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Pandemic: the June Journal

by Martin Green
 


June
2020!


Author’s Note: About five years ago I wrote a mostly fictional memoir called “The View From 85.” At the beginning of this year I thought I’d try to write a mostly factual memoir I’d call “The View From 90.” I had no idea at the time that the world and everyone’s lives would be beset by a virus and that on top of this our country would experience a social upheaval resulting from the killing of a black man. I’ve been taking notes on what’s been going on during the year and writing a kind of pre-memoir month by month. Below is the month of June. It’s pretty rough and will be revised at the end of the year but some readers might be interested in the view of events from a 90 year old.

The View From 90: June

     At the end of May I wrote that with the coronavirus, the economic collapse and the aftermath of the George Floyd killing who knew what was coming up next and the road ahead looked bumpy. This proved to be an understatement. I also wrote that the racial turmoil had displaced the virus as our number one story and this continued through almost the whole month of June when the virus once again came to the forefront.

     The George Floyd killing set off a wave of protests, some (as their adherents said) largely peaceful, many not so peaceful as they were more accurately termed riots and included arson, looting and a few murders along with a lot of injuries. One particular night stands out in my mind, when rioters took over Lafayette Park in Washington D.C., which is adjacent to the White House. A historic church by the park was set afire, objects were thrown at Secret Service men and whatever other law enforcement officers were there, injuring 60 or 70, I believe a squad fire was on fire and it was said the President was in the bunker (cowering in the bunker according to the hostile media, just inspecting according to Trump). After a day or so, Trump, declaring himself the law and order President, went to the park and, after protestors were cleared away walked to the church and held up a Bible. Also at a later date, protestors tried to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in the park but didn’t succeed and Trump declared that such acts were crimes.

    In other places, businesses, including Macy’s, were looted in New York; in Sacramento many downtown businesses were destroyed; the same was true in many other cities. The most bizarre thing was the taking over of a six-block area in Seattle, which the city’s hapless mayor called a block party and looked forward to a summer of love. The day after this, an event occurred in Atlanta, Georgia, which threw more fuel on the fire, another black man, Rayshard Brooks, was killed by a white cop.This was different from the Floyd killing.    Brooks was asleep in his car by a Wendy’s, tested positive for alcoholism, seemed to be peaceful but when the cops were about to handcuff him he engaged in a scuffle, grabbed one of the cop’s taser, ran off with it, fired the taser and then was shot dead.       

      In most places, liberal mayors directed police to stand by and do nothing and some even marched with the protestors. The mayor of Washington D.C. had  “Black Lives Matter” painted in huge yellow letters on a street close to the White House and re-named the street BLM Plaza. What was the object of all this activity. It turned out that it was a demand to defund or even dismantle police departments.

In Minneapolis, where all of this started, it was dismantling. In Los Angeles, it was defunding. In New York, Mayor DeBlasio cut the police budget by a billion, which still didn’t satisfy protestors camped out by City Hall. As might be expected, police morale sank and police retirements rose. Also, shootings in major cities spiked up.   

 

    I mentioned that protestors failed to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson. In other places, they were more successful and in fact an orgy of statue topping swept over the nation, starting with but not confined to Confederate War generals. A statue of Abraham Lincoln was targeted but, in a rare case of foresight, was blocked off. In another case, the statue of Teddy Roosevelt in front of New York’s Museum of Natural History, which I remember from when my mother used to take us there when we were kids, wasn’t torn down but removed to some unknown place where it couldn’t offend anybody. Christopher Columbus was another target. One statue was pulled down into a river or some body of water In Sacramento, the statue of Columbus and Queen Isabella that had been in the Capitol rotunda for years was removed and taken off somewhere. So far the names of cities like Columbus, Ohio and Columbus, Georgia have remained the same. A statue of Frances Scott Keyes, I believe in Golden Gate Park, was either defaced or taken down. A couple of statues of Junipero Serra, who founded many of California’s missions, were taken down, one in Capitol Park here.

     The statue-toppling orgy was accompanied by an orgy of name-changing. Any name associated with the Confederacy, like those of military bases, was on the list for removal. Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, Squaw Valley and other such names were deemed out of bounds.     Washington and Jefferson were deemed unsuitable as names for some public schools in California. Companies, it was reported, were falling over each other to give money to Black Lives Matter. One question in all of this is why the George Floyd incident set off such a huge conflagration and I wonder if the strain the country is under because of the virus contributed to this. I guess the historians will let us know.

     A number of individuals were caught up in the onslought of ultra political correctness. The quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees, stated he would always respect the American flag, meaning, I guess, that he wouldn’t kneel when the Star-Spangled Banner was played before football games. After Brees was chastised on social media, Brees of course apologized. The longtime announcer of the Sacramento Kings, Grant Napier, incautiously replied to a tweet asking how he felt about Black Lives Matter that he thought all lives mattered.   Napier immediately apologized but was fired from his announcer job and also from his radio show.   

     On July 4th, the President went to Mount Rushmore to give one of his better speeches, a call to patriotism, and there were a lot of fireworks. His opponents said that each of the presidents on Mount Rushmore was suspect in some way, the local Indians would be affronted and the fireworks might cause fires (they didn’t). They also called July 4th a salute to white supremacy and suggested that it be replaced or supplemented by Juneteenth, the day when all African-Americans were liberated, although I thought this happened much sooner when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.   

     On the home front, our locked-down boring life continued but we did have a bit of excitement. One night as we were preparing for bed I had a chirping sound and thought nothing of it until the chirps kept coming and it was evident they were from all three of our smoke alarms. In normal times, there was someone in our retirement community to call about this, but now, of course, everything was shut down. I recalled reading in our last retirement community publication that there was a non-emergency number to call and at the time I thought I hoped I never had to do this. However, the number was available only until 5:30 and it was now 11:30 so that wasn’t of much use. What to do? First, like any sensible person I panicked, but Beverly said we’d never get to sleep with all of that chirping so next I got out our three-step ladder but could see I couldn’t reach any of the alarms. Next I called the local fire station. A computer told me to call 911. I didn’t think our predicament qualified as an emergency (except to us) but I called anyway.   

     The lady who answered asked if we had any of the coronavirus symptoms. I told her we didn’t. She said help was on its way. *In about ten minutes three very large firemen came into our house.    One had some instrument that told him the battery in our hall alarm had gone dead. He got on my little ladder, easily reached the alarm and replaced the battery. The firemen were then ready to leave but Beverly said that the batteries in the other two alarms would probably go dead soon. Luckily I had a couple of spares; the fireman replaced the other two alarams and told us we should be okay for a year. By then, I hope things will be back to at least semi-normal.

     One good thing we’d noticed since the onset of the virus was that robocalls and scams had diminished to almost nothing. Maybe the callers and scammers had also locked down. But now with things opening up they were also back in business. One morning in particular we had three calls supposedly from Apple saying something terrible involving our password and we should call a certain number. To make sure we called Apple and were told that this was indeed a scam. Just what we seniors worrying about the virus needed on top of that.    

     One more personal note, despite being almost completely inactive during the lockdown one morning I woke up with a pain in my left hip.  This was a pain above and beyond the usual old age aches and pains and I have no idea where it came from. I employed the RICE treatment---rest, ice, compression (I think) and something else---and at the end of the month the pain was still there. Like the virus, it was stubborn.  

     This account, which will have to be revised at the end of the year anyway, has gone on long enough so I’ll end by saying that as states, including California, opened up, going to Phase Three or whatever, the number of cases started to climb and it began to look as if another crisis was coming on. This while the after-effects of the racial strife lingered on with various cities denuding their police forces (and crime increased), some protests were still going on and, oh, yes, there was an election pending, with the horrible choice between Trump and Biden pending. Yes, I’ll definitely end here.


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