One Death

How Did One Death Do What 100,000 Couldn’t


Leonard Zwelling

         The funeral for George Floyd in Houston will be a solemn affair. The protests in response to his death at the hands of the Minneapolis Police started off peacefully, but it is likely that the peaceful protesters were infiltrated by extremists from the far right and the far left along with professional anarchists, small time hoodlums, and agitators on the payroll of Russia and China. I am sure the dark web was busy. These “outsiders” turned what could have been a moment of peaceful change into one of looting, burning and violence. It appears as of June 7, the peace has returned to the protests.

         Despite the president’s dire warnings about the use of “soldiers” to stop the rioting, the one thing that the protests surely did is unstick the stay-at-home movement promulgated by those unwilling to learn to live with the coronavirus. I share the concerns of public health officials that these protests are a breeding ground for the virus and I expect that within two weeks the case loads in the major city centers in which protests erupted will see a recrudescence of COVID-19, but, by golly, the dam has been broken on social distancing and we may learn just how infectious this virus is very soon.

         The one thing that George Floyd’s death has not done is given rise to substantial national leadership. Mr. Trump cleared out peaceful protesters from a park just so he could walk across the street from the White House and pose for a photo-op at a landmark church with the Bible. I do indeed wonder if he ever read any of that book. Doubtful. He also vowed to turn the U.S. military on the looters while preserving the Second Amendment rights of his supporters. This guy will say anything for a vote.

         As this blog recently stated, this is so reminiscent of the late 1960s that I am having a major episode of déjà vu. If only the music now was as good as it was then. Hey Jude, Piece of My Heart and The Weight were all released in 1968.

         The death of George Floyd has mobilized many Americans in a fashion not seen in a while and certainly not in response to the coronavirus where most Americans hunkered down awaiting some scientific proof that hunkering down was a good idea. About now it seems relatively obvious that:

  1. COVID-19 mostly kills the elderly and really rips through nursing homes. Thus the governors who sent sick people back to these nursing facilities made a major mistake. That’s you Governor Cuomo.
  2. It is a respiratory virus mainly transmitted through close personal contact.
  3. Masks help. Of course, N95 masks are better than the flimsy paper and cloth ones most of us have.
  4. Exposure dose (particle number times time of exposure) is the key metric of infectivity. That’s why the masks are essential and social distancing matters.
  5. Stay away from crowds. This has blown up in America where the pool parties persist and now protesters are marching arm in arm, some without face masks.
  6. Doctors and nurses have gotten much better at treating those who have contracted COVID-19. Survival rates among the sick will undoubtedly improve.

All that being said, there are more messages of racial solidarity than I have seen since the 1960s. Every leader of every institution has to make an electric statement about how they are not racists. Who said they were? But, that has to be a good thing even if it seems to be assuaging guilt on the part of white people. The country may actually be pulling together against racism and moving away from the lies and deceit of the current occupant of the Oval Office. The death of George Floyd might have done what the deaths of 100,000 Americans could not. Awaken the country to the evil in the White House.

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