Newmann: Musings on weirdness |

Newmann: Musings on weirdness

We seem to be in a cycle where if the news isn’t bad … it’s usually not that great.

The headlines (and the talking heads) are continually full of tales of gloom and doom. Hurricanes on the East Coast; fires in the West (nothing like regional bias to differentiate catastrophes).

And then there’s COVID-19, which is pervasive throughout the country but currently seems to have a greater preference for the South.

And the North? Well, if you hunt you can probably come up with some weird stuff going on there. We’ll leave that up to you.

There is, however, some good news. While the current climate anomalies will take years (and probably some very stringent measures) to calm down, the effects of the virus can be mitigated much sooner — and with much less sacrifice. The magic bullet is, of course, the vaccine. The shots may not completely stop the spread … but they can slow the virus train down and also minimize the effects.

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Of course, not everyone believes in the science of the shots. And there are probably quite a few folks who balk at the idea of an injection because … they just hate needles and refuse to go anywhere near them. Ironically, the first line of defense against polio all those years ago was a shot of the Salk vaccine. Then the Sabin vaccine arrived on the scene — in the form of a sugar cube. Much more palatable (literally). Kids loved it. Wonder how many folks who have resisted the current COVID-19 shots would line up for Moderna (or Pfizer or J&J) sugar cubes?

The top international story continues to be Afghanistan. The saga is familiar: Sending troops into a far-off land — whose traditions, religion and values are totally foreign to you — without a long-term comprehensive plan. And without an exit strategy. The initial aims, to “get” Bin Laden and clean out the terrorist sectors, escalated into a 20-year effort at something akin to nation building (an endeavor that has generally not ended well for us during the past 60 or so years, the current situation proving to be no exception).

So the Taliban, in partnership with Al Qaeda and Haqqani, is now vying for control of the country. The even more radical ISIS-K, which claimed responsibility for the Kabul airport bombing, believes the aforementioned triumvirate is way too liberal and is eying a power grab. Take your pick of bad or worse.

Meanwhile, the Afghani citizens are left holding the bag. It’s not an enviable situation. And, for half of the population, it could be even worse. The Taliban has said that it will respect women’s rights “within the frameworks we have.” Not very reassuring since, during their previous rule (which ended in 2001), they enforced extreme Sharia law pertaining to women (making them wear burqas, banning them from education and employment and beating women who went out in public unaccompanied).

The draconian strictures imposed on Afghani women are incomprehensible and abhorrent to the most westerners, particularly Americans.

Happily, nothing like that could ever happen here.

Unlike the zealots in that far-off land, we hold the rights of the individual to be sacred. Folks even schedule rallies to protect the rights of those who storm our halls of government.

So, as far as enacting laws that restrict one entire gender’s access to education, employment or, for that matter, personal choice … well, that just seems inconceivable.

It only happens in the realm of the fanatics.

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