I’m going to clue you all into something, but you probably noticed it already. When people write about political topics in this particular day and age, the age of COVID-19, there’s a tendency to try to tie the virus into the narrative however you can. In part, this is natural. After all, writers are people. No, seriously, we are. Even people who write for Slate and The Trace. Shocking, I know, but it’s true. Anyway, they’re people, and as people, they’re going to have emotional responses to things.
And let’s be honest, COVID-19 is on most people’s minds these days.
So, it’s natural to make connections between COVID-19 and other issues. After all, we’ve linked COVID-19 to the Second Amendment plenty here. After all, such a looming threat has an impact on so many facets of our existence, what else can you do?
But some people are going out of their way to link things to COVID-19 and related events, so much so that it absolutely boggles the mind. Take this op-ed, for example.
It’s no surprise young people are defying social distancing guidelines. I teach social justice education to college students, and I understand why this is happening. It’s not their selfishness or entitlement. It’s us.
Recent news pieces have begun to focus on the noncompliance of young people — particularly millennials — with social distancing policies meant to curb the spread of coronavirus. We’ve seen slightly sunburned and inebriated 20-somethings refusing to abandon their beachside spring break plans in favor of more prudent public health measures, like social distancing. Let’s not forget, most of these college students just unexpectedly inherited an extra week of break, too, while faculty members scrambled to convert their courses to e-learning platforms. The young people seemingly are all too willing to risk the odds of contracting (or spreading) coronavirus to uphold their personal right to party.
Now, at this point, I’m willing to agree with the author. Young people aren’t really worried about it because they’re not likely to do more than get sick from it. Many of whom aren’t thinking about how they may bring it home and infect vulnerable friends or family members.
But what else do you expect from a generation that has been raised to believe the sun rises and sets with them.
Of course, in the very next paragraph, the writer goes off the rails.
These stories have a kind of Charlton Heston cold dead hands vibe to them; and it doesn’t take too much imagination to recognize the similarities between millennials’ stubborn insistence on invoking their right to party in spite of a pandemic outbreak and gun rights enthusiasts’ insistence on bearing arms in spite of what might rightly be called a gun violence pandemic. The point is, they have learned from example.
Now, let’s also acknowledge that many of these young people–the people who took to the beach on spring break despite the virus–are college students who have a strong tendency to lean left politically. They’re not likely proponents of gun rights, which means they also reject the arguments of individual freedom surrounding gun rights.
Instead, the writer–Laura Kalmes, a Ph.D. in philosophy who teaches “social justice”–tries to link this kind of behavior to another group she doesn’t like.
She doesn’t just stop there, either.
I can’t help but think about those college-aged revelers who defiantly occupied beach chairs along the Florida coast, blithely spreading a global pandemic while guzzling boozy tropical drinks. What happened in Florida should be a lesson to us about the social, economic, political and educational failures of society. Florida, with its Republican-controlled legislature and governor, is a place that aggressively embodies the American ethos of rugged individualism, self-interest and personal freedom. Florida brought our national attention to measures like the Stand Your Ground law, which elevate the rights of individuals over the safety of communities; and it has done so under the banner of American patriotism. The true American is defiantly individualistic, unfettered by the constraints of big government and unconcerned with the unseen other.
Of course, for someone who holds an advanced degree, she really shows how uneducated she is. Stand Your Ground laws do elevate the rights of individuals, but they don’t make communities unsafe unless you really think they legalize murder. Of course, if that’s the case, you’re a complete idiot who probably needs a constant reminder to breathe.
Look individualism is a very American trait. I’ll grant Kalmes that.
Yet to blame that trait for people ignoring recommendations means she has to completely ignore the history of young people in America. The young have typically been rebellious of authority to some degree. It’s part of the maturation process, but it also means that they often ignore authority. That’s regardless of who that authority actually is.
Yes, they do this while also typically espousing authoritarian ideas. Quite the contradiction, but since they often feel like they’ll be the authorities in charge, it’s not as much of one as you might think.
Anyway, Kalmes feeble attempt to link the gun rights movement to teenagers ignoring CDC-recommended protocols is just an effort to try and lay the blame on anyone for her and her academic colleagues’ failings.
After all, people like her have been shouting “resist” for years now, directing all the malleable minds she can to stand against the Trump administration and all those authorities. Now, she’s absolutely shocked that the very people she’s been telling them to resist the government actually went and resisted the government by ignoring their recommendations.
In fact, she’s so shocked that she’s completely blind to that fact and instead has decided it simply must be the fault of her own personal “other.” In this case, that would be us on the gun rights side.
Yet if we were that influential with that particular demographic, then tell me how March For Our Lives ever came to be? Tell me why David Hogg is practically a household name?
Don’t get me wrong, Hogg and company aren’t the totality of the younger generation, but there’s also no evidence that gun rights discussions have swayed anyone to think of themselves before the so-called “greater good” either.
Kalmes’s efforts to make this link aren’t just laughable, they’re pathetic. If she wants to know who to blame for these teens’ actions, she needs to look at her fellow college professors.