In a Monday tweet celebrating his release from the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, President Trump wrote: “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!” He followed it with this similarly upbeat video statement:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2020
The response to this tweet was characteristically unhinged in a way that speaks to the primary motivator of corporate media coverage of the virus: fear.
Media lose their shit over Trump's optimistic Covid tweet pic.twitter.com/SmLHHggZlW
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 5, 2020
Twitter quickly promoted another ResistAnon vertical trending conspiracy theory:
The author of — you can’t make this up — “The Opposite of Hate” wrote:
One of the chief anti-Trump hysteria-mongers in existence — and that’s a competitive position — wrote:
This was a particularly distasteful tweet, like many similar responses politicizing a good man’s death:
Just substitute any other malady that has killed many people and see if the responses make any rational or charitable sense. Trump: “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of cancer!! Don’t let it dominate your life.” Or: “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of AIDS!! Don’t let it dominate your life.”
Trump’s statement is the stuff of inspirational books written by athletes or motivational speakers or celebrities who encountered a serious health concern. Only because he’s Trump is he treated this way. You can see that in this recent Fox retrospective of Democrats downplaying coronavirus early on. Their comments are not held against them now, but Trump’s still are. We all know why that is.
They weren’t saying that a while back pic.twitter.com/GJOlYRzd7A
— Mario bet (@BetancourtMarai) October 5, 2020
In his discussion of Trump’s celebratory hospital-release tweet, Wolf Blitzer made the message explicit: “Everyone should be afraid of COVID.”
First of all, this stance is factually questionable. Being afraid of COVID does not kill or retard it. Taking reasonable and prudent measures does. One does not need to be afraid to oppose coronavirus. In fact, excessive fear will cripple the critical thinking necessary for responding appropriately to this threat.
And that is the subtext at play here. The subtext is that if people simply follow their reason, and pay close attention to the objective facts about COVID-19, perhaps they would make different choices than when scared out of their minds about it. So we can’t have people prudent about COVID, or rational about COVID, or thoughtful, or courageous about COVID. That does not produce the social outcomes that these people want. Being scared of COVID does.
Fear seems to motivate different behaviors related to COVID than does information, facts, and rationality. If Americans were less afraid, then more schools would be open for more effective in-person instruction, for one thing.
Out of 70,000+ positive reported COVID-19 cases on Universities:
0 deaths pic.twitter.com/yIbIfI69uJ
— Dr. Simone Gold (@drsimonegold) October 5, 2020
As I pointed out yesterday, the odds for President Trump’s recovery were a lot better than most people would guess based on what they’ve been told by the likes of The Atlantic, The New York Times, CNN, CBC, MSNBC, The Washington Post, and all the rest of the media Deep State. Of those who contract COVID-19 in his age grouping, their 70s, the Centers for Disease Control estimates 94.6 percent will live through it. That’s very good news.
But we haven’t been given good news in a very, very long time. Why might that be? The nation could clearly use it. The only answer is that irrational fear serves a useful political purpose.
Second, the “fear COVID or you’re evil” stance is morally questionable. We all feel fear, of course, and we can’t completely control it. But we can control what we do in response to our feelings. We can confront and work through our fears, and try to slowly acclimate ourselves to things we’re afraid of that we shouldn’t be. We can work to diffuse our fear by better attaching ourselves to reality.
In times of fear and heightened danger, good leaders have always told their people to take heart. It is a leader’s duty to do so, in fact. Would the nation really be in a better place if Trump acted like the media did, panicking about every possible horror scenario or frightful event? He’d be a simply awful president if he did that. It’s part of a leader’s job description to project confidence amid chaos. Otherwise, the chaos wins.
In a much, much worse time, the great Winston Churchill filled the world with anti-fear statements like these:
It would be foolish to disguise the gravity of the hour. It would be still more foolish to lose heart and courage. After this battle in France abates its force there will come the battle for our Islands, for all that Britain is and all that Britain means. In that supreme emergency we shall not hesitate to take every step — even the most drastic — to call forth from our people the last ounce and inch of effort of what they are capable …Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: ‘Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.’
Fear is the enemy of a free people because fear makes self-government impossible. It clouds our judgment and makes it even more difficult to do what has to be done.
Note well those who encourage it. Consider their ultimate goals, and the effects of listening to them. Then stop up your ears (or lash yourself to the mast), keep calm, and carry on.