Whistling past the coronavirus graveyard

It's hard not to notice something more indigenous to Americans than to most of the world: Using humor to fight something that's (literally) deadly serious.

There are a lot of  jokes about the coronavirus, a lot of memes, and a lot of videos making fun of the infection itself, as well as some of the practices associated with fighting it (social distancing, wearing masks, overvigorous hand-washing, etc.).  For examples of a variety of tongue-in-cheek coronavirus jabs, check out BabylonBee.com.

But there are also those pleading that we stop with the humor already, that "being funny" when people are dying is, well, seriously not funny.

A recent article about a young man in New Jersey who lost his fiancé to the virus brings up this very issue.  He quite bluntly asks, can we stop with the joking already?

I must admit, I for one am very sympathetic to his request and agree that if someone in my close family had the virus -- and especially if they died from it -- just how funny then would I find the humor aimed at corona?

But I also see the humorous jabbing side of all this, as well.  To me, the humor is more along the lines of "whistling past the graveyard," throwing a middle finger at death and saying, you won't defeat us.

Mike Rowe had a wonderful, measured response to what's happening worldwide, and especially how we in America and in all "free" countries around the world should react.  He's a big proponent (indeed the originator) of something he calls "Safety Third," the idea that if safety is actually first, certain tasks would never get done and freedom would be curtailed.  He shares the classic illustration of the British people's response to the Germans daily bombing of London back in WWII.  Rowe applies his "formula" to the current crisis and you can read about it on Facebook.

Humor might, at worst, be insensitive in this time of caution and fear (real or imagined), but it certainly isn't deadly.  In fact, some craziness might even awaken some folks who wouldn't normally take this pandemic so seriously -- the young, for example, who may think this seeming madness is going overboard since they themselves are more likely to survive the infection.  Rap music might reach this crowd.  Just Google words like "Corona rap" and you'll find a lot of quirky, even raunchy, humorous examples.

There is, of course, something infinitely worse than humor to "fight" the virus, and that's when it gets politicized.  Many in the media seem more concerned with what we label the virus than how we fight it.  Questions at a recent press conference with the president and his team kept falling back into the name-calling arena, that to call the virus from China a Chinese virus was racist.  It seems that the virus that hit America back in 2009 by way of Mexico, labeled H1N1, was also at the time called the Swine Flu.  I don't recall anyone in the press pelting then-President Obama with pleas for clarification on the nomenclature.  Think about it: If it's referred to as the Swine flu and it comes to us via Mexico, doesn't that imply that Mexicans are... dirty?

Here's the long and short of it.  Name-calling and humor are both sidebars to defeating something that in most of our lifetimes has never been seen before -- whether the calls for sheltering-in-place are way overblown or not, most nonpolitical people in the know, including many scientists and doctors, believe that, in this case, we should err on the side of caution.

So, there's science and being informed by facts, and then there's trying to score political points -- which could certainly prove deadly.

Certainly now is the time we need to come together so that a few months down the road, we can all pat each other on the back and say, "Together we WON!"

Then, alive and kicking, a renewed America can use the upcoming election to debate and decide who was the bigger champion of the victory over the dreaded coronavirus.

It's hard not to notice something more indigenous to Americans than to most of the world: Using humor to fight something that's (literally) deadly serious.

There are a lot of  jokes about the coronavirus, a lot of memes, and a lot of videos making fun of the infection itself, as well as some of the practices associated with fighting it (social distancing, wearing masks, overvigorous hand-washing, etc.).  For examples of a variety of tongue-in-cheek coronavirus jabs, check out BabylonBee.com.

But there are also those pleading that we stop with the humor already, that "being funny" when people are dying is, well, seriously not funny.

A recent article about a young man in New Jersey who lost his fiancé to the virus brings up this very issue.  He quite bluntly asks, can we stop with the joking already?

I must admit, I for one am very sympathetic to his request and agree that if someone in my close family had the virus -- and especially if they died from it -- just how funny then would I find the humor aimed at corona?

But I also see the humorous jabbing side of all this, as well.  To me, the humor is more along the lines of "whistling past the graveyard," throwing a middle finger at death and saying, you won't defeat us.

Mike Rowe had a wonderful, measured response to what's happening worldwide, and especially how we in America and in all "free" countries around the world should react.  He's a big proponent (indeed the originator) of something he calls "Safety Third," the idea that if safety is actually first, certain tasks would never get done and freedom would be curtailed.  He shares the classic illustration of the British people's response to the Germans daily bombing of London back in WWII.  Rowe applies his "formula" to the current crisis and you can read about it on Facebook.

Humor might, at worst, be insensitive in this time of caution and fear (real or imagined), but it certainly isn't deadly.  In fact, some craziness might even awaken some folks who wouldn't normally take this pandemic so seriously -- the young, for example, who may think this seeming madness is going overboard since they themselves are more likely to survive the infection.  Rap music might reach this crowd.  Just Google words like "Corona rap" and you'll find a lot of quirky, even raunchy, humorous examples.

There is, of course, something infinitely worse than humor to "fight" the virus, and that's when it gets politicized.  Many in the media seem more concerned with what we label the virus than how we fight it.  Questions at a recent press conference with the president and his team kept falling back into the name-calling arena, that to call the virus from China a Chinese virus was racist.  It seems that the virus that hit America back in 2009 by way of Mexico, labeled H1N1, was also at the time called the Swine Flu.  I don't recall anyone in the press pelting then-President Obama with pleas for clarification on the nomenclature.  Think about it: If it's referred to as the Swine flu and it comes to us via Mexico, doesn't that imply that Mexicans are... dirty?

Here's the long and short of it.  Name-calling and humor are both sidebars to defeating something that in most of our lifetimes has never been seen before -- whether the calls for sheltering-in-place are way overblown or not, most nonpolitical people in the know, including many scientists and doctors, believe that, in this case, we should err on the side of caution.

So, there's science and being informed by facts, and then there's trying to score political points -- which could certainly prove deadly.

Certainly now is the time we need to come together so that a few months down the road, we can all pat each other on the back and say, "Together we WON!"

Then, alive and kicking, a renewed America can use the upcoming election to debate and decide who was the bigger champion of the victory over the dreaded coronavirus.