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Journalist scorches Trump and other far-right extremists who 'endangered our lives' with 'dishonest and negligent behavior'

Al Jazeera

The Republican Party and the far right have been incredibly resilient in the U.S. over the years, bouncing back from everything from the Iran/Contra scandal to the economic crash of 2008 and the Great Recession to the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003. And if history repeats itself, the GOP and the far right could bounce back from its most recent disgrace: the weeks in which President Donald Trump and the far-right media failed to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously. But progressive journalist Mehdi Hasan, in a scathing article for The Intercept, stresses that Trump and the far right’s abysmal response to coronavirus isn’t something they should be able to live down ever.

Hasan opens his article by noting that those who, during the George W. Bush years, pushed for the invasion of Iraq and promoted the “disastrous economic policies that helped cause the financial crash in 2008” are not sufficiently held accountable today.

“I wonder: will we make the same mistake after the United States has recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps the biggest political, economic and public health crisis in modern American history?” Hasan asks. “Will we forgive those who got it so badly wrong and endangered our lives? Will we forget their dishonest and negligent behavior?”

Now, Hasan notes, there are “countless conservatives” who are trying to rewrite history, pretend “that they have always taken COVID-19 seriously” and “make their earlier denialism disappear down the memory hole.” But neither Trump nor his sycophants in the right-wing media, Hasan stresses, should be allowed to live down their coronavirus “denialism.”

“Never forget: the president of the United States claimed to have the coronavirus ‘totally under control’ because it was only ‘one person coming in from China’,” Hasan writes. “He said it would miraculously ‘disappear.’ He compared it to the flu…. He called concerns over the spread of the virus a Democratic ‘hoax.’”

Hasan continues, “Never forget: members of this Trump Administration suggested that the coronavirus was not just ‘contained,’ but contained ‘pretty close to airtight’…. Never forget: Republican members of Congress took photos mocking the spread of COVID-19.”

Hasan emphasizes that in January and February, Fox News was an especially shameless bastion of coronavirus “denialism.”

“Never forget: Fox News hosts fell over one another between January and March to dismiss or downplay the threat from the coronavirus, which one described as ‘yet another attempt to impeach the president,’” Hasan recalls. “Another said the more they learned about it, ‘the less there is to worry about’ — while yet another announced that ‘it was the safest time to fly.’ The biggest name on Fox News, Sean Hannity, not only compared the coronavirus to the seasonal flu, but he also suggested that it might be a ‘Deep State’ plot against Trump while accusing Democrats of ‘weaponizing an infectious disease’ to ‘bludgeon’ the president.”

Hasan adds, “Never forget: the dozens of other right-wing media personalities who misread a graph and claimed that the ‘coronavirus is LESS dangerous than the seasonal flu’ for people under 60 — who derided those warning about the dangers of the virus as a ‘doomsday cult’…. Never forget: the numerous far-right Christian evangelical pastors who tried to blame the coronavirus on everything from the ‘transgendering’ of ‘little children’ to ‘a world that has turned its back on God.’ One of them was arrested in Florida, after defying local coronavirus restrictions and holding packed church services.”

Hasan concludes his article by stressing that those who were guilty of coronavirus “denialism” should be shamed not just for the time being, but permanently.

“Never forget what these ridiculous and reckless people on the right said and did, how dangerously and shamefully they behaved, as American jobs were lost in the millions and American lives were lost in the thousands,” Hasan asserts. “Never forget — and, most important of all, never listen to any of these people about anything ever again.”

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