Look at children, now in “pods” or “cohorts,” subject to “synchronous” classes that involve a teacher being there in real time (either in person or on video), and the less desirable “asynchronous” classes, meaning a prerecorded video or some posted assignment. This is Orwell territory. “Coronavirus,” all 11 letters of it, rolls off any child’s tongue.

Or look at the Skid Rows forming as businesses close and tourism dies, and try to consider a terrible thought — that a tribal America is so incapable of constructive debate that even a coherent response to a pandemic became impossible and masks are turned into a political statement.

And still the scream will not be released from lungs under constant scrutiny because it is all too much to bear. The pathogen hyper-inflates anxiety, 1930s style.

A friend, a naturalized American like me, writes from Austria: “I am baffled. I am shattered. I question my entire belief system, my trust in America, my darling adoptive country: Was I too naïve? Too idealistic? Too young? Too stupid? The hardest part for me to understand is not the one lunatic, not the one certifiably, wickedly twisted mind, but all of his enablers, all of his supporters. Who are they? How are so many of them even possible?”

They are possible because America-First nationalism is a heady drug for a nation past the zenith of its power, battered by forever wars and economic precariousness. They are possible because the Great Leader says your ugliest demons are in fact your greatest assets. Just look at me!

“It’s a rigged election. It’s the only way we’re going to lose,” Trump says. A pliant judiciary, a press he calls the “enemy of the people” tamed, a personal militia, a miraculous vaccine by November: He wants it all for his continuation. He’s got his son Donald Trump Jr. claiming Democrats “will add millions of fraudulent votes that can cancel your vote and overturn the election.” The disease runs in the family, you see. They want a corona coronation.

The time is out of joint. Wake up! See the duck for what it is. Vote. Register and vote. The Great Calamity is upon us.

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