I wrote about this coach's brave quest to get himself fired, and enduring appeal of bad, false choices. https://t.co/MyGG2IaQDQ
— David Roth (@david_j_roth) October 16, 2021
I corrupted my online history (or at least my credit card’s) with a Defector subscription, solely for the purpose of supporting, in a small way, one of my favorite writers:
On Sunday, I watched maybe 40 angry people walk down my street in the rain. Most of them were on the sidewalk, and so from my vantage point disappeared under construction scaffolding and then reappeared where it ended. A few others—the one with the Blue Lives Matter flag and the one with the Gadsden flag, the handful of women with megaphones—walked in the street. A half dozen police cars escorted them, lights rolling. A protest that wouldn’t otherwise have significantly congested the sidewalk was therefore able to slow traffic in both eastbound lanes to the speed of this particular distractible crowd. Another half-dozen police officers surrounded the pod, projecting even from a distance the sort of aggrieved and wary boredom that only police officers can.
It was clear what these people were on about; stickers had gone up around the neighborhood decrying Medical Apartheid, and overall it just seemed like we were due. The protests that made their way through these streets in the summer of 2020 had not just a more defined and infinitely more righteous purpose than this much smaller one, but also an identifiable cadence and cohesion and shape. People were there for different reasons, but they were at the very least more or less capable of getting on the same page for a “no justice, no peace” chant because they all more or less believed it. This was not that, and not just because of how discordant and unfocused it was. This furious orchestra consisted entirely of lonely soloists; they were each very much on their own march…
When the light changed and the pod crossed the avenue, they became indistinct. The police lights bloodied the buildings; the megaphones issued strange and now incomprehensible challenges at closed windows; the surly sum of them crept towards their little march’s end, not so much looking for a fight as casting their inarticulate challenges and collective noise out onto the flat surface of the city in the hope that someone, anyone, might rise to the hook.* * *
It is not quite true that Washington State head football coach Nick Rolovich has been trying to get fired for several months now, but he has been very actively trying to figure out what he can get away with. In July, Rolovich released a terse statement on social media explaining that he had “elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private” and saying that he would not be discussing that decision—one he took care to say, as such people reliably do, was every individual’s decision to make—any further…
If Rolovich were a bigger name or a better coach, this might be a bigger story. If he gets fired, it might yet become one. There is a reflexive media fetish for binaries, which has unhelpfully created the idea that there are two viable sides to the question “is it good to take collective and individual action against a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans?” And rightwing media, which has been desperate to create the appearance of massive martyrdom campaigns against mandates in the absence of any such thing, is forever looking for victims of this purported overreach so that they might be instrumentalized as part of their ongoing campaign of base-infuriation. That this is never anything but cynical—the dissidents these efforts spin up are always one-and-done players in the Fox News Cinematic Universe; the (vaccinated) politicians and demagogues propping and pumping up this sham resistance quite obviously value those refusing as nothing more than culture war cannon fodder and plainly regard them utterly disposable rubes—doesn’t make it much less believable to those inclined to believe it.
To see it for what it is would, for those enlisted in the movement, require that these people see themselves as not just something other than the heroic main characters of reality, but as part of a world in which other people live lives that are not just meaningful but real. The rest of this worldview simply would not and simply could not endure that; the cruelty and heedlessness upon which it is built could not survive that realization and still be justifiable. There’s just no giving it up…
(Purely personal dilemma: I very much want to make a similar small contribution to keeping Julia Ioffe employed. However, doing so would unlock not only her columns but a wealth of smarmy media-centric self-pleasuring by her ‘publisher’ at Puck. Not to mention encouraging the careers of a couple of her fellow ‘columnists’, and I’m not sure I can bear to be suspected of paying to read, e.g., Dylan Byers… )