This Week We’re All Trying to Find Someone to Blame

It seems that every week of this crisis has its own theme. There was a week in early March when many of us experienced isolation for the first time, an innocent week of home workouts, sourdough bread, and hopes that all of this would pass quickly. Most recently, there was a week where we all argued about masks, including whether they work and who to wear them. This week it seems to me that a simmering resentment is boiling, and the topic of this week is to blame.

Nobody is happy with this situation, right? We are all either afraid of the virus, unhappy with the restrictions, or desperately trying to get back to work, or some combination of the above. I think that during this week’s roundtable we can have a meta-discussion of who is blaming whom and why. I see a couple of things:

Local government protests

This is a very small number of people, so we can talk either about why people feel compelled to turn up and protest , or about the motives behind organizing and inciting protests in the first place. The object of the charge is here: mainly the local authorities, which issue orders on the household and do not allow people to work.

Of course, it is ironic to gather in crowds to make these demands. I have heard of protesters claiming that COVID-19 is fake, or just the flu , or some other unscientific lie. Some rebuttal of the facts is necessary to argue that it is time to remove the restrictions.

Suspicion of the World Health Organization

This question has always struck me as a bit odd as WHO is an international organization and seems to me to be neutral and factual most of the time. But every time I receive a notification from Twitter that a WHO briefing has begun, the first few responses to the briefing tweet are people complaining that WHO is in the pocket of a particular country or leader. “This is a major epidemic scam,” reads one of today’s responses. (Lifehacker Articles also receive this treatment; just take a look at this post from today on WHO guidelines for reopening.)

Often, comments about WHO contain a hint of anti-Chinese nastiness. This Washington Post article on politics between the White House, CDC and WHO suggests that the president wants to blame China but must redirect that blame for political reasons, and ended up lashing out at the World Health Organization for withholding information.

Persons breaking the rules

Not everyone is involved in an overtly political game of accusations. Sometimes, instead of targeting government or politics, we turn against each other. And so I have seen people argue loudly that people are to blame for future waves of the outbreak. These can be people who walk on the sidewalk without masks or walk to the newly opened beaches of Florida.

While these kinds of accusations are not wrong, they seem (to me) irrelevant. Our biggest concerns include the government’s hesitant efforts, which have led us to the rampant spread of the virus without tests or any contact tracing. (I think this is my fault.) I, too, cringe at the sight of people running without masks in a crowded park or receiving visitors on Easter Sunday.

But I also understand the urge to get out of the house, and I think our irritation could be more constructively focused on people who are able to make more radical changes, such as financial assistance, so that people don’t feel so desperate.

Anyway, it’s me. Where do you see how they are accused? What questions or misinformation are constantly being raised? What would you like us to do with all our angry / nervous energy?


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