Derryn Hinch

We’re Politicizing the Biggest Health Emergency in a Century

(Photo by Vera Davidova on Unsplash)

2020 has gifted us many grim events, but the selfish politicizing of an international pandemic surely takes the cake.

 

As an Australian, the Black Lives Matter movement is teaching me a lot. I did not know that America’s revered first president, George Washington, owned hundreds of slaves. I also believed he had dentures made out of wood when, I now read, those false teeth were comprised of real teeth extracted from those slaves.

That’s my ignorant confession, but how much do other Australians really know about the Black Lives Matter movement? How much do local athletes know when they “take a knee” in support? That thought raises some current important issues; from BLM, to sport, to COVID-19, and the wearing of face masks.

I truly think it is nuts that health protection, in the midst of the worst pandemic in 100 years, can have political connotations. Jesus wept.

I blame Donald Trump. He somehow turned the wearing of a face mask into a male virility issue. Forget the “pussy-grabbing” boasts, this was real man’s stuff.

And it has now drifted to Australia. Victoria, the most ravaged state, brought in compulsory mask-wearing from 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22. For good reason. The community spreading of the virus is truly scary. We have the worst daily figures, trotted out by Premier Andrews, ever. Worse than the “peak” in March and April.

 

I truly think it is nuts that health protection, in the midst of the worst pandemic in 100 years, can have political connotations.

 

And yet we saw dickheads (and I called them dickheads on Sunrise) babbling on about refusing to be “dictated to.” My civil rights. My personal freedoms. The same knuckleheads probably finished their fifteen seconds of fame on the telly, got in their car, and, dutifully, buckled up their seat belt. Don’t want to incur a fine for not wearing one, do we?

How the wearing of face masks became a political issue is bizarre. And, deliberately, President Trump, will keep pushing it as a political issue until the presidential election in November. I don’t know why. His handling of the COVID crisis has been pathetic. Scandalous.  It should see him defeated.

 

 

Nearly 150,000 Americans have died and yet their president, straight-faced, says the only reason their numbers are so high is because too many people are being tested. Real Monty Python stuff. Remember when in March he talked about “15 victims soon to be none?”

How can rational people argue against wearing face masks? Surely, you’d do anything that makes your country a smidgen safer. Speed limits? Seat belts? .05 in Australia? .08 in America?

I must admit, I have ranted on Twitter about the Australian government’s push to make your own masks. I do not own needle and thread or elastic. I do not intend to buy a headband and turn a sock into a mask – although a Twitter critic pointed out that I put my foot in my mouth often enough.

I go to the newsagent and pay $9 for 5 masks. I will confess to some anxiety when I flew from Melbourne to Sydney on business recently (and, as a Victorian leper, had trouble getting home) and my glasses kept fogging up because I had my mask on upside down.

But let’s get back to BLM. I support the cause and believe the real message here is “black lives also matter.” That applies here in Australia with our indigenous people as much as it does in the USA.

I was called a racist because I said the recent BLM protest marches in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane should not have gone ahead. It does not matter if four, fourteen, or forty people at those rallies were virus carriers. That day was the day that, I believe, Victoria lost its social soul. People were not fined, and I believe the message went out to all Victorians: “Stuff it.” If you can all breach social distancing rules, then, so can I. A Ramadan party, a visit to my Grandma. Game on.

That is why, I believe, people in Victoria are not taking the latest lockdown restrictions as seriously as the last time. A guy drives 30 kilometres to get a butter chicken at a favorite restaurant. “Karen from  Brighton” just has to walk in the Botanic Gardens. So do I, but you get my point.

They keep telling us that we are all in this together. Prove it.

 

Derryn Hinch

Derryn Hinch has been a journalist for 55 years. Worked in newspapers, radio and TV. Former editor The Sun in Sydney. Host of HINCH on 7 and 10 for six years. Jailed for naming paedophile priest, served 5 months under house arrest for naming serial sex offenders and jailed 50 days for contempt of court in 2014. Host HINCH Live on SKY. Sunday Night, Sunrise. Written 13 books.

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