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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

From Quarantine to Curfew: A Question of Villainy and Accountability

A friend who recently moved to Los Angeles from London last year commiserated with me: “I came here during raging fires, then coronavirus, and now riots and looting! I’ve gone from a three-month quarantine to a nightly curfew!”

What troubles me most about her observation is the lack of focused accountability for the twin viruses of COVID-19 and pillage. Yes, you can find responsibility for a slow response and blame the president, and you can also lay blame for the high percentage of deaths in New York and California nursing homes on what I believe are the irresponsible and pathetic responses of Governors Newsom and Cuomo.

However, the real culprit of the pandemic remains the communist Chinese government. It lied and concealed the severity of the virus, arrested the physicians who spoke up, then refused access to our researchers. This pandemic, which might have been contained as a Wuhan epidemic, will be with us for years to come in terms of deaths and economic impact. We have lost faith in WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who propagated communist China’s report that there was no human-to-human spread. He touted the now-discredited Imperial College prediction of 2.5% death rate in the U.S. (7 million). As for what now could be aptly renamed as the Centers for Disease Confusion (masks help, masks don’t help), the CDC’s credibility in the minds of many Americans has been severely shaken.

An unarmed black man is handcuffed and held down with excessive force by a cop who ignored his distress, leading to the black man losing consciousness and ultimately dying. The resultant legitimate outcry, protests and demonstrations are overshadowed by looters and arsonists. The destruction of immigrant and African-American businesses that already were teetering at the brink of survival from coronavirus lockdowns is almost as painful to watch as Floyd’s suffocation.

The Prophet Ezekiel proclaimed, “The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.” People of conscience must stand together to castigate and ostracize all evil actors.

As a just society, we must address the injustice of black men being disproportionately targeted and killed by racist police officers (who, thankfully, are a small percentage of police). We must address a justice system that punishes the perpetrators with a fine or light sentence. At the same time, we must focus on the violent culprits who exploit the needed protests as a chance to steal and destroy property. Why not drop blue-dyed water from helicopters to identify and arrest them? Where are the tasers and rubber bullets on looters (not protestors) to send the strong message that we won’t allow arson and looting? Many white-collar criminals, including Wall Street moguls complicit in the market crash of 2008, evade jail and justice. Corrupt FBI executives on the infamous “7th floor” and above violated the law and standards of accepted conduct, and we can legitimately doubt that any of them will receive sentences.

Communist China visits a plague on humanity and denies culpability; will there be a comeuppance? Each of us has the right to sue for loss of life and livelihood. In October 2019, sports celebrity LeBron James said players and owners should refrain from stridently condemning China’s brutal repression of protesters in Hong Kong for fear of a Chinese/NBA reprisal. However, we must speak out. Even if these super-wealthy athletes, owners and leagues lose another multi-million dollar endorsement or deal, silence is unacceptable. Sadly, the sports industry is not alone in catering to the whims of the Communist Chinese regime. Countless corporate behemoths, including Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook, cower at the threats of president for life Xi Jinping. Sadly, as consumers, we, too, have gotten accustomed to $10 slave-labor sweaters and gadgets made in China. Villainy, in our nation and in the actions of repressive regimes, demands a response and we, who have failed to demand accountability, can no longer remain silent.

The Prophet Ezekiel proclaimed, “The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.” People of conscience must stand together to castigate and ostracize all evil actors.

David Baron is rabbi of Temple of the Arts and creator of MidnightConfessions.org.

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