A Million Dead Americans
A million. Probably wildly undercounted, but still. Look at it. Try to imagine a million people. Most of us know, what, a few dozen people we could describe from memory? Maybe a couple hundred for the truly extroverted? Tens of thousands of times that, gone. In just a couple years. Gone forever.
This is where my empathy for the Republican base starts to break down. I can understand that they're being preyed upon by predatory political and media elites, or that they are poorly educated or economically destitute, or that they despise diverse, educated and Progressive Coastal Liberals(TM). I get the argument. I think it's an infantalizing argument, and I have no idea why any of those factors makes them vote Republican, but I get it. Kinda.
But a million deaths is a hell of a thing to ignore.
I'm starting to think that an intrinsic part of the American identity is a hatred of America. Not the whole thing, obviously. Most people probably see the things they value as the "real" America. Those things are worth protecting, by force, if necessary. But the rest? Falcon Heavy, next stop: the Sun. Hatred of American history, of American elites, of American deplorables, of American institutions, of the American government, of American liberalsism or conservatism or centrism, of American zealotry, American atheism. The specific objects of hatred shift and change depending on the hater's geography, or education, or religion, or race, or gender, or heritage.
There are no principles behind this hatred. Political principles don't arise from moral conviction in the America of Hatred; they are wielded as cudgels against your enemies.
I think some of this hatred infuses our perception of that 1,000,000 dead. We can hate them for failing to get vaxxed, or for making Americans look like irrational idiots, or for still voting for the bigoted authoritarians whilst choking on their flooded lungs, or for hurting our small businesses, or - the worst offense - for proving us wrong about how bad things were going to get (and still are, in some ways). We can use them as an excuse to hate our political opponents, which is the most prolific usage of these dead.
The answer, of course, is tolerance. Tolerance for the America you hate, the America you fear, the America you don't understand, for the America filled with ignorance and prejudice and animus directed at you and what you value. But there are no political forces in America preaching tolerance any more, not honestly. There are just varying dogmas of acceptability and heresy.
Maybe I'm wrong about all this. Take it for the ignorant rantings of a foreigner. But a million bodybags, a million funerals, a million parents or children or siblings or friends... how do you edit that out of your view of the world? How do you shrug and turn away? How do you keep voting for more of that?
How can you hate your fellow Americans that much?