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Last month, as the pandemic picked up steam, Donald Trump put a 60-day hold on US funding of the World Health Organization. Last Monday, he announced that he was considering yanking the funding on a permanent basis and was also likely to withdraw the United States from the WHO. That’s a pretty strong Signal of the horrendous direction Trump is heading in as the fallout from the pandemic intensifies.
This clearly wasn’t an announcement made with global public health in mind; rather, it was part of his increasingly preposterous effort to deflect blame onto others for his administration’s negligent handling of the pandemic. Just like his intensified war on immigrants, under the guise of preventing carriers of Covid-19 from entering the country, this move has nothing to do with public health and everything to do with throwing red meat to the know-nothing mob.
For months now, doctors and public health specialists have been telling the administration that excluding asylum seekers and refugees is not an effective or scientifically sound method of fighting a viral outbreak. Doctors Without Borders has denounced the administration for continuing to fly planeloads of deportees, some infected with Covid-19, to Latin America and the Caribbean as the crisis has gathered pace. But Trump is not interested in best practices; he’s only interested in what appeals to his base.
That’s why thousands of desperate people are being thrown back into Mexico with no due process. It’s why he insisted that Congress exclude all mixed-status families from the recent financial relief programs, thus condemning huge numbers of children, many of them US citizens, to destitution. It’s why he has repeatedly stated that he would like to withhold financial assistance from cities and states that don’t cooperate fully with his anti-immigrant agenda.
Given these developments, when I opened my mail this week and found an Economic Impact Payment check from the US Treasury, signed by “President Donald J. Trump” and made out to my wife and me, we knew exactly what to do with the money.
My wife and I have been lucky so far, our jobs and incomes spared during this crisis. We don’t need the money, and even touching a check with Trump’s name on it makes me run for the hand sanitizer… so we decided to donate it.
Donald Trump, if you’re reading this: Thank you for the government check so outrageously—and misleadingly—embossed with your name, as if you were dipping into your personal savings to help my family. We have donated half the money to the WHO’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund and the other half to the UndocuFund, a pool of money set up after the catastrophic California fires of 2017 to help undocumented immigrants—including garment, agricultural, and domestic workers—who didn’t qualify for financial aid and who, along with their families, have been excluded from government assistance during the Covid-19 crisis.
We wish you had sent us more money, Donald, so that in your name we could have donated to other worthy organizations, to groups that represent the best in humanity, that foster empathy and kindness rather than the venal and sadistic vision that you embrace.
We could, for example, have channeled additional Economic Impact Payments to the International Rescue Committee, which is struggling to help refugees as the pandemic rages. Earlier this week, using the public health emergency as an excuse, your administration extended the land border closures with Canada and Mexico indefinitely, essentially shutting down all asylum and refugee admissions into the foreseeable future. This should have gotten far more attention, but it’s been lost amid your babble about self-medicating with hydroxychloroquine.
We’d be equally happy to donate to United We Dream’s DACA Renewal Fund, even as you hope for a Supreme Court ruling eviscerating the program and shredding the life hopes of the hundreds of thousands of young people dependent on its existence in order to make a living with a modicum of security and educational opportunity.
Meanwhile, some parenting advice: Your children, Donald, are making an awful lot of unnecessary Noise these days, be it embracing the crazy conspiracy notion that Joe Biden and other Democrats are cheering on the global public health crisis and economic collapse, simply to sabotage your reelection chances, or the equally crazy allegation that Biden is a pedophile. I would say their behavior is beneath the dignity of your office—but you’ve already shown, over the past three and a half years, that you do not believe your office deserves any dignity.
That’s the Signal and the Noise, dear readers. Stay well, stay healthy… and keep the good fight for fairness and decency alive.