My piece yesterday on New York Times Opinion Columnist Farhad Manjoo’s piece around visiting relatives seems to have resonated. In short, the writer described in detail how unsafe it was to travel home for the holidays - how many people it would effect, the dangers to his life, their life, and so on - and then ended with a sudden “well, I’m still gonna travel. Bye!”
The Times, clearly seeing everyone was mad at them, added two very specific things, as noticed by Casey Johnston -
A new intro…
A new ending.
While some are glad that the Times chose to layer very clear guidelines at the beginning about how remarkably lethal choosing to make a trip like this is, and applaud the extra detail added around how Farhad will be making this trip, many (myself included) are raising reasonable points about how this still sucks. Julia Carrie Wong raises a question as to whether Farhad’s new detailed plan of action existed before everyone got mad.
My feeling? The changes make this piece a hundred times worse.
We pulled our kids out of the learning pod a week before the holiday. We’re looking into getting tested before we go, and will all probably quarantine for a couple of weeks after we return.
Early on Thanksgiving morning, the four of us will get in the car and drive, not fly, to my parents’ house. Over five hours in the car, we will likely stop to use the restroom once or twice, but will not come into close contact with others (as defined by the C.D.C.). We will meet my parents in their backyard.
I can’t promise that they won’t hug our children, but our plan is to have the outdoor meal socially distanced. Our celebration will involve a total of seven people — fewer than the 10-person limit that many states have imposed on gatherings. Afterward, we plan to stay overnight in the area, not in their home, and to drive back the next afternoon.
I truly believe that Farhad’s new plans suck, and that they suck for the reasons I laid out yesterday - if you are justifying an optional action by saying “we’re socially distancing” you are just as bad as he is, and he is quite bad in this case. To say “our plan is to have the outdoor meal socially distanced” in the same breathe as “I can’t promise they won’t hug our children” is to say “who gives a shit about the rules.”
To start a piece with a quote about how traveling home for Thanksgiving is “bringing a loaded pistol for Grandma’s head” and then saying that “for family it’s worth it” is giving people who read the New York Times to make judgment calls a free pass. It is publishing in the newspaper of record a justification that people are actively looking for to travel for Thanksgiving. It is actively encouraging people who aren’t traveling for Thanksgiving but want to eat dinner outside, or do other things with friends the pass they have been looking for, as someone has written, in detail, about their big effectual bubble, and then said it’s alright to travel “because family is worth it.” Meeting his parents in the back yard is not a magical forcefield. COVID does not, and will not, give a shit.
By updating this with more layers about how careful Farhad will be, and how deadly the trip nonetheless could be, the Times is continuing to encourage the kind of behaviour I discussed in my previous post.
It’s continuing to perpetuate a snobbish, smug, intellectual disregard for people’s safety, because you are “careful” and “follow the CDC guidelines” you are somehow protected, not like those stupid people who don’t wear a mask. By continuing to perpetuate a standard of “I’m safe because I wear a mask and I follow the guidelines” you actively, deliberately continue to make this pandemic worse, and outside of Thanksgiving continue to inform and continue the actions of selfish intellectuals through further intellectual irresponsibility.
I am sick of it, because I saw several people repost what I said yesterday that I have seen eating outside at restaurants, or drinking outside at bars. If you’re reading this and you’re one of those people, please look inward, please stop going out, please stop being this way. You’re just as bad as Farhad, you’re just less popular.
And if you’re staying inside…thank you.