Compassionate Conservative

A column in The Times by Bret Stephens got POTUS’s attention recently. There is conjecture that it may have contributed to the “cure-worse-than-the-disease” propaganda that trumpets against efficient pandemic control.

My mom puts the groceries away and we sit down to talk on her patio, keeping our chairs far apart. She didn’t think much of my last column, in which I argued that we need to balance the public-health risks of pandemic against the risks of a global depression.

“I don’t remember your degree being in medicine or epidemiology,” she observes.

Stephens is a thoughtful, informed, and sensitive voice for conservatism. I sense that he is offsetting here what may have been his inadvertent contribution to fostering indifference to the virus’s potential toll on the more vulnerable segments of the population.

So I sit on my mom’s patio and listen. Not out of filial deference or compassion, but because deep down I know there’s usually more wisdom in my mother’s instincts and perceptions than there are in my clever (or not-so-clever) concatenations of facts, concepts and hypotheticals. And while I can’t hug her, I can at least try to honor her by paying close attention — as we should all of our elderly loved ones, now so vulnerable, never more precious [my bolding].

Stephens’s mother is a Jewish refugee born in Milan who fled Nazi control of northern Italy.

(Bret Stephens, “In This Emergency, Mom Knows Best,” NYTimes, 3-27-20)

(c) 2020 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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5 Responses to Compassionate Conservative

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    ““I don’t remember your degree being in medicine or epidemiology,” she observes.”

    She nailed him here, and it’s a very pointed criticism. If we’d listened to science regarding the potential of viruses jumping the species barrier, or about climate change, we’d be far, far better off.

    “my mother’s instincts and perceptions”

    Her comment isn’t “instincts and perceptions”, it’s a hard-boiled objective statement. He’s the one spinning opinion out of impressions and feelings.

    We live in an age where we don’t listen to experts in their fields, but trust the gut reactions of politicians, celebrities, and commentators.

    • JMN says:

      Well said. Mom should serve Bret another slice or two of crow pie for his concatenation of opinion about balancing pandemic remedies against “societal” cost, or whatever he termed it.

      • Eric Wayne says:

        I’m hearing more and more of this “die for your country by going back to work” theme. The only country that is trying this is China, who were the most draconian about lock-down in the first place, but anything coming out of China is quite simply whatever it is they want us to believe. No independent reportage is allowed, and, by the way, the country I live in has the same policy in place.

      • JMN says:

        Perhaps not as bad as China and elsewhere, but here too there are efforts by the right to keep lids on information about the pandemic. The NYTimes is filling a void by collecting and publishing country-wide, county-level data of reported cases and deaths. It started recording in late February. I’ve been extracting the info pertaining just to the state where I live. The effort occupies me, and gives me something to look at that otherwise the “authorities” might never make available. And of course, it’s glaringly apparent that the reported cases are undoubtedly only the tip of the iceberg.

        I’m afraid the theme of self-sacrifice for the economy’s sake, especially of elders, rings hollow coming from people who evaded the draft during Vietnam, or who are currently sequestered on their yachts or bunkered in remote second, third or fourth homes. But “isn’t that the story of life?” — as POTUS remarked when asked why the rich and famous were obtaining covid testing when no one else could get it.

        It shames me to think it, but perhaps the governing class and its wealthy owners would respond more humanely and constructively to the threat if they suffered infection by the virus to a comparable degree as the hapless millions who are naked to it.

      • Eric Wayne says:

        Aren’t they getting infected as well, though? Even Boris Joghson have the virus. But yes, in all aspects of life, the already ridiculously wealthy and powerful are infinitely more secure than the rest of us. People were really catching on to this during the Occupy movement (decades after Noam Chomsky railed about it), but the elites very cleverly resurrected a narrative from academic theory to create a scapegoat and human shield for themselves in the form of the deplorable working class white male, who became the new enemy and cause of all evil in society. The unconscious micro-aggression became more dangerious in peoples minds than the schemes of the fossil fuel industry, the miliatry industrial complex, big pharma, and so on. And the people took the bait. Oh how they took the bait. Even the New York Times regurgitates the mantra in lockstep while patting itself on the back.

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