Many of us wondered why the infection rates for Covid-19 in this country continued climbing through the Fourth of July weekend and beyond, even though rates in most other developed countries were way down. The lead paragraphs from a news story out of Gettysburg, PA, offered some clues:
‘Let’s get together and burn flags in protest of thugs and animals in blue,’ the anonymous person behind a Facebook page called Left Behind USA wrote in mid-June. There would be antifa face paint, the person wrote, and organizers would ‘be giving away free small flags to children to safely throw into the fire.’
As word spread, self-proclaimed militias, bikers, skinheads and far-right groups from outside the state issued a call to action, pledging in online videos and posts to come to Gettysburg to protect the Civil War monuments and the nation’s flag from desecration.
According to the story, a large gang of “militia members” responded to a similar Independence Day hoax at Gettysburg three years ago. Back then, rumor had it that some loosely affiliated leftwing groups referred to collectively as antifa — short for anti-fascist — was intent on starting trouble there. The upshot: “… No one from antifa [was encountered], but one of the armed militia members accidentally shot himself in the leg with a revolver.”
This year’s kooks, many of them toting assault rifles, were determined to protect Confederate monuments. When the antifa subversives turned out to be phantoms, the kooks had to settle for harassing a lone man in a “Black Lives Matter” shirt until the man was escorted out of the park by cops.
“A bunch of peckerwoods,” Swamp Rabbit said after reading the story. “They walk around wearing mom jeans and not wearing face masks. But what do they got to do with the virus?”
“Everything,” I said. “They all get their information from the same sources. The sources that warn them about antifa — Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, countless rightwing websites — also tell them they don’t need masks because Covid-19 is a leftwing hoax. They enjoy being exploited by bullshit artists.”
Swamp Rabbit shrugged. “We ain’t the only country where ignorant bigots are being exploited.”
No, but we’re one of the only countries where the exploiters help run the federal government,” I said. “That’s why we’re Number One… in Covid cases, that is.”
Footnote: Last summer Swamp Rabbit and I worked an event in Mechanicsburg, a few dozen miles from Gettysburg. Fortunately for us, no one called out the militia.