Observations of an expat: American guinea pigs

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Thank you America for volunteering your citizens as coronavirus guinea pigs. To be more specific, thank you President Trump and the governors of Florida, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Minnesota, Vermont, Ohio, Idaho, North Dakota, Montana, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

They have decided that the first duty of government is the protection of the almighty dollar rather than the protection of human life. Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor of Texas, has gone further and proposed that elderly Americans should offer to die to protect the economy.

Because public health and safety is the responsibility of state governments, anti-lockdown measures vary from state to state. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have been the hardest hit and are trying to ease back towards normality with a suck and see approach.

Georgia is more dramatic. The Governor still advocates social distancing but is reopening restaurants, hair salons, bowling alleys and — my personal favourite — cinemas. Just how hormonal teenagers will manage back row gropes while sitting six feet apart is a mystery waiting to be solved.

South Carolina is reopening its beaches and non-essential retail outlets and Tennessee’s Governor Bill Lee has more or less said to hell with it and opened everything.

Meanwhile the anti-lockdown protests continue, spurred on by commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity dubbing coronavirus a “pandumbic.” The first and biggest demonstration was in Wisconsin. An estimated 2,500 people, many of them wielding guns and pro-Trump banners, gathered outside the governor’s mansion in Lansing. The Democratic Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, had angered them by imposing a strict state-wide lockdown.  On Thursday it was announced that seven of the demonstrators had been diagnosed with coronavirus.

The anti-lockdown protesters are loud. And with weapons slung over their shoulders, dangerous. But they are a minority. A poll by the Pew Research Centre revealed that 66 percent of Americans support the lockdown. However, they can’t  demonstrate because they are self-isolating, thus leaving the streets to be noisily occupied by the minority.

The anti-lockdown movement is based on three beliefs:
1- that the lockdown breaches the First Amendment which guarantees “freedom of assembly” along with free speech and freedom of religion.
2- That the economic damage outweighs the threat to human life and
3- the pandemic is a politically inspired hoax created by liberals and Democrats in league with the Chinese and other nasty foreigners to undermine their presidential hero Donald Trump.

On the first point, the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment are constrained by law. For instance, freedom of assembly is guaranteed by the constitution, but an assembly of people who lynch a person are guilty of murder. It can be argued that an assembly of people who flout the lockdown and as a result infect people with a deadly virus from which they subsequently die are also guilty of a serious crime.  The second point is a political decision. Personally, I would not want to live in a country that puts finances before the sanctity of human life. As for the third point, that indicates an almost unrivalled blinkered stupidity.

But who knows, maybe the scientists are the stupid ones. After all, Trump had an uncle who taught  at MIT. We will know within a matter of weeks if the anti-lockdown brigade are right as over a dozen US governors turn their states into human laboratories. If they are, the rest of the world can breathe easier. If they are wrong, then there will be a lot more dead and dying two-legged American guinea pigs.

* American expat journalist Tom Arms is LDV's foreign affairs editor and Campaigns Chair for Wandsworth Lib Dems. His book “America: Made in Britain” was published on 15 October.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • John Marriott 24th Apr '20 - 9:43pm

    Trump is now speculating about injecting Covid-19 victims with disinfectant. What next? Perhaps they should send for the witch doctor. Does he really want to turn the USA into one enormous Petri dish?

  • “Trump is now speculating about injecting Covid-19 victims with disinfectant.”

    Injecting disinfectant might not cure Coronavirus but hopefully, soon it will be the thing that will eventually remove that Trump stain.

    sorry lol

  • Eileen Riley 24th Apr '20 - 10:13pm

    While I totally agree with the premise that the US is setting itself up as a guinea pig, I don’t think you are being fair. You have lumped together states that are blindly opening up to save the economy with ones that have specifically said that human life comes first and that things will only open up when it is safe to do so.

    I don’t know what you mean by ‘suck and see’ but to me that means let’s give it a whirl and see what happens. That is totally misrepresenting what New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are doing. They are listening to the scientists and the evidence and have said that they will deal with the economic fallout later. Governor Cuomo of New York has repeatedly said ‘To the old, you are not dispensable’. That is hardly protecting the almighty dollar. In fact, it is the total opposite of what the governors of Georgia, Texas etc are doing.

    To act as if they are all the same weakens your argument.

  • “They have decided that the first duty of government is the protection of the almighty dollar rather than the protection of human life.”

    This reminded me of the film by Moore and Gibbs, which I have just finished watching. It was released this week and is free to watch. Just search for it on Youtube.

    It examines the renewable energy industry, namely solar panels, wind turbines and biomass and concludes several things. Renewables cause much more environmental damage than they save. They consume more fossil fuel energy than they save. The green movement is delusional to support them. Cynical billionaires and wealthy Corporations pretend to invest in such Green initiatives whilst causing immense environmental damage and fooling the public with delusional schemes.

    It is a “must see” film and is free for 30 days so watch it now. Perhaps someone here will post a view on it so that the rest of us can debate it. Apologies to Tom and moderators for using this post to advertise it. I also have an admission, I have been making the same claims as the film for years.

  • It might do everybody a favour if Trump was to lead by example and demonstrated how to do it. It would guarantee his place in the history books.

  • Forrest Gump
    “Stupid Is As Stupid Does”
    The trade wars pushed the global economy into recession.

  • Peter
    China burns a lot of fossil fuels. Maybe you needed to experience the pollution in its cities.

  • Not sure how they are using it but British Army is now being issued with insect repellent and Vitamin D, the repellent based on a lemon eucalyptus oil extract called citriodiol – this may or may not be survivable if you inject it, as per President Trump’s seemingly homicidal suggestion.

    Oil of Oregano, breathed in, is possibly more effective, it is extremely strong (and quite expensive) and certainly cleans out the airways! Not sure why they are using Vitamin D rather than Vitamin C, though.

  • Lockdown is far from the standard response to a virus. Countries involved in this untested, unproven, experiment are already treating their populations as guinea pigs.

  • The US is, like the UK, a country of contradictions…Sadly, like the UK, the ‘best’ rarely comes to the top..

  • Manfarang, I totally agree, but the Chinese are quite open about it, unlike the companies exposed in the film. I should have provided the title, it is “Planet of the Humans”, produced by the co-founder of GreenPeace.

  • Eileen Riley,

    You make a valid criticism which deserves clarification/correction on my part. New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are not in the same category as most of the other states. The priority of their governments is the protection of human life rather than the economy. They are moving towards the easing of lockdown sanctions, but it is an easing based on scientific advice rather than the political dogma which is driving states such as Texas, South Carolina and Georgia. That is why I used the phrase “suck and see” to describe their approach to the pandemic. Clearly you and I have different definitions of the expression and I thank you for the opportunity to clarify my position.

  • John Marriott 26th Apr '20 - 8:24am

    If you want to feel better, just look up ‘The Liar tweets tonight’ on your search engine.

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