempt fate, but we can never know which of us will be among the 1 or 2 percent.
And then there is Steve Bannon recently recommending that a scientist, like the epidemiologist Dr. Fauci, be beheaded, the way Europe once treated traitorous people. Bannon told the journalist Michael Lewis: “We got elected on Drain the Swamp, Lock Her Up, Build a Wall. This was pure anger. Anger and fear is what gets people to the polls.”
Perhaps we are living in some kind of alternate universe where deliberately misleading ideologies are once again reasserting themselves?