The Ancient Greeks believed that magic was fraudulent, unconventional and dangerous.
The sudden, devastating spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has made us feel helpless and vulnerable. Our normal habits put us at risk, and science offers facemasks and social distancing as an anecdote. So some have turned to magic and conspiracy theories for comfort.
Rumors of “magical” cures of COVID-19 have spread like using white handkerchiefs, volcanic ash, cocaine, saltwater, cow dung, urine, methanol, vodka and saunas. All of these are click bait that tempt us to explore their “magic.”
A former White House staffer has described Donald Trump as “an 11-year-old boy waiting for the fairy godmother to bring him a ‘magic’ pill.”
Trump touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine, “It’s a powerful drug on malaria. And there are signs that it works on (coronavirus), some extraordinarily strong signs. … We have some incredibly good results and some incredibly good tests. One of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine.” This was all contrary to the trusted Dr. Anthony Fauci , one of our nation’s top immunologists, who said, “It can be lethal.”
In several countries, the local health authorities have felt forced to put out statements that dispute the misinformation and lies coming from Trump and his Republican toadies, especially concerning ingestion of disinfectant and taking hydroxychloroquine, the now newly expensive drug for treating lupus and arthritis.
Trump is also using Biblical expressions of magic: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
The Christian televangelist Kenneth Copeland performed a televised “magical” exorcism : ”I blow the wind of God on you. You are destroyed forever, and you will never be back. Thank you, God.” Copeland told those at home that they could be cured by touching their TV screens.
Irish columnist Fintan O’Toole observes, “religious providentialism (God will protect the good folks) … is now very deeply infused in the mindset of the American right (Republicans).”
The death of Bishop Gerald Glenn, pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Virginia, is particularly prophetic. Glenn defied the Virginia Democratic governor’s (an M.D.) guidelines about in-person worship services, saying , “I passionately believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus,” and saying he would continue to preach, “unless I’m in jail or in the hospital.” He later died of COVID-19. Four family members, including his wife, also contracted the virus.
Using pseudoscience, some companies and television personalities have fraudulently promoted “magical” cures. Actor Woody Harrelson has connected coronavirus pandemic to 5G cellphone towers. The right-wing talk show host Alex Jones claimed that his “SuperSilver” Whitening Toothpaste “kills the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range” until he was ordered to stop by the F.D.A. or be prosecuted.
Jennings Ryan Staley, M.D. and owner of a medical spa in California, was arrested for advertising “COVID-19 treatment packs” ($3,995 for four people) that he said would provide a “100 percent” cure- “a magic bullet.”
Americans have also turned to the magic of weaponry.
Flyovers by the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds are being used as “magical” spectacles.
Anti-lockdown protestors, not wearing masks and shoulder to shoulder, have brandished assault weapons in ritualized displays of strength. The guns become “magical” objects that symbolize virility and strength to counteract their feeling of helplessness and vulnerability.
With all the wealth and technology we have accumulated, this tiny, invisible virus is immune to our “magical” weaponry.
We are left playing coronavirus roulette.
If we are lucky, we will develop mild symptoms (rather than being killed by the virus), we have jobs we can do from home, and we live in communities with alert leaders who acted swiftly to contain the virus.
Or if we are unlucky, we live in communities with smug, lazy leaders who tell us that “it’s going to go away, one day, like a miracle” – no masks, no social distancing required.
More and more people are now seeing Republican leadership’s incompetence in the management of the virus, disregard for life, and its blatant misinformation.
Kudos to our Democratic governor, Andy Beshear and his Cabinet, who have managed this virus with resolve, use of scientific data, and the common sense required! #TeamKentucky
Marshall Ward is a Murray resident who is a member of the Democratic Party. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Murray Ledger & Times.