From Coronavirus to Curfew
A friend who recently moved to Los Angeles from London last year told me, “I came here during raging fires, then coronavirus, and now riots and looting! I’ve gone from a three month quarantine to a nightly curfew!”
What troubles me most about her observation is the lack of focused accountability for the two problems. Yes, you can find responsibility for a slow response and blame the president, and you can also lay the blame for the high death tolls at nursing homes and other facilities on the inadequate responses of Governors Gavin Newsom of California and Andrew Cuomo of New York.
However, the worst actor remains the communist Chinese government. They acted with malice, lied and concealed the severity of the virus, arrested physicians who spoke up, and then refused to give access to worldwide researchers. This pandemic could have been greatly contained and restricted had they acted in a quick, diligent, and honest manner. We have also lost faith in the WHO, whose director protected the Chinese from the criticism and attacks that were rightly directed at it. Americans also may have lost faith in governmental agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as they had to change their advice due to new understandings of the virus as we learned more about it.
When it comes to the recent protests, the destruction of immigrant and African-American businesses that were already teetering on the brink from coronavirus lockdown is beyond painful to watch. George Floyd, an unarmed black man was handcuffed and brutally killed by a vicious cop — and now the resulting legitimate outcry, protests, and demonstrations have been usurped by looters and arsonists whom the victim’s family and many African-American leaders have already strongly condemned.
As a just society, we must address the injustice of black men being disproportionately targeted and killed by certain racist police officers, who thankfully are a small percentage of police officers, as well as a justice system that punishes the perpetrators with a fine or light sentence. At the same time, we must focus on the violent culprits who exploit the needed protests for a chance to steal and destroy property. Why not drop blue-dyed water from helicopters to identify and arrest them? Tasers and rubber bullets should be used against those looting, burning buildings, and causing other destruction to send the strong message that we won’t allow arson and looting.
Communist China’s actions have contributed to countless deaths in America and across the world, as well as untold economic devastation. In the past, countless groups and businesses in the US — including the NBA — have refused to criticize China out of fear that it would impact them economically. Now, once again, China is making a mockery of human rights and the respect for life through its actions in Hong Kong, in addition to what it’s done on coronavirus. It is time to speak out. Even if Hollywood studios and wealthy athletes, owners, and sports leagues lose a multi-million dollar endorsement or deal, silence is unacceptable. Sadly, the sports and entertainment industries are not alone in catering to the whims of the communist Chinese regime. Countless corporate behemoths including Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook cower at the threats from President Xi. Sadly, as consumers, we too have gotten accustomed to cheap goods and gadgets made in China, often at the expense of their workers. We, who have failed to demand accountability, can no longer remain silent.
The Prophet Ezekiel proclaimed, “The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.” People of conscience must stand together to castigate and ostracize all evil actors.
David Baron is rabbi of Temple of the Arts and creator of MidnightConfessions.org.