Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Final Solution: Purple People Eater

Philip Roth wrote The Plot Against America. Then there was Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Orson Welles’ l939, The War of the Worlds, an updating of the H.G. Wells classic, also hinted at looming Nazi threat in a radio broadcast that scared the hell out of the public, who believed that the US was really being attacked by alien invaders. The fact is that outside the horrifying exception of 9/11, America is unique in never having been attacked. Europe was laid a shambles by both Allied and Axis bombings and Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki represented a level of destruction that had never been seen before and has rarely if ever been witnessed since. The coronavirus is in fact the only time that the United States has ever been put into a state of total paralysis by an invader, this time in the form of a virus. Americans are not used to their way of life being disturbed. The Life of Reilly was a 50’s television series starring William Bendix as a wing riveter in an aircraft plant. Who knew or cared if he were building B-52s. He lived in his simple house with a white picket fence and carried a lunchbox to work. However, behind the innocent veneer was a shadow. I. G. Farben was the German company that produced Zyklon B and it undoubtedly had its share of portly middle-aged men who lived in quaint dwellings with manicured lawns who simply hammered in the bolts and wouldn't have otherwise hurt a fly. During the Second World War the Russians endured the siege of Leningrad and the English the bombing of Britain when Londoners took refuge in the Underground. Yes, there was Pearl Harbor, but Europeans and certainly the Japanese had threats that came directly to their shores. The coronavirus is the first time that Americans have really looked at the face of death and near extinction.

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