The Rostow Report by Ann Rostow


We read the latest best seller about Churchill and then watched three World War II movies, feeling better about our current predicament which seems quite a bit better than the blitz.


WHAT HAPPENED?

I always check my previous column before I start a new one in order to make sure I don’t repeat a topic that arrived on the cusp of the last deadline. God forbid that I’d make you suffer through an analysis of the Catholic Social Services’ antigay petition to the Supreme Court twice, let alone recap the harrowing tale of the gay cannibal once again. 

But it was jarring to see that I never mentioned coronavirus. Did I know about it? I think so. Did I consider it “off topic?” I guess I did. Did I recognize that within a month we’d be plunged into a global pandemic that would close down the country, force us into a national quarantine and presage tens of thousands of American deaths? Um, no! 

But here we are, along with a large chunk of the rest of the world, sharing a bizarre existence of binging television shows and washing our hands multiple times a day for no reason. I say for no reason because my wife and I are washing our hands reflexively even as we have had no contact with any conceivable source of contamination. 

We follow airport rules here, with cocktails at ten, trashy paperback novels at hand and naps whenever we feel like it. We watch MSNBC until we can’t stand it any longer, muting the sound whenever Trump or Pence appears at the lectern. Then it’s back to Season Four of Billions or Picard on CBS All Access. We tried to watch the Netflix show about the gay nutcase who raised tigers, but one episode was enough. Why is this man’s random weirdness getting all these great reviews? 

We read the latest best seller about Churchill and then watched three World War II movies, feeling better about our current predicament which seems quite a bit better than the blitz, let alone the specter of being overrun by Nazis. That said, at least the Londoners of 1940 had nightclubs and fine restaurants to lift their spirits.   


IN GOD THEY TRUST

Gay news has been effectively subsumed by the pandemic. I can find some GLBT headlines if I look hard enough. But it’s hard to care. One thing that caught my eye was the decision by the holier-than-thou owners of Hobby Lobby, who have kept many of their 900 stores open and their employees in jeopardy, even defying shutdown orders from numerous governors. 

David Green, the CEO who successfully pushed his faith-based objections to birth control health insurance to the Supreme Court, recently sent a letter to staff: “While we do not know for certain what the future holds, or how long this disruption will last,” he wrote, “we can all rest in knowing that God is in control.” Meanwhile, he has positioned his arts and crafts stores as “essential businesses,” leading the Attorney General of Colorado to send a cease and desist letter, and sending the cops in Milwaukee in to shut down his stores by force. The company has also clashed with authorities in Ohio, North Carolina and Indiana. 

Over at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr. has kept his Lynchburg, Virginia, campus open, even as the governor has closed state schools and issued a statewide closure for all nonessential businesses. Nearly 2,000 students returned to Liberty after Falwell’s initial announcement, although half of those have since left again and at least a dozen have showed symptoms according to a university doctor. 

Meanwhile, I could give you a list of far right idiots who have blamed gays for the pandemic, much as they’ve blamed us and our sinful allies for hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and forest fires.  

I find myself having to summon my deepest and most elusive human sympathies in order to stop myself from rooting against these craven individuals, but I make the effort because the students at Liberty and the staff at Hobby Lobby do not deserve my ill will. 


SPUD STATE HALF-BAKED

So, I guess Pride is basically cancelled this year, here and around the world. Our festive parades and good natured debaucheries will go the way of March Madness, the Masters, the French Open, Wimbledon and the many annual highlights of spring and summer that once cast their lights at the end of winter’s tunnel. 

I read something about a virtual global pride celebration, but I didn’t even bother to look at the details because, well, let’s face it, “virtual pride celebration” is a contradiction in terms. I thought to myself, Ann, you should read this article so that you can tell your readers what to expect. And then I thought, hell with it. We’re in a pandemic! 

I confess that I felt the same way about two anti-trans laws in Idaho, where the governor has signed a ban on transgender girls competing against cis-girls in sports as well as another law that prohibits transgender men and women from getting a revised birth certificate. You have to wonder, with everything that’s going on, how does Idaho have the time and energy to be passing anti-trans legislation? Just thinking about this triggers the dark part of my soul that wants Idaho to suffer, and I am again obliged to call upon my better angels to overcome this small-mindedness. 

Speaking of transgender news, I noticed a case out of Portsmouth, Ohio, where a professor at Shawnee State University deliberately refused to use female pronouns for a transgender woman student, violating the school’s anti-discrimination policy for what he claimed were religious reasons. Nicholas Meriwether received a written warning for continuously calling this student “Mr.” whatever, and using male pronouns. He then filed a grievance, which he lost, and went on to file a lawsuit in federal court, which was just dismissed. Now, he’s barreling forward with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom by appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. 

I feel a black cloud closing around my heart where Professor Meriwether is concerned and I can’t fight it anymore.


AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

Finally, I have a new list of irritating TV commercials for your consideration, led by the one for a product called “just crack an egg.” This seems to be a container of something, potatoes maybe, into which you crack an egg and then throw it into the microwave. Presumably, the end result is preferable to the old school method of “just cracking an egg” into a frigging pan on the frigging stove with some butter and whatever else you want. 

Is that really so hard? Is it really worth not having to clean one pan and one dish? Yes, it will take an additional three minutes, but on the other hand, it will be edible and it will consist of actual food rather than God knows what from a plastic cup that came from who knows where, contains freeze-dried mystery ingredients and has been sitting in a grocery store for weeks.   

I see that this brief rant has brought me to the close of this column, but it has made me feel slightly better than I did at the start. Keep your heads up, FIGHT readers. May next month find us on the right side of the curve.


arostow@aol.com