Amid a global pandemic and a violent wannabe coup, many Americans are rejecting a common reality. In its wake, partisan polarization and a dangerous aversion to nurturing the common good has thrived.
Amid a global pandemic and a violent wannabe coup, many Americans are rejecting a common reality. In its wake, partisan polarization and a dangerous aversion to nurturing the common good has thrived. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

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If today’s events are any indicator, the dystopian horror show that was 2020 has just been renewed for a second season.

After pro-Trump agitators stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday amid Congressional proceedings to certify the results of the election that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won, the rioters, who falsely claim widespread voter fraud caused Trump’s loss, were cleared from the Capitol building, and order was restored.

But the incident will leave a stain that won’t go away until faith in democracy is brought back and the truth dawns on those who continue to assert these baseless claims of election fraud.

This is the challenge we deal with every day in the news media – large or small, local or national. We are fighting against wave after wave of disinformation and partisan hackery, yet the temptation is clear: The internet provides infinite information sources but leaves its users to navigate a minefield of unverified literature on its own; cable news networks feed viewers mollifying doses of bias-confirming punditry or incite fear and outrage with distortions of current events.

We are all just a bit guilty of seeking out sources whose version of the facts matches our own and reconciling the dissonance between the incontrovertible truth and what we want to believe.

So that’s why it’s with deep angst and frustration that I report to you that more than 2,000 coronavirus cases have been added to the local tally on Wednesday, and four more members of our community have died from the disease known as COVID-19.

Forgive the rant, but I am stressed out as I am sure many of you are. The human toll and far-reaching spread of the virus should have been preventible. It’s been largely surmountable in other countries (mostly not the West), but the fact that it wasn’t in the U.S. and San Antonio is clearly a result of our people’s increasingly disconcerting relationship to the facts.

Now, if this problem were extremely pervasive, we’d be in a much worse spot than we are, but the fact that we all know someone who believes conspiracy theories over credible sources of information is worrisome, to say the very least.

Hearty discourse and spirited debate isn’t just OK, it’s one of the great gifts our founding fathers – and the ethicists and philosophers that came before them – gave us. But this isn’t about clashing opinions; it’s about the vanishing of a shared reality. We’ve learned over these past several months that if we cannot home in on a common enemy (or even acknowledge it exists), it can be the difference between life and death.

Here are the local numbers as of 7 p.m. Wednesday:

  • 126,897 total cases, 2,097 new cases
  • 1,578 deaths, four new deaths
  • 1,341 in hospital, 10% beds available
  • 383 patients in intensive care
  • 199 patients on ventilators, 49% ventilators available
JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez is the San Antonio Report's audience engagement editor.