Do we humans have the power to set rules that ensure “life,” and that we can confidently insist no one must transgress?
I suggest here only that readers consider this question.
The two slices of 2020 we will approach it with don’t seem related, at least on the surface. I don’t propose to offer a fully concluded package, with answers and all the ends neatly tied off. I’m just going to present the two slices.
The first is Dr. Stella Immanuel’s now famous speech-let on hydroxychloroquine’s use for treating COVID-19. It became so famous so quickly that Big Social has universally banned the video. The social media sites will let you see all kinds of lying filth and nonsense, but they won’t let you see the video with Immanuel and her fellow “Front line doctors,” who had gathered to express their professional opinions, based on experience, abut HCQ and other methods for combating COVID-19.
I should start by stating that my own opinion has always been as follows: HCQ has been a safe treatment for malaria for decades, administered under a doctor’s care, and I see no justifiable reason to ban its use for COVID-19.
That doesn’t mean I think it’s a cure-all, or in fact a cure of any kind. It’s a treatment. It may not be for everyone; that’s often the case with treatments. The literature indicates it inhibits the coronavirus’s progress in taking over the lungs and compromising their function, and thus gives the body time to fight off the disease with its own immune system.
I’ve never seen any reason to change my mind about that. Meanwhile, what I have seen is a near-psychotic hatred that too often blazes up against HCQ in its opponents. Not all of them, but enough that it’s noticeable. They can’t talk about HCQ without knee-jerk agitation. Some of them get to the spittle-throwing level. HCQ apparently infuriates them. The less they actually know about it, the angrier it seems to make them.
The media have been unbalanced about HCQ, and seem to spin around between being all over the map about it, and being determined, for no apparent reason, to turn everyone against it. Whatever they do, however, they do without courage, but only under cover of being aligned with an in-crowd of opinion. They can’t bear being disagreed with.
These manifestations are not evidence of good faith or sober judgment. I can’t help but notice that. The practice of censoring any videos or media posts in which a case is made for using HCQ is the opposite of advocating for truth. That’s what you do when you’re determined to enthrone a lie.
So I wasn’t surprised that Dr. Immanuel’s words resonated. People pick up on the clues when a lie is being urged on them. The lie in this case would be that HCQ is something bad that we must all stay away from – as opposed to just being something that’s been used safely and effectively for years, and may or may not be effective for COVID, or at least for all COVID patients in their various situations.
These particular doctors lined up to say they had found it to be effective. That’s not scary. It’s a data point for intelligent people to weigh.
I heard on the radio Thursday morning that the video of the “Front line doctors,” and I believe it was especially the clip of Immanuel, had broken a record by being viewed more than 18 million times in a very short span. As arresting as Immanuel’s words were, with her strong personality coming through, I still thought that was remarkable.
An opinion piece by journalist Celia Farber put it in perspective for me, however. I’ll let you read it for yourself to get the full effect and where she’s coming from. What struck me was Farber’s appreciation of these words from Dr. Immanuel: “It works [said Immanuel, speaking of HCQ]. So right now, I came here to Washington DC to say, America, nobody needs to die.”
Says Farber: “This sentence, of Dr. Immanuel’s, is extremely important. ‘Nobody needs to die.’”
Farber’s overall point is that the media, the experts, the culture – all have been talking death to us for the last six months, under the guise of pretending to talk life. But it’s not life they’re talking.
It’s fear. What they retail is fear. Their prescription for clinging to life is being afraid of everything all the time.
We’ve all seen it: it’s not just about social distancing and wearing masks and not opening the schools this fall. It’s chirpy “lifestyle” puff pieces about how our future is going to change irrevocably because of this one disease. No more shaking hands. No more brick-and-mortar shopping. Church is iffy for the time being. Sports will never be the same. We’ll be moving the cultural affect of the city out into the country, because we can’t actually live cheek-by-jowl any longer (danger; fear) but it’s important that we not change mindsets and act like we’re really not on top of each other anymore (evil, supremacist suburban sense of latitude and independence).
The self-appointed opinion-makers are way too invested in shaping the future around COVID-19, instead of defeating it. What people sense about that is that it’s about enforcing a mode of “death in life”: robbing people of choice, keeping them forever at risk as the price of avoiding their demise today.
Immanuel, by vivid contrast, spoke life to America in the “Front line doctors” video. Celia Farber had this reaction: “She was like a bolt of lightning splitting an old dead tree. We were dying, from lack of any words of hope spoken over us. And this was precisely the surprising feeling, that came over me as I listened to her: I felt hope.”
Farber quotes some more Immanuel, from one of Immanuel’s sermons (she’s a pastor as well as a physician):
It’s [COVID’s] not just a physical battle it’s also spiritual. Why do I say that? The fear that has been released is bigger than the disease. There’s also what I would call a veil of darkness over the minds of people. That you can tell somebody something and they listen to you but somehow it just doesn’t sink in. It’s like there’s a veil over their minds. Sometimes I feel like there’s a bewitchment over the minds of people I pray that that bewitchment will be broken over America. We need to speak good about this country. A lot of us Americans have cursed the nation. We speak bad over the nation. We need to start speaking good that “we’re going to be OK” that “we’re gonna do well,” “America’s going to live! We’re not gonna die!” Just use your mouth, the power of life and death is in your tongue. There’s no need to fear. This disease has a cure. Let it really sink in your head that this disease has a cure and it has a prevention. We’re going to be OK. You got to believe that and speak that over your family. And if I can pray, is that OK?
About the principle of this, Immanuel is spot-on.
And as Farber puts it, quoting Hunter S. Thompson, “Down came … ‘the million-pound sh**hammer’” on Stella Immanuel.
The Daily Beast jumped in to save the day with a mocking piece on Immanuel and some of her more exotic teachings about demons. You’ve probably heard them by now. Read them for yourself (the link is in Celia Farber’s piece); I don’t defend them or subscribe to them.
But I do notice this. Dr. Immanuel manages to speak life when others don’t. Are we really going to reject the message of life and hope because it doesn’t come with conventional fear labels all over it, from someone who’d never say anything controversial, or who satisfies the self-defined orthodoxy of intellectual limits we’ve been incubated in for the last 500 years?
What if we are the problem, when speaking life is too “controversial” for socially approved people to do it? Do we seriously think we know so much that we can turn off the water for our spirits that speaking life is, and try to hang onto life by speaking a hot desert wind: i.e., what our culture knows of limitations, fears, and death?
Are we really doing so well at the moment that we can take pride in continuing to nurse our self-justified fears? How’s that actually working out for us?
All I see is an official “narrative” about the virus that bends to politics at literally every turn, and otherwise changes by the week, if not the day. Science? Sure, if science is managed by the needs of politics.
Meanwhile, we can’t trust a single one of the numbers we’re constantly bombarded with, much less the interpretations that are put on those numbers, which shift around depending on what aspect of the “narrative” is being emphasized.
Even talk of a vaccine isn’t speaking life. It’s just putting a schedule on the waypoints of fear. I emphasize that I’m not opposed to a vaccine at all (although I reserve the right not to trust everyone who says he’s got one. I can’t see the slightest reason for listening to Bill Gates on the subject of vaccines).
But the vaccine talk doesn’t resonate with people, because it is so manifestly not about winning life back, but about putting life beyond our reach for now.
If you know the God of the Bible, ask yourself: is this ever how He talks about life?
And if you’re well-versed in empiricism, ask yourself this: has an honest empirical approach ever given us reason to believe that we humans know everything, and that nothing is ever happening that we don’t understand, and yet must navigate through anyway – in spite of not being omniscient about it?
The only way to speak life with resonance and truth is to speak it with humility, and not to assume that it is ours to rebuke, browbeat, and set life-altering rules for others. Consider that we still haven’t decided exactly how this virus came among us – yet we’ve all but decided not to ever investigate that to a conclusion, because it’s politically explosive.
Talk about being whipsawed by fear. Don’t even bother trying to pretend that’s a basis for having better truth “about the virus” than the larger moral truth that speaking life is always superior to speaking fear – no matter “who” is doing the speaking.
The second slice to ponder is a much shorter one. In fact, I’ll just present it in a couple of tweets from Thursday morning (one of them is mine). I think the meaning will be clear.
Still thinks the Union holds……🙄
The Democrats are executing a full Cloward Pivens attack.
Wake up!!! https://t.co/B19ZrzQs5M
— Rich Higgins (@RichHiggins_DC) July 30, 2020
This is increasingly the point.
It takes no votes in Congress to attack America. Much of the means of attack IS some part of govt apparatus.
It takes 60 votes in the Senate to defend America – especially when courts handcuff POTUS.
Are we seeing the problem yet? https://t.co/ZKvnRroQoT
— J.E. Dyer (@OptimisticCon) July 30, 2020
As with our cultural orthodoxy and the virus, our political orthodoxy has us dealing death to ourselves. The insidious threat of the Cloward-Piven strategy, with its pivotal method of holding the “system” to its standards, isn’t mostly about things like how much we can “afford” to honor our open-ended monetary commitments, or equality commitments, etc.
That stuff is easy to foresee. You can overwhelm the “system” with too many “problems” all at once: welfare cases, diseases, race grievances, riots. That’s where our minds go first, when we think of overstressing the system.
But the real pressure points are the points of principle on which we know – or at least think – that we will undo ourselves, if we fail in respect of them.
For Mitch McConnell, it’s those 60 votes in the Senate: 60 votes that at this moment in history have kept us from defending America for 30 years. And there’s a sense in which he’s not wrong – as long as we cling to the notion that what we’re in is a conventional political fight by Marquis of Queensberry rules. If that’s how the fight is really shaped today, we need to preserve that 60-vote convention, even if it means losing a lot, little by little.
But that’s so obviously not the mission of the attackers on America, it’s hard to know what to do for people who can’t see it. That isn’t the fight we’re in today. That’s why the 60-vote convention isn’t winning any battles for us.
Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep it. It means we’re fighting the battles on the wrong terrain.
I submit that for a lot of NeverTrumpers, meanwhile, the inhibiting convention is judgment based on those standards of personal moral history that keep them at odds with Trump, and wholly unable to see that something more important is going on. We should let America be destroyed because Trump, the only force standing against it, is an imperfect sinner in flamboyant and unseemly ways (as opposed to the less visible ways so many of us can rejoice in)?
You have to torture language, logic, and conscience to pretend that Trump’s imperfections have actually conducted America down an evil path. The evil that men do around us right now is all on them: they’ve had the propensity for it for years, and the only effect Trump has had is to reveal what they really are. If not for Trump, we wouldn’t see it, and people wouldn’t be waking up to the need to repudiate it.
In 2020, speaking 60-vote conventions, and speaking checklist judgments against a single man over hope and reality for 330 million, is a way of speaking death to ourselves, as surely as all our socially approved virus-talk is. We should perhaps consider the possibility that our eyes are not as clear as we think they are, and we don’t know as much.
If the culture rules us, we are a people who let fear be our guide to “life.” We can’t speak life out loud, for fear of being thought foolish and controversial.
But Stella Immanuel can speak life out loud, something the Daily Beast will never have the power to do. And Donald Trump walks life every day, in spite of all that comes against him, bestrewing the path with incendiary tweets. They’re weird, these two. But life burns through from them like a blowtorch. Their language is not the dead end of fear. Their language is not death. Food for thought.