Discussing the Symptoms of COVID Culture, Donald Trump, and the American “Empire” with Wade Davis

October 8, 2020

By Izzy Almasi & Mark Leiren-Young

Does Donald Trump’s irresponsible response to COVID mean the American Era is over? Wade Davis, the best-selling author and world-renowned anthropologist, thinks America’s response to COVID is a symptom that the country is diseased.

“America was the land of Walt Whitman, the Grateful Dead. Abraham Lincoln couldn’t tell a lie. The current president cannot recognize the truth,” David told the Skaana podcast. “If Lincoln called for charity for all and malice toward none, this dark troll of a buffoon, advocates for malice towards all and charity for none.”

Best known for his books like One River and the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize Winner Into the Silence, Davis made international headlines when he published an article in Rolling Stone titled “How Covid-19 Signals the End of the American Era” that went viral. According to the CBC, the article made nearly 10 million impressions on social media within a week of publication.

“COVID reveals what has been lost. In the same way that Donald Trump didn’t cause any of this, he’s a symptom of the decline… When you look at Americans who deny the science, who deliberately ignore the advice of the medical authorities, who in masses go to beaches and conventions and bars, they think they’re flaunting their strength in their freedom. They’re actually showing the weakness of a people that lack the stoicism to endure the pandemic or the fortitude to defeat it.”

As someone who specializes in the study of human culture, Davis knows that the types of challenges we are facing are not uncommon or unheard of in humanity’s history. In fact, humans tend to repeat ourselves. “The fluidity of memory and our capacity to forget is the most haunting trait of our species,” says Davis. “That’s how we’re able to adapt to almost any degree of environmental or even moral degradation.”

Although his latest book, Magdalena, is about the Magdalena river in Colombia and its ties to Colombian culture, history and ecology, Davis felt he had to share his thoughts on America before the US election on November 4th. “I travel always in pursuit of stories. I’m a storyteller. And, for me, research in the field has always been wondrous, but so too has been research in libraries and archives,” says Davis. “COVID is not a story of medicine. It’s not a story of morbidity and mortality. It’s a story of culture.”

And, in America, it’s also a horror story.


Visit the USAGov website to learn more about how to register to vote and how to prepare for the November 4th election to ensure that your voice is heard.


Visit Spotifywww.skaana.orgApple Podcasts, or StitcherSkaana’s interview with Wade Davis will be a two-part special focusing on America under Trump. Be sure to check out the Rolling Stone article. Click here for books by Wade Davis – including Magdalena: River of Dreams.


If you’d like to hear more from the Skaana Pod, tune in to Orca Bites every Monday! And share your favourite whale memories or your stories of the first time you ever saw a whale on our Anchor platform.


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