I had recently watched the movie And The Band Played On, which tells the true story of the AIDS epidemic and how the CDC, NIH, and the Louis Pasteur Institute worked tirelessly to find the virus that causes AIDS. I own the DVD of the movie and have watched it many times, but the interaction between two of the scientists working on finding the virus as shown below was particularly interesting to me, and how it can be related to the COVID-19 virus our current scientists are researching:
Dr. Robert Gallo:
All right, explain one thing to me. Ten times ten times ten, my name is in every book ever written on the human retrovirus. Why would you get in bed with the French instead of me?
Dr. Don Francis:
Is it you against the French? I thought we were all against the virus. If you go to court now, everybody loses. You, the people who die while you quibble…
Dr. Robert Gallo:
[Interrupting] What do you want?
Dr. Don Francis:
I want to stop you from turning a holocaust into an international pissing contest!
I haven’t thoroughly researched if this conversation actually took place, but I have read that there was some animosity between Gallo and the scientists at the Pasteur Institute regarding who actually found the virus. But that’s not what got to me. What saddens me is that there was a division between the two, and how that division damn near crippled the efforts to find the virus, thus developing the medicine to treat the virus. And I’m more saddened that the struggle between two other entities continue today regarding Americans affected by COVID-19 – the two entities being Democrats and Republicans. And like Dr. Francis said back then, we have created our 21st century version of the pissing contest.
The news media, right-wing and left-wing online news rags, and members of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc etc have all made their opinions very clear on how the Trump administration is handling the coronavirus, and how the decisions made by the administration is affecting the lives of Americans. Those of us who try and stay informed watch the daily briefings from the White House, and then watch the spin-doctors on Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, and CNN give their two-cents on the briefings. We watch as Governor Cuomo of New York pleads his case for more supplies, and again the spin-doctors appear with their reaction. Immediately after, the contest begins on social networks. Post after post after post, I have read how Trump is only concerned about the economy and has no regard to human health, or Pelosi/Schumer wants to add “pork” that has absolutely nothing to do with relief to the relief bill. Words like idiot, moron, imbecile, ignorant, arrogant, and many more are thrown around like baseball players throwing balls on a daily basis. It seems to make us feel good that we think we know better than our political counterparts, even when we resort to name-calling. I’ve involved myself in the name-calling, and I felt ashamed and no smarter than the person or persons whom I was insulting.
We read and hear words like shelter-in-place, lock-downs, self-quarantine, and isolation, and Americans are frightened. Frightened about how long they will have to remain in their homes, frightened about possibly contracting the virus with every quick run to the grocery store, and frightened about how they will make ends meet by not working because of the quarantine. But that fear is intensified each day while we watch our congressional leaders bicker among themselves, and we as a nation just can’t have that happening right now. We can’t have our leaders drifting unanchored and lose sight of what’s most important – staying on course.
The pissing contest has got to stop.