This isn't exactly a politically correct sentiment, but it's how I feel. There should be a statute of limitations on mourning the 2,996 people who died in the 9/11 attack twenty years ago.
I say this because our country has a nasty habit of getting all emotional about the wrong things. Or to put it differently, not getting all emotional about the right things.
Yes, it was a tragedy that so many people died and suffered as a result of the 9/11 attack. But the current number of Covid deaths in the United States is 659,556 -- 220 times the number who died on 9/11. Repeat: 220 times.
Currently Covid is killing people in the United States at the rate of a 9/11 every two days.
Where is the outrage at this? Where is the determination to hunt down those responsible for this carnage and stop them from killing so many Americans? Where are the voices demanding we put aside political differences and fight the killers with a united front?
Yes, the Covid deaths are caused by a virus, not humans. And plenty of people -- epidemiologists, health care workers, so many others -- have been treating the pandemic as the dangerous enemy that it is.
However, too many Americans, notably those Republicans/conservatives who love to wrap themselves in the flag when it comes to 9/11, have been acting like traitors when it comes to combatting Covid. They side with the viral enemy when they scoff at public health measures: vaccination, wearing a mask, social distancing, testing.
The root cause of 9/11 was a malevolent religious ideology, radical Islam. The root cause of our nation's flawed response to the pandemic is a malevolent political ideology, Trumpism.
Let's not be fooled by the 9/11 attackers being people, and the Covid attackers being viruses. Most of the United States Covid deaths could have been prevented if Trump and his enablers hadn't failed to do what urgently needed to be done to save lives.
A Lancet Commission report says 40% of U.S. Covid deaths could have been prevented. Deborah Birx, Trump's White House Covid coordinator, says hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved. A Brookings Institution conference said it was possible to avoid 400,000 deaths.
So I'm unapologetic about caring more about the unnecessary loss of hundreds of thousands of American lives during the pandemic, a toll that continues to increase by many thousands each week, than by less than 3,000 Americans dying on 9/11 twenty years ago.
I once worked as a health policy analyst.
My experience with bioethics made me well aware of how the dramatic, like a young child needing a liver transplant, captures the public's attention while much greater human suffering results from medical conditions that don't make the front pages of newspapers.
Our nation's obsession with 9/11 strikes me as similar.
The images of the planes hitting the twin towers is fresh in our minds, while we pay much less attention to the 9/11 happening every couple of days in hospitals, homes, and health care settings across the nation. If we truly care about human life, we should be focused on saving lives now, not mourning those who died in 2001.
It's as if our never-ending grief over 9/11 gives us permission to not feel as deeply as we should about the largely preventable misery of the Covid pandemic. By placing a hand over our heart as the national anthem plays at a sporting event on 9/11, the heartlessness of our country's botched response to Covid fades into the background of our supposed compassion.
Today I ignored all the talk about 9/11 on the airwaves and social media. I refuse to feel more badly about a tragedy that's long gone, than a much worse tragedy still ongoing.