By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
The quarantine and shelter-in-place rules due to the coronavirus have not been fun for anybody but have helped some people from either getting the virus or dying from it. The insistence on having people wear face masks – mostly so those who may unknowingly be carrying the virus cannot pass it on to anyone else – has not seemed prohibitive. In fact, it has been a wise move.
So why is it that people – many with guns – were seen on the steps, in the front and inside of state capitol buildings, demanding that the restrictions be lifted, as reported by NBC News? And why are so many people refusing to wear masks, citing a violation of their First Amendment rights, as reported by CNN and NBC?
Watching the protests going on, the rebellion against sheltering in place, with people deliberating gathering in groups has been fascinating. The rules being put in place, although they have been hard on businesses – were not put in place to oppress people, but to save lives. Yet, there is this angry rebellion, primarily from Whites, and primarily from Whites who are supporters of the president.
The president has given tacit approval for their outbursts and has said nothing about them carrying guns into government buildings, according to The Business Insider. These people, he has said, are “very good people, but they’re angry.” The message is that if you are angry, then you should exercise your constitutional rights – unless, of course, you are a Black man or woman protesting real injustice. Colin Kaepernick represented the anger of many when he knelt rather than singing the national anthem, and he was excoriated by the president and banned, basically, from the National Football League. Apparently, in the eyes of the GOP, only some anger – White anger – is acceptable.
But watching these reactions of some White people, and reading their retorts on social media, there is a question, which keeps rising to the surface of my thoughts – and that is, “why are these people such crybabies?” White privilege has spoiled them into believing they are better than everyone else and, as such, deserve special treatment, and our society has basically obliged their wishes and supported their beliefs.
But this virus has run roughshod over their sense of entitlement. Suffering is all right for other people, but when White people are forced to suffer, along with everyone else, they complain – and at least some of them pick up their guns. They whine about their rights being attacked, forgetting all the ways this society has attacked and taken away the rights of so many others. And it seems that in their privileged minds, they have come to the point where they believe they do not have to care about other people. And these disgruntled White Americans who refuse to wear a mask and practice social distancing don’t care if they get other people sick.
Oppressed people in this country have endured injustice from the time the United States was born. From Native Americans, to enslaved Africans, to the Latinx community, women, the Japanese after World War II, Muslims – so many groups of people have had to learn how to “grin and bear it” as their rights have been stomped on, denied, and taken away not to protect themselves and other people, but rather to uphold and maintain the white power structure. So many Whites refuse to admit the damage that racism and sexism have done to the status of American citizens who happen not to be White and male. They in fact sigh with exasperation when people speak up and mention that they are being oppressed.
These rules are not being put in place to bring White people down; they are being put in place to save vast numbers of people from a disease that doesn’t care if one is White and Republican or Black and Democrat. The virus doesn’t care where people live and if they have a college education. The virus is a formidable and deadly enemy, though, and the only way to effectively fight it, as medical measures are being researched – is to be in community with each other and follow the rules until it is safe to lay those rules down.
Those who have lived under the thumb of oppression get it.
It’s too bad that the privileged do not get it, and in the process of their rebellion, are threatening the lives and health of so many. It feels like they feel like their privilege does not require them to care about others, that the privilege they have always had should simply be allowed now, no matter what it costs or how it affects others. Like children who throw tantrums when they do not get their way, white supremacists are doing likewise.
It is too bad they cannot be given a pacifier and made to be quiet – for the sake of the lives of so many who will be affected by their self-centeredness and blatant disregard of the needs of others. White supremacy hurts us all – including those who have been led to believe that their skin color puts them above the rule of law and the guidelines of human decency.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. Her latest book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.