It is sobering to realize that the coronavirus will likely kill my mother, who has very little lung function left after years of sarcoidosis. It may well kill my grandmother, who would otherwise probably clear the 100-year mark with ease. But the worst part of this is having a conversation with my father in which he rather wistfully says, “At least there was a moment or two of national unity after 9/11,” and realizing just how right he is about that. There won’t be any national unity during the “Wuhan flu” (discussing the origins of which is now considered to be racist) or in the long tail of its aftereffects.
This virus seems tailor made to divide us along every possible fault line. The left wing literally wants to use it as a bioweapon against their political opponents. Young people call it the “boomer remover” and cheer on the idea that it might affect the election in their favor by killing older voters en masse. Secure in the knowledge that they were unlikely to themselves die from the virus they would pass on to others, a group of young women I know decided to take a week-long trip to Amsterdam for a non-stop indulgence in drugs and, ahem, party behavior: presumably whatever strain they bring back could be called COVID-69. Students are being forcibly ejected from their dorms by police, and some of them are copying the riot techniques they’ve learned from watching Antifa on YouTube.