Badassery in Denver. Photo by Alyson McClaran
Now, inevitably, we are seeing the frenzied rise of anti-lockdown, pro-stupidity, Trump-endorsed protests for the time-honored American right to die in the name of stubborn ignorance. Thus, the stunning sight of a few masked health care workers standing stoically in the streets of Denver this weekend to block hundreds of car-honking zealots, complete with a blonde harpy shrieking, "Go to China!" because, duh, science is communism. The photos of those embattled but unflappably calm nurses, captured by freelancer Alyson McClaran, prompted much respect and admiration among cognizant Americans. Proclaimed one, "This is the kind of badassery we should all aspire to." But the dangerous idiocy, thanks to far-right fringe groups with money, is spreading - Texas, Utah, New England, Tennessee, Washington, Pennsylvania, where one truck trumpeted the inspiring message, "Jesus Is My Vaccine." We feel better already.
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With the madness growing as insidiously as the virus, many health care workers have had enough. In a searing open letter posted by the Minnesota Nurses Association, RN Emily Pierskalla describes daily reeling through the stages of grief, from denial and anger - that the ill and elderly are deemed disposable, "the pocketbooks of stockholders are considered more important than human lives," a so-called health system that prioritizes profits over health can run out of “critical” supplies - to a final devastating acceptance she may die of COVID-19. If she does, forget the talk of heroes: "I want my death to make you angry." "I want you to politicize my death," she writes. "I want you to use it as fuel to demand change in this industry...Use my death to mobilize others. Use my name at the bargaining table. Use my name to shame those who have profited or failed to act, leaving us to clean up the mess. Don’t say 'heaven has gained an angel.' Tell them negligence and greed has murdered a (person) dedicated to compassion and service." And may she and all the others stay safe.
Small stand-in for lockdown protesters.