Sunday, July 12, 2020

Trump, DeSantis Are Putting Our Kids' Lives At Risk To Help POTUS Get Reelected

COMMENTS FROM FLORIDA GOVERNOR Ron DeSantis this past week, as he continues to insist that schools should reopen amid rising cases of coronavirus in his state, are simply absurd, plain and simple.

DeSantis insisted that if certain businesses were allowed to open, including "big box" stores, that schools should have no problem doing so as well.

"If fast food and Walmart and Home Depot...if all that is essential, then educating our kids is absolutely essential," DeSantis insisted on Thursday.

There are two big problems with his comments. First, no one is saying educating children isn't an essential service. Of course kids need to be schooled — but do they need to be in a building in order to do that?

Ideally, yes, that should be how things go. But in the midst of a deadly pandemic, where nearly 140,000 Americans have already died from COVID-19 so far, limiting the further spread of the pandemic should be the first goal. Opening schools will invariably result in its further spread, in Florida and in any other state that reopens without implementing important rules and precautions.

The second problem with DeSantis's comments is that he makes a presumption of safety in those stores. Reading his words, you'd think the places he described are safe while open. That's hardly the case.

Across the country, big box stores are actually seeing coronavirus spread to workers (and likely to customers as a result), sometimes ending in deaths. Two workers in a Walmart in Chicago died; two more died in one in Colorado; a Costco employee died in Texas; a single Walmart store in Massachusetts saw at least 80 employees get infected; Target stores and other big box places have also reported numerous employees getting sick.

And while the examples listed above might not sound too daunting, consider this: they are just a small handful of cases I was able to find, in a short two-minute Google search, all occurring before May 1 of this year. Undoubtedly, more have gotten sick, and possibly died, since that time.

There is another consideration that has to be made about DeSantis calling for schools to reopen: comparing them to big box stores is a false equivalency. A person might go to one of those stores once a week for one, maybe two hours at a time (or at least, they should be going no more than that amount of time), but a student in a school goes to classes five days a week, for a period of several hours per day. The chances for spread are much higher for a kid than they are for anyone shopping at a big box store, if schools are reopened in the fall.

The notion that schools must reopen at this time, and indeed with as few guidelines in place as possible, is of course wholly political. It's an attempt to demonstrate a return to normalcy, that everything is fine, all to help President Donald Trump win a second term in office

How would that work, exactly? If the disease is still a problem in the fall, the president likely reasons, it will be seen as a failure on his part.

Which, of course, it is. But most Americans already understand that he's failed, in big ways, to lead during this crisis. Had he acted just one week earlier in March, for example, issuing out social distancing guidelines in the first few days of that month instead of toward the middle of it, a majority of deaths seen in this country so far could have been avoided

Not wanting to take responsibility for how coronavirus has spread under his watch, Trump is instead banking on Americans having short-term memory loss — that, if schools (and businesses, for that matter) reopen this fall, like they were before March, everything will be "back to normal," and he'll be seen as succeeding during this pandemic.

That idea, however, makes our nation's children guinea pigs for election year experiment. It should disgust every single American with a conscience.

It isn't as though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn't trying its best to allow schools to reopen, if local communities determine it's what they want to do. The CDC has even provided a set of guidelines for how to do so, to ensure student and faculty safety.

Those guidelines are too restrictive for Trump, however, who blasted them last week in a tweet insisting they needed to go away, threatening to remove federal funding toward schools that dared to implement them. 

Again, this is all in the name of him getting the country back to a way of being before the crisis began, so that he can take a victory lap come October and November.

The problem is, that victory won't come about, especially if schools don't take cautious measures to protect our kids this fall. Some students will die, in fact, especially if Trump gets his way, and the CDC measures are indeed rolled back.

Featured image credit: The White House/Flickr

Friday, July 3, 2020

It's Not Just Washington That Needs To Change Its Team's Name...

THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE team from Washington D.C. — whose name will be avoided as much as possible in this blog post — announced on Friday, along with the support from the league itself, that it will begin a "review" of the team's name, for being offensive to Native Americans and Indigenous People in the United States.

The pressure from Nike, FedEx, Pepsi, and other corporations seems to be the driving force behind the review.

For some, the writing is on the wall — a name change is inevitable.

From The Washington Post:
The team offered few details of what the review will entail, but one person familiar with the discussions between team owner Daniel Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other league officials said that the review is expected to result in a new team name.

“You know where this leads," the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They’re working on that process [of changing the name]. It will end with a new name. Dan has been listening to different people over the last number of weeks.”
This is a change that was needed decades ago. No group of people should be a mascot; what's more, to use a known derogatory term as that mascot name is doubly wrong.

This isn't just a "polite" thing to do. There are real-world implications and harms caused by such names existing. The use of Native American names and imagery as mascots causes damage in two ways, to two different groups of people, according to the American Psychological Association

Directly, it is discriminatory and causes psychological harm to Native American children. Such use of mascots "establishes an unwelcome and oftentimes hostile learning environment for American Indian students that affirms negative images/stereotypes that are promoted in mainstream society," the APA says.

Indirectly, it establishes and reinforces those stereotypes, too, to students who are not Native American. Mascots undermine "the educational experiences of members of all communities — especially those who have had little or no contact with indigenous peoples," says the APA. "The symbols, images, and mascots teach non-Indian children that it's acceptable to participate in culturally abusive behavior and perpetuate inaccurate misconceptions about American Indian culture." 

With these thoughts in mind, it's not just the team from Washington D.C. that needs to consider a name change — local school districts, too, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, need to halt the use of Indigenous People's names or imagery as team names.

There are really no more excuses to resist doing so. It was wrong then, and it's wrong now.

Featured image credit: Rich McFadden/Joint Base San Antonio