America’s Next Threat: The #Klandemic

Michael Francis
Apr 24, 2020 · 6 min read
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The #Klandemic: Bringing guns to a virus fight. (Image Credit: The Daily Beast/Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty)

Full disclosure: I saw that word twice on social media these past days, so I make no claim as to its creation. I stand in gratitude and appreciation for how perfect a word it is.

Over the past few weeks, a few things have become clear: COVID-19 has a mortality rate that likely falls below 1%, curves and counts are flattening in the U.S. as our social distancing measures pay off — this pandemic, though severe, doesn’t represent an existential threat, to health, or to economy, in a way we feared it might in it’s early days. We will prevail.

Or will we?

This past week has shown another interesting, exhausting story develop: a number of groups protesting state mandated social distancing measures. From Ohio, to Michigan, and elsewhere, crowds have gathered to protest their perceived loss of freedoms at state capitals and hospitals around the country. It is of their belief that our reaction to the Coronavirus is many steps too far — medical advice be damned — and that their demands to life as usual fall in line with the constitution.

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Because “I don’t believe in science” isn’t nearly as catchy. (Image Credit: Sky News)

If their protest signs are to be believed, their right to a haircut, to throw down some Applebee’s apps, or even to sacrifice the weak, are constitutionally protected. Other’s rights to reasonable safety during a public health crisis? Ignored. If you don’t like it, if you’re scared, stay home, they say.

What to call such a group? They openly defy the advice of medical professionals who’s only agenda is to limit the spread and harm of COVID-19. They gather in large, loud groups demanding their anti-science position is accepted and enforced, to hell with the majority that disagree. They march, proudly displaying their willful ignorance, protest signs littered with errors of spelling and logic. Enter the perfect proper noun: introducing the #Klandemic.

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Late stage capitalism, colorized 2020. (Image Credit: Raw Story)

They are justified, they say, because the economic hardship of a prolonged quarantine will cause more suffering and loss of life than “a bad case of the flu”, or whatever factually incorrect parallel they’re making today.

Here’s the thing: they’re right.

A prolonged period of social distancing and quarantine, putting tens of millions out of work and reliant on government stimulus, will almost certainly lead us into an economic crisis with a severity well outside most any historical or predicted models. Make no mistake — the economic fallout from this pandemic could be devastating. It’s entirely conceivable that the economic fallout could be as bad or worse than a virus with a mortality rate not reaching 1%.

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How to Start an Economic Crisis. (Image Credit: Markus Winkler/Unsplash)

But here’s the other thing: the only way this ends with total economic collapse is if people don’t stay the fuck home. Pardon the language, but it’s important that we grasp the gravity of the situation.

So the members of the #Klandemic, let me tell you, I hear you. I understand. I get it. Being stuck at home sucks. Being reliant on the government sucks. Eating my cooking instead of Applebee’s sucks. Not being able to go to work sucks. (Okay, that’s a lie, I’m actually loving all of my newfound freedom, but I understand why if you don’t have an identity beyond your job, you’d be eager to get back to it.)

I want it to end too. I fear the economic fallout as well — maybe more so, in that my finance degree has me feeling some sort of way while I watch the debt pile up and tax revenues tumble during this interruption.

Here’s the thing: if we race back to normality now, we’re going to have a bad time. We are going to see more and more major cities go through what New York had to go through. We are going to see the virus pop up again and again, even in cities that it already hit, as infection rates remain relatively low.

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We’re all tired. None of us want this. (Image Credit: Jusdevoyage/Unsplash)

If we ignore medical advice now, we will have to close down again later. And again. And again.

America is a resilient country. Being the richest country to ever exist is a big part of that, but as a people, we have shown the ability to rise from the ashes and rubble, and put hardship behind us with an impressive efficiency. (Sometimes, in cases such as Sandy Hook, we are able to move on a little too easily.)

But we will prevail. Why? Because in times of crisis, we’ve always become Americans again. Political lines have always dissolved when it mattered most. On September 12, 2001, there weren’t Republicans and Democrats so much as there were pissed off Americans.

And as Americans, we will prevail here too.

In the constitutionally protected pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, the lives of many come before the liberty and happiness of a few.

It’s not theory. Other countries have gone through more severe lock downs, and been fine. Countries have been able to roll out expansive testing and tracking, and are already on their way to getting business open. There are entire economies that are all but out of the woods.

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Because wearing a mask for 20 minutes is exactly the same as being forced to carry a child for 9 months. (Image Credit: Vice News)

We can do that to — if we unite. Not behind a president, or politician, or idea, or agenda, but behind simple science and reality. The economic fallout should not be ignored. That’s a reasonable stance. But until we have this bug at least a little contained, ignoring that it exists will only serve to send us back to our residential jails over and over again, and deeply worsen the coming economic recession.

It is for that reason that, as my fear of the consequences of COVID-19 have fallen, my fear of the #Klandemic has grown.

Usually ignorance is not dangerous — or if it is, it’s in the most indirect of ways. With exception to terrorism and hate spawned from a limited understanding of the world, ignorance is usually not more than frustrating. During election years, it’s regressive to human progress.

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Reasons not to cut education spending. (Image Credit: Jason Connolly of AFP)

But right now, ignorance is a direct danger to American society. The ignorant may — and often times have — becomes carriers of a deadly pathogen. The ignorant promote an agenda that flies in the face of science, and serves only to prolong the conditions they are protesting. The ignorant take to crowded streets to show they aren’t scared of this virus.

But in doing so, they show they’re the most scared of all: while reasonable people sit with their anxieties from the protection of their homes, we are dragged further into the economic hole being dug by those who have already lost control of reason and logic to fear.

The #Klandemic must be resisted at every step. Organizers must be cited. It should go without saying that, in the constitutionally protected pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, the lives of many come before the liberty and happiness of a few.

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Haircuts: the new constitutional debate rages on. (Image Credit: Raw Story)

I suspect there is some amount of wisdom in that it was put in that specific order. Life first. Then liberty. Lastly comes haircut and Applebee’s inspired happiness.

Unite with science. Stand with America. Resist the #Klandemic.

Follow Michael Francis on Medium and Twitter for more, as well as on Facebook and Instagram for short video summaries of articles.

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