Jaws: The Shark Was The Monster, But Not The Villain


Leonard Zwelling

         It has been 45 years since it was safe to go into the water.

         But as Jennifer Weiner pointed out in The New York Times on July 8, the shark was not the villain. The shark was just being a shark. The villains walked on two legs and wouldn’t close the beaches. Dr. Hooper told them that the first victim was no more killed by a motorboat than the second one was. It took three deaths before the mayor allowed Chief Brody to close the beaches and look for a boat that was not big enough to stop the shark.

         Jaws is my idea of the best monster movie of all time because the monster was real, but the part of the bad guy was played by the people of Amity and their mayor trying to live in denial despite scientific fact that there was a predator in the waters surrounding the beaches.

         That’s where we are with the virus. Dr. Fauci and his allies are playing the Richard Dreyfus part. The virus is the shark. President Trump is the mayor and the Republican governors are the townspeople who fear that closing the beach until the shark is gone will hurt their businesses. Just as the fate of the beaches of Amity was politicized by the town’s leadership, the wearing of masks, the closing of businesses and the demand for social distancing has been politicized by Mr. Trump and his Republican allies. It’s as shameful as the scenario of Jaws and it’s not fiction.

         It is no accident that the rising case loads, hospitalizations and deaths in the Sunbelt are occurring in states with Republican governors who would rather deny science than protect their own people. I include Greg Abbott in this list as he cannot seem to make up his mind about what to do in Texas and is surrounded by nincompoops like Dan Patrick to boot.

         Europe has shown us what to do and I don’t mean Sweden which is reported to have gained nothing economically by opting to drive toward herd immunity rather than suffer from economic lockdown. Sweden suffered anyway with an economic down turn and more deaths than its neighbors.

         What to do is clear and it should be remembered because this virus is not gone.

         First, all activities indoors in closed spaces cannot go on. Period. Bars have to close. In-restaurant dining, too. No concerts. No sporting events. No crowds until we either get a vaccine or the caseload is controlled so it does not overwhelm the health care system. I get why some advocate the drive toward herd immunity among the young, but the young don’t keep the virus to themselves. They take it home and give it their parents and grandparents who cannot handle it as well.

         This was a time for America to lead. It had lead time that China did not have, but America blew it anyway and now we lead the world in covid-19 deaths. So much for American exceptionalism.

         America is in crisis mode. It cannot find leaders worthy of its great history and the two men running for president this year are really not worthy of the office. It’s a soul-searching time for us on issues of science, nature, race and wealth. There’s a monster out there and it’s not off shore. It’s right there on Main Street. To slay the monster we need to make sure our leaders are not the villains. We don’t need a bigger boat. We just need to row in the same direction with a great person barking “stroke.”

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