Guest columnist Mark Karpel: Let ’em die

  • First lady Melania Trump arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., June 21, 2018. AP

Published: 9/17/2020 8:00:27 PM
Modified: 9/17/2020 8:00:17 PM

It may turn out that the most important statement of our current political season was scrawled, like graffiti, on the back of Melania Trump’s coat when she visited a border detention center.

The first part — “I really don’t care” — perfectly sums up Donald Trump’s attitude toward most of his responsibilities as president. At that time, Trump’s directives on immigration, so heartless and carelessly executed, made “I really don’t care” official government policy.

And that indifference, over time, has had lethal consequences. When he impulsively ordered U.S. troops out of Syria after a phone call with the president of Turkey, he was saying, in effect, of the Kurdish fighters who fought beside us and helped to defeat Isis, “Let ’em die.”

And they did.

When he minimized the lethality of the coronavirus early on and refused to organize a national campaign to control it — knowing full well, as we’ve recently discovered, the dangers it posed — he was saying, this time about Americans, “Let ’em die.”

And they did.

When he insisted states reopen after quarantine despite the guidelines of his own administration, he was implicitly saying, of senior citizens and people with preexisting conditions, of front-line health professional and essential workers, “Let ’em die.”

And they did.

When he filled arenas with his supporters in Tulsa — and, just this past week, in Henderson, Nevada — flouting social distancing guidelines, he was saying, in effect, “Let them die.”

And they have.

And when he insists that schools reopen across the country without offering assistance from the federal government to make it safer to do so, he is saying, of the teachers, staff, students’ elderly relatives and even some of those children, “Let’ em die.”

And they almost certainly will.

But the second part of that tag on Melania’s coat is the truly important one. Donald Trump clearly, beyond any shadow of a doubt, doesn’t care.

But “Do you?” If you do, do whatever it takes to vote in this election — register, if you haven’t already (you have until mid- to late-October in most states to do so); apply for and send back your mail-in or absentee ballot (until late October or early November in most states) and send it in as soon as possible; vote in person, if you’re willing to take that risk, and vote as early as possible, which you can do in October and even September in some states.

And, if we all do, in numbers large enough for an incontestable landslide, this administration — with its grifters and craven careerists, its sycophants, stumblebums and know-nothings, “one day, … like a miracle … will disappear.”


Mark Karpel is a psychologist and writer who lives in Northampton.

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