Home Politics The Deaths of 150,000 Americans Are on Trump’s Hands

The Deaths of 150,000 Americans Are on Trump’s Hands

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Gravediggers carry the casket of someone presumed to have died from the coronavirus as they are buried without any family present at Mount Richmond Cemetery in the Staten Island borough of New York on April 7, 2020. (David Goldman / AP Photo)

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Last week, the number of Americans dead from Covid-19 surpassed 150,000. Despite a death toll that now exceeds the total loss of life seen in some of America’s greatest wars, we still have no national plan for testing. No plan for contact tracing. Our rules for mask use and social distancing are haphazard at best, and a selfish minority of Americans actively ignore what rules are in place.

More people will die. We have over 4 million cases, and that number is growing rapidly. Some of those who are now sick will soon die. Some of those who are now sick but don’t know it yet will soon die. Some who are now perfectly healthy will become infected and die. Consider: The last person to die of Covid-19 this year hasn’t even been infected yet. Somebody who has done all of the right things thus far—worn a mask, washed their hands, and, if lucky, spent the better part of five months socially distant and lonely—will nonetheless come into contact with someone who hasn’t been as careful, contract the virus, and die before the holidays. People will continue to die needlessly because other people couldn’t be bothered to take the threat seriously.

Nobody will pay for these senseless deaths. Nobody will go to jail because they didn’t wear a mask and infected somebody who had a preexisting condition. No prosecutor is going to be able to make a “reckless homicide” charge stick, because all a would-be defendant has to do is say, “I was just listening to the president of the United States.”

That president, Donald Trump, will never pay for what he’s done. Oh, he might lose an election. He might even be compelled to leave office once he loses (though that is still kind of up in the air). But Trump will never be held criminally accountable for the deaths he has caused. We cannot calculate how many Americans would have died even if we did everything right versus how many Americans have died and will die because Trump has done everything wrong, but that number is large. The delta is monstrous.

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Trump and his administration should be treated like mass murderers. Vanity Fair reports that Jared Kushner may have decided to scuttle a national testing plan because the deaths were, at the time, heavily skewed towards “blue” states with Democratic governors. If true, that behavior should be viewed as a crime against humanity. No, it is not the killing fields; it is not the Armenian genocide; it’s not the gulag or any number of recent horrors of history. But I would argue that it could meet all three elements required to go before the International Criminal Court: It’s persecution against an identifiable group, as well as an inhumane act “intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health”; it’s a systemic “attack” against a civilian population; and it’s done with knowledge of the attack.

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