The Glass Between Words

Two statements. Heard across time. Staring across time. A glass in between.

“..repeatedly try to undermine & create public distrust in Dr. Birx.”

That’s the statement from Alyssa Farah, the Director of Strategic Communications for POTUS 45. She’s responding to remarks made by Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi criticizing Dr. Deborah Birx, a key member of POTUS 45’s team responsible for dealing with Covid-19. Farah’s statement was made on August 1-2, 2020.

…”weakening (of) confidence in the Army Medical Corps and the Red Cross Nursing Corps to destroy military and civilian morale.”

That’s the statement from an official working in the Office of the Surgeon General, an agency in the Administration of POTUS 28. The official’s assertion was in reaction to widely circulating false reports that German spies were spreading influenza in American military camps along the east coast. The official’s statement appeared in a North Carolina newspaper on October 24, 1918.

I offer you this pair of statements not to condemn or condone specific people. Instead, I offer the pair as startling proof of the extent to which the pandemics of 2020 and 1918 resemble each other in how the American people communicated their perceptions and experiences to each other. Americans absorbed the crises of the pandemics as part of and as expressions of the dominant issues and trends at the time—in 1918 it was the World War One (hence, German spies entering US military posts) and in 2020 it is the World War Trump (hence the Speaker’s singling out of a high-level Trump official).

The pandemic didn’t simply exist by itself in 1918 any more than it does in 2020. It inhabits an environment, interacts with that environment, and reshapes and remakes this environment. We must recognize that biology and biological factors are only segments of the crisis. The American body politic has at least as great a role to play in understanding the broader tolls and strains of the pandemic.

The realization that these pandemics take on the look of whatever is consuming American life is something I’ve termed “Warfluenza.”

It’s like looking through a glass that doesn’t separate or reflect. Look through this special glass and you’ll be transmitted, transported. Contact me at 317-407-3687 to begin your journey across the glass.

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