Apple News Facebook Twitter 新浪微博 Instagram YouTube Wednesday, Mar 15, 2023

First question to American politicians: Do elderly people have the right to life?

(People's Daily Online)    12:58, May 08, 2020

A question to American politicians: Do elderly people have the right to life?

The right to life is a basic human right. When disasters occur, how a country protects the rights of its most vulnerable group demonstrates the governing philosophy and ability of a ruling party, as well as how civilized a society is.

Ben Shapiro, who works at a right-wing American media outlet, recently put forward an absurd question: do elderly Americans have the right to live longer than they should do under COVID-19?

“If somebody who is 81 dies of COVID-19, that is not the same thing as somebody who is 30 dying of COVID-19…If grandma dies in a nursing home at age 81, that's tragic and it's terrible, also the life expectancy in the United States is 80", said Shapiro, an editor-in-chief with the pro-Republican news website Daily Wire.

His cold-blooded words, which bases the value of human life on age and suggests that elderly Americans above a certain age should abandon treatment, drew widespread criticism on social media.

Has human society fallen back to the stage where the treatment of elderly patients has to rely on the natural rules of social Darwinism — that is, the concept of survival of the fittest? Shapiro’s words are astonishing, especially at a time when the U.S. government is eager to reopen society while COVID-19 is still rampant in the country.

The data and facts paint a grim picture. More than 16,000 residents and staff have died of COVID-19 in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the U.S., according to USA Today.

According to data released by New York State on May 4, at least 4,813 people have died in the state’s nursing homes and care facilities, with one nursing home reporting 71 deaths.

On April 29, The Atlantic published an article titled “We're Literally Killing Elders Now”. The article pointed out that the United States is pushing the elderly and the vulnerable to death first because of the structural deficiencies of long-term care institutions in the country, such as underinvestment, lack of employees, and low wages, and second because of the U.S. government’s lack of a response.

Even after 40 residents of a Seattle nursing home died of the disease, American health officials failed to give priority to testing and comprehensive care for staff and employees of other care institutions across the country.

“Nursing-home residents aren’t getting half of our resources or half of our attention, yet they account for roughly half the deaths,” said David Grabowski, a health-care policy professor at Harvard Medical School. This, he said, reveals—or maybe reinforces—a devastating truism about American society that “We don’t value their lives as much as other people’s.”

Jim Wright, the medical director of a publicly funded nursing home in Virginia, was even more blunt. ‘We’re literally killing elders now, through our lack of funding,” he pointed out, adding that public nursing homes have become places where many people are tortured to death by the coronavirus.

The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal. But in the face of the coronavirus, one cannot help but ask: Do Americans have rights and freedoms when they grow old?

When the world’s only superpower cannot afford to save its senior citizens due to “a lack of funds”, and when Republicans tell society to give up on saving elderly patients, the real human rights logic of capitalist America is exposed— human rights is not about the right to choose between life and death, but about money.

For American politicians, when it comes to real lives, human rights are merely empty words.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

Add your comment

We Recommend

Most Read

Key Words