In a February 18 opinion piece for Foreign Policy, the Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist Laurie Garrett accuses former President Trump of pandemicide, a word she does not define but which in context clearly means “causing death by means of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Had I been a member of the House of Representatives during the body’s impeachment deliberations, I would have added to Trump’s indictment the crime of pandemicide, naming him as responsible for most of the COVID-19 deaths that transpired while he, the nation’s leader, was preoccupied with damning Joe Biden’s election victory. Trump’s failure to, as he vowed in his oath of office, “faithfully execute the office of president of the United States” promulgated a scale of lives lost exceeding anything experienced in the country since the Civil War, 160 years ago.
Pandemicide is a new word, although Garrett is not the first person to use it. In September 2020, David Bookbinder, a psychotherapist who lives near Boston, published an essay (also released as a free e-book) titled “Pandemicide,” in which he makes an argument similar to Garrett’s: that throughout the pandemic, “Trump & Company have encouraged the virus’s spread”:
This was not denial, not incompetence, not accidental. Not even manslaughter, because manslaughter is unpremeditated. It is pure, cold-blooded murder-by-virus.