It must be a dream.
Seeing hundreds of unmasked University of Iowa fans storm the field after Iowa’s win against Penn State on Oct. 9. It’s uncommon for the school that is ranked higher in polls than its opponent to storm the field, yet that’s what Iowa fans did. After all, that’s what used to make college football such an awesome experience. There’s tailgating, carousing in local bars, parties in dorms. Oh, and actually watching the football game.
The jolt of emotions can be more powerful than the barricades separating players from the fans. Yet, this time, I wondered what Penn State players felt inside the swarm of gold and black, in these times of COVID-19.
It must be only a dream.
Seeing a former president return to Iowa also on Oct. 9 to energize his base. Undeterred by former President Donald Trump’s response to the attack on Congress or racist remarks about Haitian migrants, thousands of his supporters, including state and congressional leaders, gathered at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
But it is not only a dream. This is a sad reality.
On Jan. 6, the Confederate battle flag was flown inside the Capitol of the United States. And that forbidden word, secession, which went viral prior to the Civil War, is now spoken on the tongues of conservatives and liberals: 52% of Trump supporters and 41% of Biden’s supporters are in favor of disunion.
A headline in Newsweek read: “Donald Trump is Back. Democrats should be sweating.” Yet it’s not just Democrats who are burning.
“We are going to take back America,” so believes Trump. “Civil War is coming,” so believe some Trump supporters.
Seriously? Calling for disunion? Even though in red and blue states live individuals who lean right and left? Are we for the exodus from our states of men, women and children because of our ideological differences?
Are we seriously calling for disunion, even though the economies of red and blue states benefit from inter-state trade, tourism, tax agreements?
Hypocrisy is bad for America. Yet that’s what America is getting from our red versus blue politics.
Recall that Operation Warp Speed was Trump’s “moonshot” program to a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19. Recall that the Trump administration allocated millions of taxpayer dollars to pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Moderna, to speed up research and manufacturing of the COVID-19 vaccine.
He also warped the time it would take to end the pandemic when he used the bully pulpit to tout hydroxychloroquine, disinfectants and shining light inside the body as potential remedies for COVID-19. He undermined his own vaccine discovery program, enabled the spread of misinformation, and failed to reduce loss of human life. And he still received a COVID-19 vaccine before departing the White House.
“Our data demonstrate that Donald Trump, before his profile was suspended, was the main driver of vaccine misinformation on Twitter,” concluded a research article in PLoS One, a peer-reviewed journal with a rigorous multi-stage editorial screening and assessment process.
In spite of the reality that more than 720,000 American people have died because of COVID-19, we are still fighting over vaccines and face masks.
Pro-life, yet also anti-vaccines, anti-face masks, just like Sen. Ted Cruz. The same Cruz who condemned the effort to help the country recognize that Black Lives Matter, yet tweeted “#YourBodyYour Choice” in support of some Black NBA players who refused the COVID-19 vaccine.
We seem to be getting used to hypocrisy.
Even though our founding documents state that all men are created equal, we still fought over the freedom of enslaved Africans, we still fought over Black people and women’s voting rights, we still fought over civil rights.
In spite of the reality that recounts and audits found nothing sinister, we are still fighting over the integrity of the electoral process.
We clash and die in the virtual Colosseums of Parler, Facebook, Twitter. We throw punches in the arenas of Fox News, CNN, MSNBC — because of another microscopic, yet also lethal, and electronic virus of disinformation, which distorts our minds and flames our souls.
The wars keep us trapped in anger and hate. To be free we must act.
Freedom from hypocrisy requires effort to speak truth. Freedom from political wars requires effort to make peace. Freedom from hate requires effort to do good.
Will America become willing to sacrifice for the common good, now and for our posterity? As the United States of America? Or tread solo, as red or blue states, as Republicans or Democrats, as pro-life or pro-choice, as liberals or conservatives.
Now, and awake, we must see that we are stronger together, than we are divided.
Walter Suza of Ames, Iowa, writes frequently on the intersections of spirituality, anti-racism and social justice. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It must be a dream.