Reflections

The Masks That Blind Us

These are frightening times. Sizeable numbers of our population, including apparently most of our political leaders, are clearly terrified of COVID. This is becoming increasingly obvious in public places, where the mood is subtly changing: people are afraid of each other and show their fear not only by their avoidance of contact but in their faces, or they are angry and rebellious.

Am I imagining this, or do some people look at you in the supermarket aisles as if you were the enemy, a potential killer even? More frightening than the disease itself is this social response.The gung-ho ‘we’re all in this together’ spirit of a few months ago seems to be waning.

The media doesn’t help. We are constantly being given grim figures about the number of the dead, figures that are rarely placed in context. For example, we are fed daily information about the mounting death toll in the US, without regard to the size of the US population: in fact the death rate, expressed as a proportion of the population, is well below that of the UK and several other western European countries. By comparison the Australian statistics are so low as to be virtually off-scale, yet our politicians make extraordinary comparisons with other catastrophic events.

This is the worst thing that has ever happened to us as a nation, our leaders will tell us, comparable in its awfulness to the world wars and the Spanish flu, leaving out the horrors of polio (who remembers that now?) and the dangers of a world without antibiotics. Yes, we should all be more discerning in our reading, but not everyone can be: we are reaping a whirlwind.

The failure of our schools to teach history and logical thinking means that young people particularly are ill equipped to process the information they are fed. They accept the narrative, knowing that economic and social catastrophe will no doubt ensue, but convinced that the price is worth paying.

All this in a world largely without faith. Tragically few nowadays have any lingering confidence in the providential goodness of God. Science alone carries the mantle of divinity but it will be shown to be a poor substitute for the real thing. It is itself divided: there is by no means universal agreement on the nature of the COVID threat or the best means of dealing with it, but public opinion demands radical measures and more moderate voices go unheeded.

When the COVID crisis began, the Save the Children Fund attempted to break into the dominant narrative and point out that 15,000 children die every day because of hunger. All those thousands of unnecessary deaths every day in a world wealthy enough to spend billions of dollars on making life safer for the relatively fortunate people of privileged societies! If the COVID emergency had moved our international agencies sufficiently, as caring human beings, to take even a few steps towards reducing this appalling statistic we could feel that the fear and suffering had not been in vain, but sadly there is little sign of change. Children in the less fortunate regions of the world will still die, regardless of whether or not we find a vaccine to safeguard the rest of us.

There is much irony in this. Governments that are increasingly comfortable with the notion of pre-natal infanticide and euthanasia are showing a touching concern for the survival of people in their twilight years. I suppose we should be grateful for their good will, but excuse me if I am sceptical. A world that has lost its Faith, that puts all its trust in human ingenuity and all its hope in prolonging the healthy lives of its preferred citizens, is heading helter-skelter towards a moral abyss. God grant that we find the wisdom to see the full extent of the dangers we are facing.

Dr David Daintree AM is the Director of the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies in Hobart

10 comments
  • lloveday

    I suggest governments, long comfortable with pre-natal infanticide, are now becoming comfortable with postnatal infanticide where viable humans born as a result of a botched pre-natal infanticide are denied the attention necessary to stay alive.
    .
    From the Coroner’s report into one of the many such incidents in Australia:
    .******
    The evidence established that the deceased was fully born in a living state. In the 80 minutes of her life she had a separate and independent existence to her mother. In my view, it is important to not let semantics confuse the matter. The deceased was not, and should not be described as a “foetus”, an “aborted foetus”, an “abortus”, a “living foetus” or a “living abortus”, “non-viable foetus”, “live neonate” or anything else that diminishes her status as a human being. Similarly, the purpose of the induction procedure (which was to abort the delivery of a live baby) should not be allowed to diminish her status as a human being. Her life was unexpected and her death was inevitable. However, the first half of this description could be applied to many of us, and the second half to all of us. The deceased having been born alive deserved all the dignity, respect and value that our society places on human life.
    *****
    Although he weasel-mouthed his way around it during the Presidential campaign, Obama voted against Illinois law to mandate medical attention to born-alive humans almost identical to the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act that passed in 2002 when the vote in the House was by voice vote and the vote in the Senate was by unanimous consent and which the weasel-mouthed one said he’d have supported.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    The Covid ‘threat’ and the CO2 green ‘threat’ have played horribly on the minds of young people, who are by their misinformed ‘education’ and an over-hyped media now woefully ill-prepared to analyse these issues rationally and dispassionately.

    Youth, I guess, was and still is ever keen to remake the world according to their enthusiastic desires, which makes them prey to mendacious ideologies and snake-oil purveyors. The prevalence of these types has not diminished, indeed, it has vastly increased in both numbers and in power. Thanks, Gramsci.

  • Paul Maguire

    Dr Daintree’s imagination is not playing tricks on him. The Australian population has been fed a narrative of imminent death and doom. The media mob are transfixed on the daily aggregate infections and deaths, with no so much as one question or report of the vast majority that experience absolutely no symptoms, recover or do not require hospitalisation.
    It’s as if the population in the grip of mass hysteria. The fear in people’s faces (the bits you can see behind the masks) and body language is palpable, especially here in Melbourne, Victoria.
    However, the most frustrating (although not surprising) aspect of this human melodrama is the lack of dissenting voices beyond the pages of Quadrant amongst the churches, chambers of commerce, public intellectuals, academics, lawyers and the human rights mob. Are these people so tied in financial chains to government largesse and the prevailing zeitgeist of imminent destruction and self loathing to speak their minds? Do they have minds of their own anymore?
    I find myself slipping into despair with every day of this relentless authoritarianism in the name of ‘saving lives’ but crushing the human spirit.

  • Peter Marriott

    I agree with everything you say David, particularly regarding faith. On my regular walks I am now starting to meet a few people who not only put their head down and walk past on the further edge of the path but one or two actually walk way off out into the grassed area at least 8 or 9 metres away with a grim angry expressions, still looking down. In the supermarkets you’ll find more and more of the zealous, virtue signalling type always on the look out for the non-complying…..are they the informing, ‘dobbing’ types, I don’t know, but the thought occurs that they are. Kenneth Minogue captured it fairly well in his book ‘The Servile Mind’ I think, as has Ryszard Legutko in his ‘The Demon In Democracy totalitarian temptations in free societies’.

  • pgang

    Since this article was posted, around 150,000 pre-natal infants have been murdered across the world. It is the leading ’cause of death’ in the world. Be thankful you were born.
    As for distrust of each other, I think it is increasing. Not just in regard to ‘being infected’ but also in expecting to be abused for breaking some bizarre code of conduct, or in being anonymously dobbed-in for something paltry. Seems like the Communist utopia has arrived without a revolution.

  • lloveday

    The Australian allowed my comment in response to Shane Warne being allowed to travel to England:
    ********
    “One law for Warne (in no way do I begrudge his exemption) and another for a mate who for 35 years has lived overseas where he has a job with a long-term contract, a wife with whom he has a teenage son, and who came to Australia for an intended short term visit late March, but is denied permission by the Australian Government to return home”
    **********
    Shades of the Berlin Wall? If another country is willing to receive you, why does the Australian government give the power to faceless bureaucrats to deny you the right to leave? My mate’s holed up in an apartment in Melbourne, slowly going around the bend.

  • T B LYNCH

    The commies gave us the Wuflu as a botched Biological Warfare Weapon from a dumb lab staffed by kindergarten grade scientists, who wouldnt last 5 minutes in my lab.
    The US has developed, tested and delivered a totally effective, state of the art, 21st century, RNA vaccine.
    The Battle against this commie virus is essentially over.
    Dr T B Lynch.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    “The Battle against this commie virus is essentially over.” Dr T B Lynch

    Off topic, but hope Dr Lynch is right.

    Heard an English chap researching corona viruses in rural China interviewed on the BBC in early June this year. Part of that team of scientists that had its US funding terminated by the President.

    He said they had identified over 800 corona viruses in the region, most of which had cross-species transmission potential.

    Covid-19 had a “96% resemblance” to a virus detected in horseshoe bats in southern Yunnan: http://www.bio.bris.ac.uk/research/bats/China%20bats/rhinolophussinicus.htm

    Research links below:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6466186/

    “During the past two decades, three zoonotic coronaviruses have been identified as the cause of large-scale disease outbreaks–Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome (SADS). SARS and MERS emerged in 2003 and 2012, respectively, and caused a worldwide pandemic that claimed thousands of human lives, while SADS struck the swine industry in 2017. They have common characteristics, such as they are all highly pathogenic to humans or livestock, their agents originated from bats, and two of them originated in China. Thus, it is highly likely that future SARS- or MERS-like coronavirus outbreaks will originate from bats, and there is an increased probability that this will occur in China.”

    https://jvi.asm.org/content/89/20/10532

    “Although horseshoe bats are the primary reservoir of SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs), it is still unclear how these bat viruses have evolved to cross the species barrier to infect civets and humans. Most human SARS-CoV epidemic strains contain a signature 29-nucleotide deletion in ORF8, compared to civet SARSr-CoVs, suggesting that ORF8 may be important for interspecies transmission. However, the origin of SARS-CoV ORF8 remains obscure. In particular, SARSr-Rs-BatCoVs from Chinese horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus sinicus) exhibited <40% amino acid identities to human/civet SARS-CoV in the ORF8 protein. We detected diverse alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses among various bat species in Yunnan, China, including two SARSr-Rf-BatCoVs from greater horseshoe bats that possessed ORF8 proteins with exceptionally high amino acid identities to that of human/civet SARSr-CoVs. We demonstrated recombination events around ORF8 between SARSr-Rf-BatCoVs and SARSr-Rs-BatCoVs, leading to the generation of civet SARSr-CoVs. Our findings offer insight into the evolutionary origin of SARS-CoV ORF8 protein, which was likely acquired from SARSr-CoVs of greater horseshoe bats through recombination.”

    Perhaps Nature controls us after all, and not vice versa.

  • lloveday

    “Be thankful you were born”
    .
    I’m thankful I was born when I was, where I was, and no matter what happens from here on, I’ve enjoyed a mostly pleasant and, I feel, privileged life, as did most of my peers, with the notable exceptions of some who were conscripted and sent to fight in “that crazy Asian war”. But even of them, one described it decades later as “the best time of my life”.

  • DG

    I agree, the Covid Games have had and will continue to have a staggering deleterious effect on our economy. Economy? Economy is where we live and create benefits for each other, including wealth surpluses to invest in medical research,welfare and health. The economy is also where we build relationships and meaningful lives. With all that under threat, it can only be bad for mental and social heath.
    Its even proving to be worse that the Carbon Circus.

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