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Whitlock: Uncle Jimmy’s COVID battle teaches me a new lesson about cancel culture and fear

Op-ed
Blaze Media

Yesterday, COVID won. It wrecked my entire day, disturbing my faith that I will get through this pandemic emotionally unscarred and with confidence unfazed. COVID shook my core on Wednesday.

On my drive into work, I called to check on my podcast co-host, Uncle Jimmy. He contracted the virus 10 days ago. He and his two sons, James and Jamil, have been isolating at home. I call Jimmy three or four times per day. Yesterday morning, he sounded relatively strong. We agreed he was "doing better" than the day before.

"I don't feel like I'm going to die," Jimmy laughed.

We hung up the phone. I stepped out of my car, walked into our studio, sat at my desk, popped open my laptop, and then my phone rang. "Jimmy Dodds" flashed on my cell phone. His oldest son's voice greeted me when I answered.

"Hey, Mr. Jason. Dad fainted and landed face first. He's laying on the floor, coughing and gagging. He wants you to come here and take him to the hospital."

I nearly fainted. I felt helpless. I felt emasculated. I was scared.

Trying to calm my nerves and regather the fearless pose I wear every day, I briefly closed my eyes. I'm 54. I'm overweight. I'm scared of COVID. I couldn't think of a way to help my closest friend. I thought of myself. And then I thought of all the people — not named Uncle Jimmy — who depend on me. I panicked.

I stood up, walked into the room where our show's producers work, and wondered which one of them to sacrifice in pursuit of saving Jimmy. I told them what had happened. We agreed we should call an ambulance.

I returned to my office and plotted my next move. Should I leave work and go to the hospital? Which hospital would they take him to? Would they let me inside the hospital, given the COVID restrictions?

I decided to work. I felt useless to help.

In this most divided time, when we absolutely need each other the most, nothing separates us more than COVID. We're afraid to help each other. COVID is the most insidious form of cancel culture.

Uncle Jimmy and his two boys followed me to Los Angeles to work on my television show, "Speak for Yourself." I abruptly left corporate media and California in search of creative autonomy and an environment that would more easily allow me to live out my faith-based worldview. I moved to Nashville a year ago, leaving Jimmy and his boys behind to fend for themselves. Eight months later, they moved here to help me start the "Fearless" project with Blaze Media.

As the kids say, Uncle Jimmy is my "Day One," my "ride-or-die" best friend. COVID knocked him to his knees, and all I could do was tape an interview with rocker-turned-political partisan Ted Nugent and former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. I felt awful.

As soon as I was done, "Jimmy Dodds" flashed on my cell phone. Uncle Jimmy's voice greeted me when I answered.

"Can you come and get me and drive me home from the hospital?" he asked.

I closed my eyes again. I thought about being 54, overweight, and scared. I thought about all the people — not named Uncle Jimmy — who depend on me. I panicked again. I stood up, walked into the room where my producers work, and asked our 33-year-old, 160-pound producer Cory if he would pick Jimmy up from the hospital.

I'm not lying. And I'm not proud.

Cory looked at me as if I'd asked him to catch a fart with his bare teeth. His expression sobered me.

I returned to my office. "Jimmy, how far is the walk home? Aren't you close?"

COVID won. I lost. I'm a loser.
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