Coronapalooza: The Great White Hope and the Perfect Deadly Storm

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Despite the state's COVID numbers spiking - a record 450 new cases and 5% surge on Thursday - right after the governor declared, "Oklahoma is ready for your visit - it's going to be safe and everyone’s really really excited”; despite warnings from every health official and rational person on the planet that packing thousands of immeasurably stupid cult members into an enclosed space in a state seeing rampant infection is "extraordinarily dangerous," "criminal endangerment" and "a perfect storm of disease transmission"; despite multiple members of Trump's advance team testing positive and the failure of legal bids to mandate masks or enforce distancing guidelines and models now projecting over 200,000 deaths nationwide by October thanks to "premature relaxation" of those guidelines and the audacity of declaring the grim reality of what would be 750 deaths a day a "success" and horrified health experts  left with the option of viewing Tulsa's upcoming catastrophe as the dark gift of "a new virus laboratory" and officials agreeing to skip curfew 'cause a sick man is itching for a fight - despite all this, yeah Trump still traipsed to Tulsa, because he is a pathological narcissist whose mom and dad didn't love him and he needs the applause of strangers "to fill that empty space where his soul should be" and his handlers say he's been having sads but after the rally, "he's going to be in a much better mood," and we've become "a nation of therapists for a disturbed little boy in the White House."

In Tulsa, Trump's Jonestown-like followers don't care if he makes up AIDS vaccines or COVID cures or says gobsmackingly stupid things. To their fevered minds, writes Jeff Sharlet, he is "the great white hope...God's chaos candidate" representing a vast, crass America: "To deny him is to deny themselves." They believe Democrats are demons, perverts, murderers, pedophiles who eat children. These days, they also believe social distancing is part of a vast conspiracy, that masks are a symbol of fear and government control, that they're like Germans disobeying the Nazis, even unto death. In Tulsa, though, Trump met with other realities that give us hope. The night before, activists painted BLACK LIVES MATTER downtown. They put up a billboard blaring, "118,372 DEAD: I don't take responsibility," though it's now 121,000. They brought the Trump Death Clock mourning the 71,824 needless deaths - 71,717 when we started writing this - due to Trump's negligence, with a circling truck blasting their names and three well-placed billboards echoing them. On Twitter they got #Coronapalooza and #COVIDIOTS trending. And with, “I, Too, Am America: Juneteenth for Justice,” a racially diverse crowd wearing “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts in a long racially divided city celebrated the emancipation of slaves and "the idea of being black." Arguing, "You can't fix what you haven't faced," they also reflected a wide, deep, likely unbridgeable chasm from the aggrieved white crowd a short walk away, and so be it.  "Trump is going to be down there," said one calm, tenacious activist, pointing, "and we're going to be down here."

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