The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is a classic tragedy of destruction following errors in judgment. Naomi Zack presents social and political aspects of this disaster as it unfolded in public health through federal and local government structures, society, culture, and the economy. Federalism combined with politics in facing and denying the SARS-CoV2 pandemic has revealed both weaknesses and strengths.
Preparation was woefully inadequate for the 2020 tidal wave of COVID-19 that broke over the medical system, the educational system, the lives of the poor, essential workers, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and women, especially. Rhetoric and conspiracy theories flourished, as Red and Blue Americans politicized the pandemic. Police reform became urgent after billions witnessed George Floyd’s death. The war of the statues evoked new conflicts over free speech.
The X-ray nature of COVID-19 has revealed the United States to itself, in character, incompetence, superstition, and injustice, but also in dedication to caring for others and abiding resilience. The core of democracy held after the 2020 election but vigilance is newly important and required. As a record of this US Plague Year and an argument for why we need to prepare for Climate Change, as well as the next pandemic, this book is an essential resource for every student, scholar, and citizen.
Naomi Zack is professor of philosophy at Lehman College, CUNY. Her most recent Rowman and Littlefield books are Progressive Anonymity: from Identity Politics to Evidence-Based Government (2020) and Reviving the Social Compact: Inclusive Citizenship in an Age of Extreme Politics (2018). Earlier books include: TheTheory of ApplicativeJustice:An EmpiricalPragmaticApproach to Correcting Racial Injustice (2016),White Privilege and Black Rights: The Injustice of US Police Racial Profiling and Homicide (April 2015), The Ethics and Mores of Race: Equality after the History of Philosophy (2011/2015), Ethics for Disaster, (2009, 2010).
Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: From the Middle of Things
1. The Virus in the World
2. Federalism and Localism
3. The US Culture Wars and Rhetoric
4. Inequalities and Marginalization
5. Police Reform
7. The Economy
10. The Ethics of Climate Change
Conclusion: Tragedy and Resilience
About the Author
Drawing on her considerable expertise in disaster ethics and issues related to societal inequality, Naomi Zack explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has relentlessly exposed and amplified existing vulnerabilities and fault lines within the United States. With remarkable clarity and precision, she illustrates the centrality of ethics to understanding how the pandemic has unfolded, as the disaster has been shaped by the choices we have individually and collectively made. This is an impressive and wide-ranging book that succinctly captures the ways that COVID-19 has interacted with many of the most pressing questions facing the United States.
Zack's new book, by helping us to better understand the American tragedy of COVID-19 provides us with the intellectual resources we will need to avoid, or at least mitigate, similar or worse tragedies in our future. A book for our times if there ever was one!