There’s something remarkably tone-deaf about the idea of staging a flypast in the middle of a pandemic. Amid widespread anger about the government’s mishandling of the crisis, with front-line healthcare workers struggling to find the equipment they need to stay alive, the idea that what we need to lift our spirits is an expensive show put on by the military implies a level of disconnection that is hard to imagine. It’s as if the President and the people around him imagine that there’s some kind of wellspring of sentimental patriotism that they can tap into and that if they just provide an appropriately stirring martial stimulus, we’ll all miraculously forget our fear and anger, overlook the dog’s breakfast he’s making of the crisis and fall in line behind his vision of MAGA greatness.
Ostensibly, the flypast is to ‘honor healthcare workers’. If anyone had asked healthcare workers how they wanted to be honored, I suspect they’d have asked for adequate protective equipment, perhaps a pay raise, maybe even a rational public health policy that didn’t force them to risk their lives and their sanity caring for their patients. But clearly no one asked them.
It’s hard to know if the people who signed off on the flypasts are simply unaware or whether they just don’t care. It’s possible that it was even deliberate: a gigantic middle finger raised to everyone who isn’t on board with the President and his friends. The very inappropriateness of the gesture may, after all, be the whole point.
Look, they say, we can do this. And we know you hate it, but you can’t do a thing to stop us.