Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has had a higher profile during the coronavirus pandemic than ever before, for which many of the city’s residents are grateful. Contrary to what the general public outside of California might think, the state is anything but completely liberal, and a significant number of Angelenos have been fed up with the city’s inept government, especially Mayor Garcetti, for years. He’s done nothing to fix the problems facing the city, especially regarding homelessness, trash heaps in the middle of downtown (courtesy of a grift-filled contract awarded to a Garcetti ally), and typhus infections in downtown L.A.
The coronavirus pandemic gave Mayor Garcetti another opportunity to shine under the national spotlight, and he’s not let us down. At the beginning of the pandemic, he sternly warned owners of “non-essential” businesses that he would have their water and power shut off. Then, he threatened to arrest people who didn’t comply with wearing a mask in public.
Once the Black Lives Matter protests started in Los Angeles, he reportedly ordered the LAPD to not pre-deploy when they learned that planned marches might turn violent. That was an expensive mistake; it allowed anarchists to get the upper hand and cost the LAPD millions of dollars due to destroyed property (such as police cruisers).
On the third day of the riots, he gave a speech encouraging everyone to “exercise their First Amendment rights” while assuring rioters that they wouldn’t be calling in the National Guard. Three hours later, the National Guard was deployed. He encouraged “protesters” to wear masks and to socially distance, but never once asked them to stay home.
When, predictably, confirmed coronavirus cases spiked in Los Angeles, Garcetti tried blaming it on reopening and not on the protests – though he finally had to admit that protests were at least partially responsible.
During Monday’s press conference, though, Garcetti’s comments reached new levels of idiocy.
People in Los Angeles were livid after the LA Unified School District announced Monday morning that students wouldn’t return to classrooms “until further notice,” attending school virtually, then an hour later Gov. Gavin Newsom essentially shut down the entire state. Instead of directing anger at the logical culprit – rioters – Mr. Mayor decided to go after people who might have gone to a cookout with a few friends and disobeyed his “stay at home and don’t celebrate Independence Day” orders.
Those people, Garcetti contends, with their “selfish” and “dangerous” behavior, were to blame for this new shutdown.
He said, starting around 17 minutes into the video:
And please, be honest with yourself. If you’ve been gathering with people outside your household, and maybe because you know them you let your guard down because they’re familiar, they’re a friend, but they don’t live with you, we need to stop doing that right now. It’s selfish, but it’s also dangerous. It’s part of the reason we’re stepping backwards today.
So please, do the right thing, as we did in those first few months. Do not host a party. Don’t attend a gathering. Don’t treat this like a normal summer break. This virus is not taking the summer off and we can’t afford to either.
Incredible. He didn’t ask people to be honest with themselves about whether their participation in BLM riots could have caused them to become infected or to infect their loved ones.
He also didn’t call out the crowd of more than a thousand people who were “gathering” in front of City Hall on July 1 literally during his nightly address:
LAPD is monitoring a peaceful protest between City Hall and the Hall of Justice. Please adhere to social distancing protocols. pic.twitter.com/nIRZl92Sek
— Rick Stabile 🇺🇸 (@LAPDRickStabile) July 2, 2020
How many of those people or their associates have tested positive in the last 12 days? Of course, Garcetti didn’t mention this at all.
In case all of that wasn’t stupid enough for you, here’s the really stupid part:
Los Angeles, I know this is hard. I know you’re drained. We all are. But we’re also stronger than we think. We think back on past generations that have overcome excruciating moments. Slavery. World wars. Depression. The things this country has risen up years after year, struggles that have lasted lifetimes, pale – make this moment pale in comparison.
What? First of all, his remarks don’t even make grammatical sense. Also, talking about slavery and world wars in the same breath as this quarantine is ludicrous. Don’t get me wrong; this quarantine and the helter-skelter way in which it’s been handled in California is extremely destructive. Its effects will be felt for a generation. But it’s not a world war and it’s absolutely, positively, not more than a hundred years of slavery.
We can get through this. We can make these small sacrifices. We can clean wear a mask. We can clean our hands. We can keep six feet between us. And in doing so we can accelerate the day forward in which we are back at school and our economy is roaring back and we are rebuilding our prosperity and enjoying our city.
Okay, now he’s lost me completely. Not two sentences ago he was waxing poetic about how strong the people of Los Angeles are and that they’ve overcome so many things, and now he’s saying those “sacrifices” are basic hygiene? He’s saying that if we had all been doing those things we’d be back in school, our economy would be roaring back, and we’d be rebuilding prosperity?
No. What would accelerate that day of recovery is not encouraging thousands of people to riot throughout your city, all in close proximity to each other.
No. The sacrifices aren’t wearing a mask or washing our hands or social distancing. Sure, we rail against those things because they’re symbolic, but they’re not the sacrifices. Mayor Garcetti, if you think those are the sacrifices that are making Angelenos weary and exhausted and driving up the drug overdose and suicide rates, you haven’t been paying attention. Allow me to enlighten you about the people in Southern California who have truly sacrificed during this quarantine.
- The middle-aged woman who worries daily about her mother who’s in an Alzheimer’s unit and unable to effectively communicate her needs to the staff because she was admitted only weeks before “no visiting” orders went into effect at the nursing home.
- The man whose twin brother died March 4 of lung failure caused by “the flu” who still hasn’t been able to give his brother a funeral and a proper burial.
- The members of an elite high school choir ensemble who were to sing at the Sistine Chapel in June, whose families had saved for the trip of a lifetime.
- The man whose sweetheart of 55 years almost died from chemotherapy complications, who had to wait in alone, in the parking lot of the hospital, in the middle of the night for more than four hours waiting to find out what happened after he dropped her off, unconscious, at the emergency room door.
- The couple nearing retirement age who weren’t sure their family-owned restaurant could survive the first shutdown and are now despondent.
- The college athlete whose senior year of competition disappeared.
- The woman who put off routine lung cancer follow-ups then, once she finally went to the doctor, found out that her cancer had returned with a vengeance.
- The young bride who sat alone in a cold, sterile examination room as she found out that her baby had died in utero, as her husband watched via Facetime, unable to comfort his wife and hold her hand as they cried.
- That same young husband, who had to drop his wife off at the door of the surgery center and leave her to wait alone for the necessary D&C procedure.
- The parents who found out too late that quarantine-imposed isolation led their child back to drugs, and are now faced with – at some point – burying a child who died of an accidental drug overdose.
Those are all examples of sacrifice from people I know personally, though I’m not sure I can call them sacrifices. The word “sacrifice” implies it was made willingly, and I can’t say that each of these people willingly made this sacrifice.
Garcetti’s rhetoric, like most of his policies, is inconsistent. He’s either saying Angelenos are expected to make a major sacrifice along the lines of what people suffered during a world war or a multi-year economic depression or that they’re expected to simply make the sacrifice of practicing basic hygiene to keep a pandemic at bay. It can’t be both. It certainly can’t be likened to what Black Americans suffered during the years of slavery, in any way.
And, the “spike” in cases and (allegedly) hospitalizations that caused this (overreaction of a) second shutdown was caused by the natural progression of the disease through the population, hastened by the mass gatherings/riots in late May/early June. Full stop.
Wake up, Mayor Garcetti.