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Zirpoli: Trump is on to something. No test, no report, no problem. | COMMENTARY

President Donald Trump really is a “stable genius” as he once called himself. He has discovered a “cure” for almost every disease known to man. It was so simple, or simple-minded, that the rest of us missed this magical cure that was right under our noses.

His discovery is quite simple: If you stop testing for a disease, it goes away. In his own words, “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” the president said when asked about the rising number of cases of COVID-19 in America. It seems to me that Trump’s solution could be a game-changer for many other diseases and conditions that have plagued our world for centuries.

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Imagine a world without cancer. Well, now we can. Just follow Trump’s advice. “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any.” And, of course, Trump believes that what we don’t know can’t hurt his reelection chances.

The liberal haters can’t bear giving Trump credit for his astonishing discovery. Twitter went crazy with interesting responses.

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Kevin Allman tweeted, “And if we got rid of the bathroom scale, I’d fit into skinny jeans.” Gregory Zuckerman tweeted, “When I was struggling in math, I kept telling teachers to stop testing me.” Dana Schwartz added, “If I don’t check my bank account, the problem doesn’t exist!”

Michael Green wanted to know if his cavities would go away “if we got rid of X-rays” and Erica Pishdadian asked, “Does this work with student loans?” All good questions. I think the Trump remedy works with cavities, but I’m not sure about student loans.

Trump seems to believe that if it is out of sight, it is not only out of mind, it doesn’t exist.

He is like the infant who has not yet developed object permanence or the understanding that objects continue to exist even if they cannot be seen. Until then, when the child drops something from their highchair, if they can no longer see the object, they believe that it has disappeared. After all, they can’t see it and so, it must not exist. Sometime between 4 and 7 months, however, most babies figure out that just because something is out of sight does not mean that it isn’t there anymore.

Some people, however, never developed object permanence and we see this on display throughout American society today. Take racism, for example, or police brutality. Some adults need video evidence, otherwise, they don’t believe these things exist. And even with video evidence, some people still don’t want to believe what their lying eyes are telling them. This particular disability has nothing to do with object permanence, however. These issues are caused by ignorance and racism.

Some people have selective object permanence. With this condition, a person is selective in what they want to see and what they don’t want to see. For example, when it comes to Americans protesting police brutality, some folks are very capable of seeing the looters, but police brutality remains a blur to them. And they frequently use their hypersensitivity to looting to disguise their approval of the brutality. It is quite the mind trick and requires some cognitive dissonance.

Trump displays selective object permanence when he sees “very fine people on both sides,” or when he sees a peaceful person kneeling in protest as an insult to the American Flag. Like an infant, he is unable to understand what is beyond his world view. When he looks at fancy confederate statutes, he sees only the fancy statute; he has little understanding of the history of the statute or what the statute represents or communicates, especially to people of color.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has taken Trump’s lack of object permanence even further. Because of the soaring numbers of infections under his watch, he has ordered hospitals to stop reporting the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive-care unit beds. Since these patients have already been tested positive for COVID-19 — too late to be ignored by not testing — DeSantis has adopted the “no reporting” rule, instead.

The result is the same, at least in his mind: If you don’t report it, it isn’t there. Problem fixed.

Of course, not reporting the number of people in intensive care beds will not reduce the number of people in intensive care beds any more than not testing for COVID-19 will reduce the number of people infected. For Trump and DeSantis, however, it is all about appearances. You know, like wearing a mask.

Tom Zirpoli is the program coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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