Denial is no way to go through life

With Britain out of the European union, Sweden remains the most prominent member state holdout to the euro. Sweden is home to the krona, their unit of money since 1876, and they’re going to keep it that way. Nobody pushes a Swede around when it comes to krona or the coronavirus. Yeah sure, you betcha.

If you think Sweden, home of that conservative bete noir called socialism, is an unlikely hero to the alt-right, don’t forget Russia is too. The case of Sweden, for the conservatives, anyway, is what’s known as confirmation bias. It’s the exception that, in the minds of some, disproves the rule. Conservative commentators from Laura Ingraham to Sean Hannity to Rush Limbaugh are now crowing about Sweden. Even Peter Hitchens, Sherlock to his late brother Christopher Hitchens’ Mycroft, is extolling Sweden as the new exemplar that we should all be following. Stay at home? Shut down the country? Stop working? Don’t make me skratta.

Not so fast. Maybe things aren’t so great in Sweden after all. Maybe their numbers are starting to look a little alarming. Maybe the big problem with Sweden is they aren’t testing aggressively enough and their numbers only look good on paper, but even that good look is beginning to fray at the edges. Unfortunately for Sweden and everywhere else, people don’t get sick and die on paper, they get sick and die in real life, in the real world. Maybe Sweden is going to pay a tragic price in loss of human life very soon. Maybe the scientists were right after all. Imagine that.

And it’s interesting that even members of the Swedish government are starting to scratch their collective blond heads. Quietly, ever so quietly, while no one was looking, a couple of days ago Sweden shut down its ski resorts while keeping everything else open.

I think Nancy Pelosi said it best. We need to stay at home. We need to maintain social distancing. And we need testing, testing, testing. If everyone does it we just might beat this thing. If people hold out and continue to defy it, we’re going to be in this nightmare for a lot longer — all because of them. A lot of people are going to die unnecessarily. It’s just that simple. You can’t bully a virus. A virus doesn’t care if you’re a macho original.

Right now the United States is testing about a million people a week. While that may sound like a lot it, would take six years to test everyone in America at that rate. Things need to speed up dramatically.

Meanwhile the mixed messages from child rapist and murderer Donald Trump are doing incalculable harm, of course. On the one hand he’s tepidly backing his official government guidelines for quarantine and social distancing, on the other he’s encouraging states like Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia to rebel against lockdown restrictions. He’s giving the go ahead to all those “very fine people” of the Flu Klux Klan who think a virus can be beaten with good old American protest, and, for some reason, a confederate flag and a gun.

So, no, Sweden is not an exception. I support their keeping the krona as their unit of money. Good for them on that. But I do not support their policy of science denialism when it comes to coronavirus. Their policy is going to be an unqualified disaster, not just for them, but by false example, for the rest of the world. The perennial folly is upon us once again, when armchair idiots without any qualifications tell us that science has it wrong. I wonder when we will finally learn. As ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, remain indoors, maintain social distancing, wash your hands and stay safe.

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