Museum of America in the Pandemic Year, 2020

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May 26: Twitter puts fact-check labels on tweets by President Trump for the first time. Biden calls Trump a ‘fool’ for mocking face masks

From the cutting room floor...

Alien invasion movies and TV shows like Independence Day or V or Signs have that scene where the invading spaceships appear over multiple cities all at the same time. Inevitably, there comes a moment when all the nations of the world settle their differences, marshal their resources, and turn against the alien oppressors. The whole point of those movies is to show that all of us are in this together. The Lord of the Rings does much the same thing—proud elves, gritty dwarves, greedy humans, aloof ents, clueless hobbits, and inscrutable wizards can all work together, provided there’s a strong enough evil to combat. 

History rarely works like that. FDR, Churchill, and Stalin eventually came together to fight the Axis menace. But they were also terribly divided, with the English and Americans leaving the Soviets to fight alone on the Eastern Front, waiting until June 6, 1944 (by which point the Soviets had already lost 15 million people, had defeated the Germans at Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk, and had the Germans on the run). When asked why the English had not opened the much needed second front sooner, Churchill responded that it would just create a “running sore” for England. 

I’ve always wondered what would actually happen if a truly cataclysmic threat appeared. I once thought a pandemic would work. Now, I’m not so sure.  

The day started with a presidential tweet, unsurprisingly. He rails against people submitting ballots through the mail, claiming that alone will make it a fraudulent election. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington already allow mail-in voting and, despite two hours of digging through the sources, I can find no hard evidence that any of those states have problems with mail-in voter fraud. Trump picks California and frets that “anyone living in the state no matter who they are or how they got there, will get [a ballot].” There is almost no evidence of that happening. Even his supporters can find nothing solid. 

It is newsworthy, right up until the news media starts playing the updates from yesterday. First it’s a story about Ahmaud Arbery’s killers. Then an Amy Cooper who makes a call to the police while in Central Park, falsely claiming that Christian Cooper (no relation) is threatening her. What he really does is ask her to leash her dog, in line with the policies for this part of the park. But she retaliates, emphasizing to the dispatcher that an African American man was threatening her. Her voice escalates in pitch and volume as she repeats the message: “…an AFRICAN AMERICAN MAN….” It’s a talisman. And dangling at the end of it is a Black man dead by police.

Which is exactly what we see out of Minneapolis later in a day that ends up feeling like a pivot point in this pandemic year ….


Read more
Brittany Shammas, Timothy Bella, Katie Mettler, and Dalton Bennett. “Four Minneapolis Officers Are Fired after Video Shows One Kneeling on Neck of Black Man Who Later Died.” Washington Post, May 26, 2020.
NBC News. Watch A Minute-To-Minute Breakdown Leading Up To George Floyd’s Deadly Arrest | NBC News NOW, 2020.

The New York Times. How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody | Visual Investigations, 2020.


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Nir, Sarah Maslin. “White Woman Is Fired After Calling Police on Black Man in Central Park.” The New York Times, May 26, 2020, sec. New York.
Williamson, Kevin D. “The Firm That Fired Amy Cooper Promoted a Male Heir Who Beat His Wife.” New York Post, May 30, 2020.
Elder, John. “Investigative Update on Critical Incident – Minneapolis Police.” Inside MPD, May 26, 2020.
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Additional Links
  • Fisher, Jenny, Jean-Charles Languilaire, Rebecca Lawthom, Rense Nieuwenhuis, Richard J. Petts, Katherine Runswick-Cole, and Mara A. Yerkes. “Community, Work, and Family in Times of COVID-19.” Community, Work & Family 23, no. 3 (May 26, 2020): 247–52.
  • Hood, M. V., and William Gillespie. “They Just Do Not Vote Like They Used To: A Methodology to Empirically Assess Election Fraud*.” Social Science Quarterly 93, no. 1 (January 12, 2012): 76–94.

* Timeline summaries at the top of the page come from a variety of sources:, including The American Journal of Managed Care COVID-19 Timeline (, the Just Security Group at the NYU School of Law (, the “10 Things,” daily entries from The Week (, as well as a variety of newspapers and television programs.