Contrarian results

June 21st, 2020
by Chris

On facebook, there are four or five people whose posts I see regularly who I have so far refused to block, despite the damage this policy is probably doing to my blood pressure. I fancy that I ought to know what bizarre stuff there is going around out there, and not confine myself to my own like-minded bubble.

They have in common a tendency to put forward conspiracy theories without adopting the extreme level of suspicion which they ought, as otherwise reasonably intelligent people, be directing at things which would need a quite startling degree of collusion and cover up among very many people. If they were a tenth as sceptical about the conspiracy theories as they are about anything which governments or scientific establishments come up with, they would be abandoning virtually all of these far-fetched ideas. They have in common a liking for the term “deep state”, and a tendency to see anything which excites public opinion as being a “psyop” by the “deep state” intended to produce that change in opinion – which leads them to suggest that, for instance, the children at Columbine and George Floyd were “crisis actors”.

See what I mean about my blood pressure? I find such suggestions deeply offensive to the dead and to their surviving relatives.

Incidentally, if you’re reading this post and you’re one of them, please don’t take the fact that I don’t comment disagreeing with one of your posts and/or posting a fact check as any indication that I agree with it. I virtually certainly don’t agree with anything you post unless I actually say so in a comment. OK, it’s not completely unknown! I just haven’t time to contradict all that bull, and I do need to stop my blood pressure going any higher.

And what is this obsession with Bill Gates and George Soros being evil masterminds bent on world domination through some labyrinthine plot? I grant you, before they stopped their main money-making careers having, as you might say, “won capitalism”, and turned to philanthropy, I regarded their business practices as fairly evil, but now? Is their ultimate sin the fact that they have turned to trying to benefit others by the use of their vast fortunes? Clearly, neither has any need to indulge in byzantine plots, they can just go out and buy a government or two straightforwardly. Why not concentrate on Bezos, the Kochs or the Waltons, who show no signs of wanting to benefit society?

Anyhow, that’s a preamble. What one of these people said recently (and has repeated several times) was that it was evidence that Covid 19 was a fraud (by the deep state again, no doubt) that everyone had stopped talking about it after George Floyd’s murder, so it was obviously just something trivial blown out of proportion, had blown over, and was nothing to be concerned about. That’s against the background that in the USA, where all but one of my contrarian bugbears is located, the number of active cases continues to climb, and the best that can be said of the death rate is that it might have plateued at something around the 500 per day mark.

Of course, to anyone not enmeshed in the fantasy that CV-19 is “just ‘flu” or something of the sort, it is clear that the news outlets have got bored with Coronavirus; killings, marches, beaten protestors and toppled statues are much more interesting than the daily progression of deaths, and to a great extent, that’s the case with the general public as well.

But there’s something in operation which worries me here. Please don’t misunderstand me; the death of George Floyd was horrendous, should absolutely never have happened – and particularly should not immediately have been attended by a lot of people trying to suggest that it was somehow “his fault” and that the policemen involved were not, at the very least, exhibiting depraved indifference to his life and could be excused by procedures or perceived threat levels. All of that was just insulting to anyone who viewed the footage, and particularly to George. It has been high time for as long as I can remember that American policemen stopped shooting black men, women and children in circumstances where there was no reasonable cause to do so, and it is entirely right that there should be a wave of public sentiment in favour of Black Lives Matter.

The thing is, I suspect that much of this wave of sentiment is a displacement activity. There is nothing which can be done by most of us to fight coronavirus, and, indeed, nothing is what most of us should still be doing in countries like the US and the UK where the curve has not yet gone back down to low levels (and yes, I appreciate that very many of us cannot afford to be idle any longer, and that there is ever-increasing suffering as a result, particularly where governments have not supported the wages of those who have been prevented from working).

But doing nothing is against all our instincts; we want to be out there taking action, fighting, seeing tangible results… and in protesting and taking down statues, we can do that. I would dearly like to be out there marching in solidarity with my black and brown brothers and sisters, but I really can’t, as I’m still in total lockdown with underlying health conditions which mean that, if I catch the virus, I’m probably dead (I fed my conditions into an estimator, which came back with an 81% chance of death, which is probably an overestimate, but still not something I want to risk testing at the moment).

The trouble is, all the statistics seem to show that those of us with black or brown skins are far more likely to die of the virus than those who have white or yellowish skins, underlying conditions aside, and I have a huge fear that a major result of all this pent-up need to take action will be the deaths of more of those which the demonstrations are designed to help.

That would be a very sad result – but in its own way, contrarian.

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