The Costs of Callousness

Boredom does not justify genocide.

Ah, Sweden, one of the favorite countries to admire for all of its beauty and fine examples. Not surprisingly, Sweden is predominantly White, with a stereotype of sensual Nordic gods who have the best schools and business. The sitting president of the United States has admired many of the great Nordic countries because he is a White supremacist, and hates that there are any people who are not White — by definition. Unfortunately, when one is the president, he has a microphone amplified throughout the country, which has inspired the worst of the citizenry. Because of the admiration of Sweden, news of its “herd immunity” swept the globe, and too many people in the United States have decried and defied quarantine orders. This pandemic has demonstrated the problem with not developing the critical thinking skills required to look at the entire picture, and the United States needs to start looking at options other than “push people into herd immunity.”

First and foremost, Sweden has national healthcare, which means that if people get sick, they can go to public facilities that tend to people regardless of financial status. Are there no problems with public healthcare? Problems exist because life is uncertain and human beings are fallible; the existence of problems is not a reason to eschew public healthcare. Healthcare in the United States is unnecessarily expensive, bloated largely because of the insurance industry, which stands as a barrier between people and healthcare due to the belief in “free market” capitalism. In the United States, letting everyone out means that more people will have to pay what it costs to fight COVID-19. People in the U.S. are dying from the inability to afford insulin due to the cultivation of unhealthy food geographies in disadvantaged areas. In what universe is it pragmatic to demand people “resume normalcy” when almost no one has $20,000 lying around, thanks to income inequality? How about when no one can either access nor afford testing? None of this makes sense from a medical perspective, but everyone is still pushing the “herd immunity” narrative.

Also, COVID-19 has had disproportionate negative outcomes for the Black and brown communities in the United States. In Sweden, there has been a rise in violence against people who are not the purported “sensual Nordic gods” and still, because the healthcare is nationalized, those same people would be able to acquire care — biased and probably substandard by their own measure, but some care. In the United States, Black and brown people are being turned away and are dying because of the ideology that Black and brown people are inherently worth less. For weeks, the United States refused to even obtain racial data because the death of Black and brown people was considered a reasonable sacrifice for the good of the economy. Everyone saying that the economy cannot handle a longer quarantine is stating that the United States should continue its time-honored tradition of murdering Black and brown people in favor of money. “Herd immunity” could otherwise be described as a desire for a White ethnostate, because if the destruction is concentrated, governments are communicating whom they think can be discarded. Apparently, too many people still think that Black and brown people need to pay the costs of callousness.

None of the people in power — in the United States or in Sweden — have been able to justify why it is acceptable to condemn marginalized populations to non-consensual service to their country. People who have been able to telecommute from the safety of their homes and keep their high paying jobs have complained about being bored. Meanwhile, people classified as “essential workers” have been forced to continue their commutes. When states have opened, many “non-essential” employees have been left to find or pay for childcare, despite the fact that many of them work low-wage jobs. “Herd immunity” demonstrates the fallacies of the myth of the rugged “individual” by stating that “strong people” will survive a COVID infection. In the United States, “strong” means rich, which has been confirmed by the disgusting wealth acquisition when mass graves are being dug. People demanding “herd immunity” are saying that when the wealthy are bored, the poor deserve to die.

Sweden’s general rhythm has not changed during the pandemic in defiance of general guidelines but had people lost their jobs, social safety nets exist to protect its populace. Therefore, if anyone had to quarantine or needed healthcare, there was nothing preventing Swedish citizens from following safety guidelines, which is why so many did not. “False bravado” is another name for “herd immunity,” because it takes a certain mentality to claim that everyone is developing herd immunity when there are no risks to being safe. In the United States, 30 million people have not only lost their jobs, but have filed for unemployment, which is supposedly paid by their employers, but could take weeks to access. “Essential workers” had to keep going to work not just because the government deemed them “essential,” but to avoid joining the rising homeless population. There are no protections for homeless people in the United States, which is why there is a chronic homeless population, and why they are the most vulnerable. If “herd immunity” was real, neither the homeless nor the prison population would have contracted COVID-19 at such alarming rates, nor would they be dying.

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