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美国,否认与死亡之国

This Land of Denial and Death
美国,否认与死亡之国

Death comes at you fast. Just three weeks ago the official line at the White House and Fox News was that the coronavirus was no big deal, that claims to the contrary were a politically motivated hoax perpetrated by people out to get Donald Trump. Now we have a full-blown health crisis in New York, and all indications are that many other cities will soon find themselves in the same situation.

死亡飞快地向你袭来。就在三周前,白宫和福克斯新闻(Fox News)的官方说法还是这个新冠病毒没什么大不了的,相反的说辞都是居心不良的政治谎言,是那些想让特朗普下台的人在搞鬼。现在,纽约全面暴发卫生危机,所有的迹象都表明,很多城市很快也会陷入同样的境地。

And it will almost certainly get much worse. The United States is on the worst trajectory of any advanced country — yes, worse than Italy at the same stage of the pandemic — with confirmed cases doubling every three days.

几乎可以肯定,情况会越来越糟。在发达国家当中,美国处在最糟糕的发展轨迹上——没错,比处于大流行这个阶段时的意大利还要糟糕,确诊病例每三天翻一番。

I’m not sure that people understand, even now, what that kind of exponential growth implies. But if cases kept growing at their current rate for a month, they would increase by a factor of a thousand, and almost half of Americans would be infected.

我不确定大家是否明白,这种指数级的增长意味着什么。如果它以目前的速度持续增长一个月,数量将增加一千倍,几乎一半的美国人将被感染。
 

马里兰州兰多弗的一个新冠病毒检测站。

We hope that won’t happen. Many although not all states have gone into lockdown, and both epidemiological models and some early evidence suggest that this will “flatten the curve,” that is, substantially slow the virus’s spread. But as we wait to see just how bad our national nightmare will get, it’s worth stepping back for a few minutes to ask why America has handled this crisis so badly.

我们希望这种情况不要发生。许多州已经处于封锁状态,虽然并非所有州都这么做,但流行病学模型和一些初步证据都表明,这将会“压低曲线”,也就是说,大大减缓病毒的传播速度。但是,当国家的噩梦触底之前,我们有必要后退几步问一问,为什么美国的应对如此之烂。

Incredibly bad leadership at the top is clearly an important factor. Thousands of Americans are dying, and the president is boasting about his TV ratings.

最高领导人的昏庸,显然是一个重要因素。数以千计的美国人正在死去,而总统还在炫耀他的收视率。

But this isn’t just about one man. Neither the scientific denial that crippled the initial response to this pandemic, nor the tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths that now seem likely, are unique to Covid-19. Among advanced countries, the United States has long stood out as the land of denial and death. It’s just that we’re now seeing these national character flaws play out at a vastly accelerated rate.

但这不只是一个人的问题。无论是导致对大流行的初期应对不力的科学否认,还是现在看来可能发生的成千上万的不必要死亡,都并非新型冠状病毒肺炎所独有。在发达国家中,美国一直以来都是否认和死亡之国。只是我们现在看到,这些国家性格上的缺陷,正在以越来越惊人的速度呈现出来。

About denial: Epidemiologists trying to get a handle on the coronavirus threat appear to have been caught off guard by the immediate politicization of their work, the claims that they were perpetrating a hoax designed to hurt Trump, or promote socialism, or something. But they should have expected that reaction, since climate scientists have faced the same accusations for years.

关于否认:试图遏制住新冠病毒威胁的流行病学家猝不及防,他们的工作迅速被政治化,即指称他们的所作所为是用来伤害特朗普、宣传社会主义或者其他目的的骗局。但对于这种反应,他们不应该感到意外,因为气候科学家多年来面临着同样的指控。

And while climate-change denial is a worldwide phenomenon, its epicenter is clearly here in America: Republicans are the world’s only major climate-denialist party.

虽然否认气候变化是一种全球性的现象,但它的中心显然是在美国:共和党是世界上唯一否认气候变化的主要政党。

Nor is climate science the only thing they reject; not one of the candidates contending for the G.O.P.’s 2016 nomination was willing to endorse the theory of evolution.

气候科学也不是他们唯一反对的东西;没有一个共和党2016年总统提名候选人的角逐者表示愿意支持进化论。

What lies behind Republican science denial? The answer seems to be a combination of fealty to special interests and fealty to evangelical Christian leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr., who dismissed the coronavirus as a plot against Trump, then reopened his university despite health officials’ warnings, and seems to have created his own personal viral hot spot.

共和党否认科学的背后是什么?答案似乎是对特殊利益集团以及小杰里·福尔韦尔(Jerry Falwell Jr.)等福音派基督教领袖这二者的忠诚的结合。福尔韦尔认为冠状病毒是针对特朗普的阴谋,然后不顾卫生官员的警告重新开放了他的大学,似乎已经自己动手创造了一个病毒传播热点。

The point, in any case, is that decades of science denial on multiple fronts set the stage for the virus denial that paralyzed U.S. policy during the crucial early weeks of the current pandemic.

无论如何,关键的一点是,几十年来在多个方面对科学的否认,为否认病毒奠定了基础,而对病毒的否认在当前大流行关键的前几周令美国的政策无法运转。

About death: I still sometimes encounter people convinced that America has the world’s highest life expectancy. After all, aren’t we the world’s greatest nation? In fact, we have the lowest life expectancy among advanced countries, and the gap has been steadily widening for decades.

关于死亡:我有时还是会遇到一些人,他们坚信美国人的预期寿命是全世界最高的。毕竟,我们不是世界上最伟大的国家吗?事实上,我们的预期寿命是发达国家中最低的,几十年来,这一差距一直在稳步扩大。

This widening gap, in turn, surely reflects both America’s unique lack of universal health insurance and its equally unique surge in “deaths of despair” — deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide — among working-class whites who have seen economic opportunities disappear.

这种不断扩大的差距,反过来,肯定反映了美国独有的全民健康保险缺失,以及同样独有的“绝望之死”——因毒品、酒精和自杀导致的死亡——在看到经济机会消失的白人工人阶级中的激增。

Is there a link between the hundreds of thousands of excess deaths we suffer every year compared with other rich countries and the tens of thousands of additional excess deaths we’re about to suffer from the coronavirus? The answer is surely yes.

与其他富裕国家相比,我们每年多死数十万人,而我们即将因冠状病毒而多死数万人,这两者之间有什么联系吗?答案当然是肯定的。

In particular, when we conduct a post-mortem on this pandemic — a stock phrase that, in this case, isn’t a metaphor — we’ll probably find that the same hostility to government that routinely undermines efforts to help Americans in need played a crucial role in slowing an effective response to the current crisis.

具体来说,当我们对疫情进行“解剖分析”——这个惯用语在此刻已经不是什么隐喻——我们可能会发现,对政府的敌意经常破坏对有需要的美国人的帮助,而在减缓对当前危机的有效反应方面,这种敌意也发挥了关键作用。

What about the larger picture? Is there a link between the uniquely American prevalence of science denial and America’s uniquely high mortality? To be honest, I’m still trying to figure this out.

那更大的图景呢?在美国独有的否定科学之风盛行和美国独有的高死亡率之间有联系吗?老实说,我还在思考这个问题。

One possible story is that the U.S. political landscape gives special power to the anti-science religious right, which has lent its support to anti-government politicians. But I’m not sure whether this is the whole story, and the power of people like Falwell is itself a phenomenon that demands explanation.

一种可能的说法是,美国的政治格局赋予了反科学的宗教右翼以特殊权力,后者曾支持反政府的政治人物。但我不确定这是否是一个全面的说法,像福尔韦尔这种人掌握的权力,本身就是一个需要解释的现象。

In any case, the point is that while America is a great nation with a glorious history and much to be proud of — I consider myself very much a patriot — the rise of the hard right has, as I said, also turned it into a land of denial and death. This transformation has been taking place gradually over the past few decades; it’s just that now we’re watching the consequences on fast forward.

在任何情况下,重要的是,尽管美国是一个拥有光辉历史的伟大国家,有许多值得骄傲的方面——我深深认为自己是一名爱国者——但强硬右派的崛起,正如我说的,也在把美国变成一座否定与死亡之国。这种转变在过去几十年里逐渐发生;只是现在我们正在目睹后果以快进的方式展开。
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