And so shall a plague cover the land of Trump. That is what these people are saying. They have imbued Covid with moral power and even political authority. For the sins that Trump is apparently being judged for, apparently being sickened for, are fundamentally political ones. It is not merely that he has refused to wear a mask or has questioned the wisdom of lockdowns. Enforced masking and the shutdown of economic life that we have seen across much of the Western world are strategies about which it is entirely legitimate (or ought to be) to have differing points of view, to have reasoned, rational debates about efficacy and impact. No, Trump’s chief sin is a larger one than that: it is that he has bristled against the rule of experts and the contemporary liberal orthodoxy that says science has all the answers to our political and moral problems. This is the true thoughtcrime for which Covid has apparently infected Trump…

This is what’s really going on here: Covid’s judgment, this plague-like retribution, is being marshalled by the old technocratic elites as a cudgel against what are presumed to be Trumpworld’s chief moral errors. The scepticism about lockdown, the broader doubting that experts have all the answers to our moral and political dilemmas, their temerity to clarify the huge political differences between ordinary people and the woke elites (what CNN refers to as ‘the sickness of hyper-partisanship’) – this is what the plague is apparently admonishing. Isn’t that funny? That a random virus should give retributive voice to the pre-existing views and prejudices of the liberal elites? The progressive view embodied by Sontag – that disease is ‘not a curse, not a punishment, not an embarrassment – without meaning’ – has been replaced by the view of Covid as lethal reproachment for the sins of Trumpism, the ills of politics, and the thoughtcrimes of dissenters in 21st-century America.