As lockdowns continue to be implemented across the country in response to the growing coronavirus outbreak, President Trump and some of his most vocal supporters are seeing the containment measures as more damaging than the pandemic, lamenting the effect on the U.S. economy.
A common theme emerging from Trump's evangelical base, such as Christian pastor Jonathan Shuttlesworth, is that people who practice social distancing are “sissies” and “pansies” who have been “neutered." Writing in The Atlantic this Monday, Cornell University history professor Lawrence Glickman says that this kind of rhetoric frames the protective measures as a "threat not only to America’s rugged individualism but to masculinity."
"How did we get to the point where ministers, the president, many Republican politicians, and a variety of media outlets are calling for people to risk death to save the economy?" Glickman writes. According to him there's a long history to this brand of rhetoric.
"It grew out of the backlash to the New Deal and the social safety net it created, which conservatives viewed as anti-American, anti-capitalist, and emasculating—a challenge to what the historian Richard Hofstadter once called 'the virile prerogatives of enterprise,'" he continues. "But just as few people today believe New Deal liberalism unmanned the country, future generations are unlikely to look back favorably on the campaign against social distancing.'
Read his full op-ed over at The Atlantic.