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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Piece by piece, puzzling over a nation in crisis


   A strange time to be an explainer, someone in the put-the-pieces-together-to-see-the-big-picture business.
     These days the pieces just won’t go together. It’s as if someone dumped the 500-piece Dogs Playing Poker puzzle and the 1,000-piece Yosemite at Dusk puzzle and the 2,000-piece Grandma’s China Cabinet puzzle, mixed them all together in the center of the table and said, “Here, figure out THIS!”
     Are we the nation where cities like Chicago park salt trucks strategically, preparing to block off streets during the next, almost inevitable, chaotic social disorder? Or a nation about to fly a helicopter on Mars? We seem to be both, but those two pieces sure don’t mesh easily.
     Are we a nation of honed sensitivities, where people are free to manifest themselves and announce on their emails which personal pronouns they prefer?
     Or where popular TV pundits vomit up patently bigoted “replacement theory” poison in prime time, calmly explaining that every immigrant who becomes a citizen erodes his rights? Because those two pieces — one jumbo Elmo’s eye, one tiny white squiggle — aren’t even from the same puzzle box.
     Less than four years ago, we watched torch-bearing white supremacists march in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us” (“Yeah right,” Jews muttered back, “like we want to go live in your mother’s basement and tack a Nazi flag over her washing machine.”)
     That was chilling enough. Now the same sentiment is being blasted through the megaphone of Fox News.
     Are we that country? The Torch Parade puzzle? Or are we Masters of Medicine, the folks who excel at delivering COVID vaccination? As of this week, 36% of Americans have had at least one dose of COVID vaccine. Meanwhile, in Europe, the figure is only 21%. How can we be beating the land of socialized medicine, a utopia that includes both Sweden and Norway? Make sense of that.

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1 comment:

  1. A really good one, from the concept to the execution, which features some fine individual lines. The jigsaw puzzle analogy, the "Nazi flag in mother's basement" reference and this apt observation: "These Republicans keep truncating their sentences, blithely turning, 'Everything’s fine for me' into 'Everything’s fine.'"

    That last sentiment goes hand-in-hand, of course, with the accompanying whine that when things get *better* for other people, that can only be at the expense of them getting *worse* for those doing the whining. Such as the not-at-all-hypocritical, elite-bashing every-man Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson.


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