Donald vs Covid

This weekend, everyone’s favorite white nationalist fell ill to the very same disease he’s been denying for months. The ensuing schadenfreude amongst a few of us was so pure and rich, it could be melted into ingots. This sensation was then immediately met with some sharp tone policing that every minority member is familiar with.

Not to worry, this disease isn’t dangerous, it only kills people with preexisting conditions (America really needs to discuss this disturbing new strain of Calvinism that’s taken root here, but that’s another topic for another time), and everyone knows we’re not really people, so, Beloved Leader should bounce back in no time. As everyone with a chronic condition knows, the best treatment is to pretend that your problems don’t exist and power through them. Personal side note to any other cripples who might be reading this; wouldn’t it be amazing if the man who started his 2016 campaign by mocking a disabled reporter experienced permanent and severely reduced lung capacity? Wouldn’t it be amazing if he was reduced to coughing and sputtering whenever he tried to scream and shout? A man can dream. Alas, this blissful weekend of near-silence was not to last, and after a dose of dex (which I’ve personally experienced, and it’s not an enjoyable sensation), Beloved Leader was up and Twitting again, and making noise about getting back to the White House. No good thing lasts forever, I guess.

To my majority friends, I'm not sure anyone was acutely gleeful, this weekend. Some people probably were, but I did not hear from them. In order to understand the sensation I experienced, let me lay out a hypothetical, metaphorical event. Imagine a formal event of more importance than a bar mitzvah or confirmation, but less important than a wedding. Perhaps a graduation party or quinceanera. Or some extended family reunion for your great aunt's 105th birthday. Got it?

At this important-but-not-critical function, someone with a less-than-savory reputation shows up as a plus one. And he is AWFUL. He's never openly horrible, but boorish, argumentative, intolerant, and loud. He is never quiet, except during the most important parts of the ceremony. For the rest of the time, he loudly rants about "those people," gets into pointless arguments with your friends, and is generally awful enough to tarnish the event.

But he's never so awful that it warrants calling the police or simply tossing him out. He has carefully calibrated his behavior so it's barely acceptable. And he keeps at it all night, upsetting your friends and verbally bullying your family for no real point. Toward the formal end of things, as folks are packing up to go home or to myriad after parties; your favorite uncle, Sal (God love that rascal) reaches his limit and delivers a solid right hook to the boor that drops him like a sack of cement.

You're aware that police statements, emergency rooms, and legal proceedings are swiftly approaching. But, as silence rolls over the room, that's not the first thing that goes through your mind. The first impulse is, "I can finally hear myself think again." It's slight, momentary relief.

That's what happened this weekend - not schadenfreude, but, for the first time since January 20, 2017, America and all the diverse groups that comprise our nation, could think for a few uninterrupted moments. And we liked it.

Written by

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

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