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Stupid is as stupid does: The Uncommon Nature of Common Sense

COMMON SENSE: “sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence.”

“Common sense is not so common.” – Voltaire, French philosopher

Is it just me or does common sense appear to be a thing of the past? I am absolutely amazed that people still try to convince me that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 1.1 million people worldwide and more than 220,000 in the United States, is a hoax or a conspiracy.

How is this possible? People believe that the entire world has conspired to kill over a million people and then pretend collectively, that it is a made up virus?

People believe that two of the things that science tells us are effective in preventing the spread, social distancing and mask wearing are completely unnecessary. They say this with a straight face and some yell at you while doing so. Lawmakers across the country sue their governors for putting practices in place to protect us from the pandemic.

Here in Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers sued to force people to vote in the April primary election in the heat of the pandemic. In May, these same individuals ended the governor’s “safer at home” order early by suing and the Wisconsin Supreme Court ended the order. Republicans are now suing to end the governor’s statewide mask mandate.

More recently, while Wisconsin deals with the fourth worse rise in coronavirus cases, a record number of daily deaths, a record number of hospitalizations, and a growing death toll, a Wisconsin judge temporarily blocked an order from Gov. Tony Evers’ which limited the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor places. This lawsuit was brought by the Tavern League of Wisconsin who believes businesses will face bankruptcy and closure if the order stays in place.

How can any of this make sense if common sense is common? It can’t possibly be common. In fact it has to be uncommon. Let’s explore a few more examples from around the country.

Just over a week ago, the head football coach at the University of Florida, Dan Mullens upset that the crowd at a road game negatively impacted his team’s loss sought to pack his home stadium for their next game.

“I know our governor (Governor Ron DeSantis) passed that rule, so certainly, hopefully, the UF administration decides to let us pack The Swamp (their home stadium) against LSU – 100% – because that crowd was certainly a factor in the game.”

He wanted to pack nearly 90,000 fans into the stadium for support of his team. Shortly after this statement, over 20 players on his team tested positive for the coronavirus, the game was postponed, and he also tested positive.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said earlier this year during the height of the pandemic, that we have to strike a balance with our efforts to control the virus.

“Of course, everybody wants to save every life they can — but the question is, towards what end, ultimately? Are there ways that we can… thread the middle here to allow that there are going to be deaths, and there are going to be deaths no matter what?”

Just recently he too contracted the virus and spent a week in ICU. He was apologetic after his ordeal in the hospital.

“I believed when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that I and many others underwent every day. I was wrong. I was wrong not to wear a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett announcement and I was wrong not to wear a mask at my multiple debate prep sessions with the president and the rest of the team. I hope that my experience shows my fellow citizens that you should follow C.D.C. guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others.”

An old African proverb says “Only a fool tests the water with both feet.” How are so many now willing to brazenly test the virus that is ravaging our species? Somewhere along the way, common sense has gone away for far too many people.

One of the most quickly spreading conspiracy theories is from the Republican and AltRight supported QAnon movement. Among other things, they believe the president is waging a secret war against a global cabal of pedophile elites that includes an array of Hollywood actors and Democratic politicians who allegedly worship Satan. For those unfamiliar with it, the Wall Street Journal elucidates us about what these individuals believe.

“QAnon conspiracy theory alleges that there is a battle between good and evil in which the Republican Mr. Trump is allied with the former. QAnon followers are awaiting two major events: the Storm and the Great Awakening. The Storm is the mass arrest of people in high-power positions who will face a long-awaited reckoning. The Great Awakening involves a single event in which everyone will attain the epiphany that QAnon theory was accurate the whole time. This realization will allow society to enter an age of utopia.”

I have previously written about the nine hundred plus members of the People’s Temple who died in Guyana after following their leader Jim Jones to their promised utopia. Now millions are spreading the QAnon conspiracy theory online and the bandwagon keeps getting bigger. Once again I ask, How is this possible?

I know this year has been a very difficult one for most of us, but does it make us descend into a place where we can’t think rationally? Or is the COVID-19 coronavirus exposing what has been here all along. Are we that far removed from having the masses of people capable of critical thinking? Has our educational system failed us this miserably?

There has to be a rationale explanation. Or maybe there is no rationale way to explain where we are. Perhaps this is who we have devolved into as we pretended to evolve. I know most people don’t believe in these foolish things, but it seems to be an overwhelming number who do.

I satirically wrote a letter from the coronavirus to humanity back in the spring. As I look back on that letter, I wonder how we’ve gotten where we are now. I said in the letter that the coronavirus is thanking us for basically being stupid, without understanding the true depths of human stupidity.

I hate to use the word stupid, but Forrest Gump said it best.

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

The Milwaukee Independent began reporting on what was then referred to as the mysterious “Wuhan Virus” in January. Other local media did not picked-up on the story until many weeks later. Our early features focused on the economic impact, social issues, and health concerns long before other Milwaukee news organizations even mentioned the coronavirus. Over the following months, we have published more than 500 articles about the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of Milwaukee residents. This extensive body of work can be found on our COVID-19 Special Report page, a chronological index of links by month. Our editorial voice remains dedicated to informing the public about this health crisis for as long as it persists.
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About The Author

Reggie Jackson

As an award-winning Senior Columnist for the Milwaukee Independent, Reggie Jackson covers a range of African American issues. He is also a Consultant with Nurturing Diversity Partners, and volunteers as Head Griot for America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) in Bronzeville.