Nobody deserves to die in a pandemic. But even now - after so much suffering, with so much more to come - millions of Americans still don’t seem to understand that brainless stupidity can put them six feet under.
Case in point: Earlier this month in Louisiana, House Republican candidate Luke Letlow won his runoff race after parroting Trumpian ignorance about COVID-19 and mimicking his hero by staging a series of maskless rallies.
Less than two weeks ago, Letlow announced that he had COVID-19.
By Wednesday morning, Letlow was unable to provide further updates, because he’s dead. At age 41.
Letlow leaves a wife and two small children. I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead. I’ll simply point out that one’s odds of contracting and dying from COVID-19 are heightened if one dwells in a MAGA bubble and throws prudent caution to the winds.
Letlow’s big message - which clicked with Louisiana voters, naturally - was that Donald Trump showed “tremendous leadership and a remarkable ability to get things done,” and that thanks to Trump, “America is defeating COVID-19.” As recently as Nov. 19, after staging multiple maskless meet-and-greets, he warned about the economic damage of lockdowns and said, “We have to learn how to live in a COVID world.”
The chairman of the Louisiana Republican party had this reaction to Letlow’s death: “The world was his oyster. We’re all in disbelief.”
Believe it, buddy. The COVID world is no oyster if you treat masks as a threat to freedom.
Naturally, the freedom lovers still refuse to believe. Social media today is infested with deniers who insist that because Letlow was only 41, surely he must’ve died for a different reason - or because he had underlying health problems. But nope, his hospital doctor said he was healthy as a horse before he was stricken, and that all the factors were “COVID-related.”
Bottom line: A young politician in the prime of health has left his wife a widow, and his children fatherless, after setting a bad example for the citizens he aspired to serve. COVID feasts on blithe stupidity. Letlow’s media feeds featured numerous photos of him greeting the common folk, sans mask. How many people did he potentially infect and put at dire risk? We’ll never know their names.
Joe Biden - the president whom Letlow would’ve staunchly opposed in 2021, had he lived to take his House seat - offered this self-evident observation Tuesday, during his remarks about how Trump has predictably screwed up vaccine distribution:
“Wearing a mask is not a political statement. It is a patriotic duty. COVID is a killer in red states as well as blue states, so I would encourage you all to wear a mask...I’m asking you to make these sacrifices (for) your lives and your livelihood and your kids and your families.”
Letlow didn’t do that. After 330,000 deaths, how many more cautionary tales do people need to hear?
Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at email@example.com