Australia recently celebrated the rise of our own COVID Karens. Pandemic culture employs ‘Karen’ as shorthand for covidiots — the attention seekers who deny science and disrupt our fight against the virus. Karen memes focus on women, but a glance over the history of the pandemic thus far shows the COVID Karens who wreak the most damage in Australia are men.
‘Karen’ originated in Black American communities to describe the “Can I speak to the manager?” mentality of typically suburban middle-aged women who weaponised white privilege against black neighbours. But even before the pandemic, memers appropriated the label for general use. As community organiser Gwen Snyder points out, “White boys stole it and turned it into code for ‘bitch’.”
Karens do provide comedy relief from the current grimness.
However, they also undermine the community cohesion and social trust required to combat the pandemic.
Critical thinking demands healthy scepticism: asking questions, checking facts and requiring evidence. But facts and evidence do not engage covidiots, who prefer confirmation of their existing bias.
The Real Covidiots
The real covidiots — the COVID Karens who do the real damage — are not women causing a ruckus in Bunnings. Most people empathise with the harassed staff members. They recognise the entitlement and yearning for attention of those Karens and mock their junk science and pseudo-law.
The real danger comes from Karens whose positions lend them an authoritative voice. They thus exert influence over the general population and weaken our defences against the pandemic.
The runners-ups for Covidiot of the Year
Early in the pandemic, Alan Jones scurried into isolation at his luxury rural retreat. Despite that, he described everyone else’s response to the pandemic as ‘hysteria and alarmism’.
“These figures are made up,” he declared on the radio.
Then he asserted on the television that, “If this is a pandemic, words have lost their meaning.”
Jones justifies his assertions by quoting others who compare COVID-19 to the common flu.
But, COVID-19 is nothing like the common flu.
Out of about one billion people worldwide infected with the flu each year, between 350,000 and 600,000 die.
By contrast, with just over 18,000,000 cases of COVID-19 so far, the world already lost nearly 700,000 people to the disease.
Dutton receives a place because of his continued partisanship. Most Australian politicians realised their duty during the pandemic lay in a laser-like focus on defeating the virus. To that end, they amazed us all by dropping the partisan bullshit, following the science and working together against the common enemy.
In the main, our Australian leaders — federal, state and territory — did us proud.
Dutton, however, found himself unable to kick old habits, making the Queensland Premier his particular target. He complained about schools not reopening as quickly as he’d like and most particularly about the border closure. He grumbled that keeping interstate visitors out hurt tourism operators.
“Lives are being destroyed, and the Premier’s conducting some social experiment here.”
At times, the poor old state opposition could hardly get a word in as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Dutton fought it out. Perhaps that was the point. Even Dutton probably realises by now he will never be Prime Minister. With the local LNP unable to elect an effective leader since the ignominious defeat of Campbell Newman in 2015, maybe the failed prime ministerial aspirant senses a new opportunity.
Anyway, the Queensland border opened. And we all know how that turned out. The complacency and stupidity of people who failed to take the virus seriously led to a resurgence.
And the Gold goes to… Andrew Bolt
Back in May, Andrew Bolt explained where Australian governments went wrong in their approach to the pandemic.
“Millions of us are still vulnerable because our governments were too successful at stopping us from getting sick and developing antibodies. We don’t have that ‘herd immunity’ that Sweden, for instance, is building.”
Herd immunity works — except when it doesn’t — and then only if you don’t care how many people die first.
To achieve herd immunity generally requires an infection rate of 65 – 80%. So far, less than 10% of Swedes show antibodies for the virus. Those antibodies also need to keep working. The human race never developed herd immunity to a related coronavirus —the common cold — because most people lose the antibodies within six months to a year.
Twenty-five Swedish doctors and scientists recently authored an op-ed on Sweden’s quest for herd immunity.
“Sweden’s approach to COVID has led to death, grief and suffering. The only example we’re setting is how not to deal with a deadly infectious disease.”
As of 3 August, Sweden’s death toll of 568 people per million of population compares unfavourably even to the USA’s 467 deaths per million. That number is also more than twice the combined death toll of Sweden’s four Nordic neighbours.
What is Australia’s death rate per million?
8 – not 800, not 80, not even 18, but 8.
Herd Immunity? Forget about it!
Covidiots and the Pandemic
Covidiots damage our attempts to defeat or even control the pandemic.
The infodemic of messaging that dismisses the virus as less dangerous than the common flu, the blitzing of the airwaves with pompous declarations that hired media agitators understand the science better than our elected representatives, distinguished scientists and health professionals and the constant refrain that government-imposed restrictions are unnecessary encourages people to ignore the precautions that have protected us so well until now.
People ignore social distancing requirements, visit COVID hot spots and then lie about it, pop out for pizza when they should be quarantining and on and on.
In wars fought last century, those who broadcast propaganda that benefitted the enemy earned sobriquets of Tokyo Rose, Hanoi Hannah and Lord Haw-Haw. COVID Karen seems so much kinder and gentler.
What did they call you during the pandemic Grandpa?
Follow us on Facebook for regular updates on the latest local and national LGBTIQA+ current affairs, community issues, entertainment and more. Don’t forget our new QNews LIVE Facebook Live events.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.