This week, the Atlantic Studies Podcasts of Note blog provides links to numerous episodes on diverse topics for scholars of the Atlantic World, including recent episodes on indigenous labor, commodities, African philosophy, the Declaration of Independence, and the world of Shakespeare. As well, due to the many public history questions of the past week regarding monuments and the Fourth of July, the Remembrance of Past Podcasts section is full of numerous other episodes that will be of some interest to Atlantic scholars of commemoration, race, and nation. As well, this week again saw a United States and much of the Western world beaten down by a virus that rages out of control in many regions, especially those with dismissive and populist leadership.
Whether they are willing to believe it or not, Americans are living in a nation tortured into medical chaos by a failure of communication. In this new world, I see an intense and neglectful failure of leadership. I see sociopaths on stolen lands preaching nonsense to sycophantic ears. I see the work of the brave, sacrificial, and strong being overwhelmed by the selfishness of the stupid, nefarious, and wealthy. I see workers sent to their essential jobs, to greater risk of death, as the rich find new ways to hide, stockpile, and collect. I see a failure of optimism, an early acceptance of a new normal that kills too much. I see a need for a new and greater depression; a need for an emotional reassessment of the horrors we are facing.
I see images of what covid wards look like. I see ventilators, body bags, and caskets. Maybe we all need to see them more. Holding on to hope that the falling death rate is not a fluke of the time lag is not enough of a lifeline. We need more from our leaders; maybe it is time to truly show the extent of the disaster. Maybe optimism should go on its own summer vacation, maybe blood dripping from lips above drowning lungs should be the images of the summer. Maybe fear, fear itself, should mark our actions, creating a renewed empathy from a deep dread of death and dying.
The visions of crowded beaches and parties on July 4th, like those of Memorial Day before them, are absolutely nauseating. Young people “loving their freedom” are lengthening this pandemic and ruining the lives of those they encounter. It has never been about their own personal freedom to infect themselves, that is their right to be idiots; it will always be about whether they have the freedom to infect others, and others, and others, which they should not. These callous young adults are now increasingly to blame; they generally know what they are doing. It is no longer an issue of ignorance. It is a known choice. Those at parties and bars are choosing drunken moments of revelry at the expense of the public health.
Not only are the young drinkers increasingly to blame. The GOP will be remembered for their immense failures at the helm of the federal government, and within numerous states now facing massive outbreaks. For pushing against masks informally and formally, for rushing reopenings, for framing lockdowns as a constitutional issue rather than a public health necessity, for supporting large rallies and suing those who want to control the spread, for systematic silencing of public health experts, for informal silencing of public health discourse through weaponized far-right trolls. We notice the tricks of language, the false equivocations, defending treasonous statues instead of lives, the constant accusations and scapegoating. The majority now notices. Silent or otherwise. If we live, we will remember.
This November, the polls should not reflect that “it's the economy, stupid.” The results, even with vast voter suppression campaigns underway, should reflect that people are sick of their lives constantly threatened by a virus that most of the world has now been able to minimize at great loss of blood and treasure. We have lost more blood, we have lost more treasure, and yet our threat grows evermore. Even with Q making his ridiculous way through the Republican primaries, reason will find a way to the polls again, as life and death are ever-presently on the line, and existential threats have to wake up voter’s logic, or at least their survival mechanisms.
New discourses must be created to displace the denialists and incentivize keeping the young and others indoors. Above all, it needs to be trumpeted that this virus is killing people of all ages. As well, the more time given to the smart and brave, the better we will all be to face this virus if it hits our households. It is better to be a covid patient now than in March. It will be better to be a covid patient as nearly every week passes than the week before. This is because doctors are learning new strategies and scientists are repurposing drugs for better treatment. As such, those who say “I might as well catch it” are complete morons. Firstly, because you may be able to acquire the virus twice, and, secondly because treatment is improving each week.
This is not simply about waiting for a vaccine. That timeline can seem daunting; six more months indoors, maybe a year more of social distancing. It is important to try to not think in such terms. Rather, know that treatment is improving each day. And because of that, we need to distance now, to give each and every person we encounter the best chance to beat this virus. Do not give up. Do not overwhelm the hospitals. Give empathy a chance. Our grandparents fought fascism and rationed for years during the Great Crusade. You just need to stay inside. Once again. Do some sit-ups, watch a movie, it is not difficult.
So, stay inside, because a disease you may die of today you might escape in a few weeks.
So, wear a mask, because a disease you may give to a sick or elderly person today, they may be able to survive in a few weeks.
So, quit being optimistic about the moment in which you are living. Give up your power grab on life for a while. Be optimistic that if you give up something in this moment, you may create millions of moments in the future by not infecting yourself or others.
Stay inside, wear masks, socially distance, and quit thinking that you just want this to be over so much that you give up. You are stronger and smarter than just giving up and giving in. Provide the geniuses of our world time to figure out how to solve this problem. Do not burden them anymore with selfishness.
Atlantic Studies Podcasts of Note:
1) New Books Network – Mining Language: Racial Thinking, Indigenous Knowledge, and Colonial Metallurgy in the Early Modern Iberian World – Allison Bigelow
2) Dig Podcast – Hot for Chocolate: Aphrodisiacs, Imperialism, and Cacao in the Early Modern Atlantic
3) History of African Philosophy – African Personality – Edward Blyden
4) My History Can Beat Up Your Politics – The Man in the Cave and Other Stories of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence
5) New Books Network – Mapping Shakespeare: An Exploration of Shakespeare’s World Through Maps – Jeremy Black
This Day in History Class:
7/2/1839 – Amistad Rebellion/ Patricia Lumumba Born
Remembrance of Past Podcasts:
New Books Network also posted an interesting episode on Reconstruction and African American ideas of citizenship through an interview on Soul Liberty: The Evolution of Black Religious Politics in Postemancipation Virginia by Nicole Myers Turner.
With stolen land on liberatory minds due to the President’s Mount Rushmore performance, this blog also points to another interview from New Books Network from this week regarding Collision of Worlds: A Deep History of the Fall of Aztec Mexico and the Forging of New Spain by David Carballo.
As well, in tune with the ridiculous discourse on monuments from the previous week, New Books Network also posted an interview on Confederate Exceptionalism: Civil War Myth and Memory in the Twenty-First Century from Nicole Maurantonio.
Atlantic scholars may also find the New Books Network interview on The Age of Phillis from Honoree Fanonne Jeffers of importance concerning the remarkable life of Phillis Wheatley Peters.
For another interesting episode on discourse and the manipulations of history, Stuff You Missed in History Class focused an episode on “Why No One Talks About ‘The Irish Slaves’.”
As well, with the meanings of the Fourth on many minds, Ben Franklin’s World posted an episode on “Whose Fourth of July,” with attention to the famed Fourth speech of Frederick Douglass.