Dick Hubert’s Worldview: The need for inoculations—against COVID, flu and hate … everywhere

October 12, 2023 at 1:41 a.m.

By DICK HUBERT | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

I have some thoughts on inoculations this week—against diseases of the body and mind and the body politic—domestic and international.

To begin, have you gotten inoculated against the latest version of the COVID virus, as well as the yearly version of the flu?

Instead of a frantic effort to find COVID shots back in the early days of the pandemic, when if you scored a spot at the Westchester County Center for a shot it felt like winning the lottery, this Fall I considered myself lucky to find openings for my wife and myself at a local drugstore chain (CVS on Boston Post Road in Rye in our case).

I’m a patient at Westmed, the now giant healthcare system taken over by Summit Health and going down the tubes even as I write this. They have yet to even announce when their “vaccination clinic” will get either the latest flu or COVID vaccines. I wrote an e-mail to Summit corporate denouncing this failure, and I got a call back from one of their pharmacists saying he was as angry at Summit corporate management as I was.

Those of us who have to go to Westmed for one reason or another now can listen to staffers complain about management incompetence, inadequate computer systems and, of course, the relocation of call centers outside the United States. I still find it bizarre to have to communicate with an agent outside Manila or Mexico City to reach my local doctor’s office in White Plains.

Summit and Westmed need an inoculation against incompetent management. Does one exist?

An inoculation against domestic hate

The only inoculation against hate that I know of is to denounce it when you see and hear it, and keep denouncing it until your last breath. Which of course brings me to Donald Trump, who seems to thrive on inspiring hate and fear.

I am indebted to PBS Newshour’s White House Correspondent Laura Lopez-Barron for this summation in their Oct. 2. telecast:

As she reported:

“On Sept. 22, Trump suggests that General Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, should be executed.

Sept. 29, he mocks the assault on Paul Pelosi. That was a violent political attack, Sept. 29, as well in that same speech, calls for shoplifters to be shot on sight. You will remember he said in 2020, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.

And then, on Oct. 3, he said — which was just yesterday … when speaking to right-wing media, he said, migrants are — quote — "poisoning the blood of our country."

Now, I checked with a historian, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, and she said that language that he's using, talking about migrants… echoes language used in Nazi propaganda by Adolf Hitler when Adolf Hitler actually said that Jewish people and migrants were — quote — "causing a blood poisoning" — end quote — of Germany.

... Jan. 6 was, of course, the most — was the largest event that we saw in terms of the former president's language inciting people to go to the Capitol and storm it. But they also point to other incidents, death threats against the Black judge overseeing the Jan. 6 federal case.

Those death threats led to arrests, as well as the attack on the FBI Ohio office just last year shortly after Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort was raided. So, essentially, at the end of the day, all extremism experts that I talk to… say that this not only normalizes violent rhetoric, but it also encourages violence.”

I am still waiting for all the leading Republican candidates for President, in addition to all elected Republicans in Federal and State and local offices, to denounce this hate speech by their leading Presidential candidate for 2024.

Aside from Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, I hear…nothing. Even Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who insists Trump lost the Presidential 2020 election not just in Georgia but nationally, says he’ll vote for Trump if he is the nominee in 2024. How do we inoculate Republicans against supporting this fountain of hate?

An inoculation against international hate?

Wow, the list could be long here.

A Hindu led Indian government hating Indian Sikhs (to Canada’s consternation).

A Chinese government hating Uighurs. And those Chinese who seek freedom to speak, write, and report.

Myanmar’s military leaders hating Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya.

Iranian mullahs hating Iranian women who refuse to wear headscarves. Let alone all those who swear “death to Israel, America … (fill in the blank).”

Russians (and Putin) hating Ukrainians.

Israelis hating Hamas and Hamas hating Israelis.

Let’s linger on the last one for a moment as we all deal with the war that broke out last Saturday between Hamas and Israel.

For the last several months we have seen secular Israelis, and indeed large swaths of the active Israeli military and reservists, protest loudly in the streets against the hatred and vilification mounted against them by Extreme Orthodox Jews, and their demand that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not give in to those groups in Israeli society who insist on a takeover of the secular Supreme Court while at the same time refusing to serve in the nation’s military and defend their nation.

The best video summation of that bitter Israeli internal struggle was on CBS NEWS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday, Sept. 17. See it here.

Did that months long brutal internal fight encourage Hamas to launch their vicious attacks? And how did Israel’s vaunted intelligence services miss picking up on this coordinated military invasion? And will any of the blame for this failure fall on the shoulders of those ultra-Orthodox who refuse to lift a finger to fight for Israel, let alone the Netanyahu government (in which they hold key posts) that was caught flat footed by the Hamas attacks?

At this moment, as I write on Sunday night, Oct. 8, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Iran helped plan the Hamas invasion of Israel and gave the final go-ahead for it a week ago Monday in Beirut. That tends to put all previous speculation in stark perspective. Did the Iranians see the discord in Israeli society and think it presented a golden opportunity to attack it? Maybe even destroy it?

An inoculation against hate, if it could be invented, would have an incalculable effect on humanity…everywhere. In the meantime, our world deteriorates.


Dick Hubert, a retired television news producer-writer-reporter living in Rye Brook, has been honored with the Peabody Award, the DuPont Columbia Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Journalism Award.


Editor’s Note: This column, written by Dick Hubert, represents his opinion and not that of this newspaper.


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