In his 2013 best-seller “Spillover” (subtitle: “Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic”), David Quammen used quotation marks to introduce “superspreader” to the reading masses.
Wholly unneeded keystrokes now -- the meaning self-evident -- I doubt a single Republican flinched to see Trump rallies denounced as superspreader events, because they were, unapologetically so.
To that category add the recent CPAC spread-fest and boos for the word “masks.” Add a certain Jan. 6 rally and riot. And to the list now, add the state of Texas.
One could quibble semantically, since Quammen’s definition is meant for a party of one “who directly infects far more people than does the typical infected patient.”
So, award the title to Greg Abbott.
By dropping any pretense of fighting the spread of the disease with state mandates, Texas’ governor has done his part to assure that the pandemic, like March, will not recede with a whimper.
It wasn’t going to anyway, despite the false sense of security underlying the loosening of restrictions. The virus will just be that much more recalcitrant because of policymakers more interested in commerce than lives lost.
It’s not too late, however, to dent the tide of suffering. To that end, I have a special request for New Mexico.
Build a wall – at the town of Texline, if nowhere else.
Texline, on U.S. 287, is the sleepy gateway where the Lone Star State cedes northward to the Land of Enchantment.
Texline means much to me. Growing up in Colorado with kin down south (both parents born in Texas) the state-line marker in Texas’ sandstone image staged countless family photos.
Later I got a newspaper job in my folks’ home state, and it served the same purpose for my children when we traveled north.
Now I live in Colorado, and it is a threat to us all that people who might boo masks are traveling up U.S. 287 to pack the ski lifts during spring break.
It also is alarming that young people without a care heard the “all clear” from Abbott and will make the reverse trip down 287 from up north, headed for Texas’ beaches and all that aerosolized merriment.
Dear New Mexico: Stop this before it’s too late.
Nothing grand needed, nothing worthy of Donald Trump’s signature. Just a chain-link fence, and a yellow-and-red “We take pandemics seriously” sign with the state insignia.
Texas is not taking it seriously. Abbott gave lip service to “personal vigilance” against the disease. He knows, however, that his directive has promoted just the opposite.
He knows that people will die so that cash registers will ring.
In my time in Texas I interviewed Abbott several times as state Supreme Court justice and attorney general. I never thought of him as a goon.
When given a chance to explain his rationale for this decision, however, he sure came off like one.
He didn’t even attempt to defend it on health-policy grounds. When asked about President Biden’s rightful criticism of it, he said Biden “is bringing illegal immigrants into the state of Texas and then releasing them” -- them and their germs.
Abbott clearly has learned the art of deflection at the knee of the master – he whose irresponsibility as president was and is central to the fates of more than 500,000 dead Americans and so many more who suffer today.
By contrast, Joe Biden is doing everything he can to save lives.
The galling thing about the debate about masks is that there’s even a debate. The bottom line about mask-wearing is that it shows you care about your fellow man. Supposedly that’s what Christians do.
Regardless of where you live and what your governor has said or done, wear one.
And New Mexico, build that wall.
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