United We Stand

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Happy Fourth of July, America!

It was a very strange Fourth this year, with few public celebrations of our nation’s founding. Here in Tucson, the traditional fireworks show on A Mountain was canceled not only because of the coronavirus, but because of the fear of fire. A thousand firefighters spent the month of June battling the Bighorn Fire in the Catalina Mountains just north of the city. It’s still not totally contained, nor totally extinguished, so the thought of starting another fire is frightening.

But I don’t want to talk about the fire. I’ve done enough of that on Facebook.

No, I want to talk about being proud to be an American, of supporting our nation’s traditional values, and to condemn those who attack them, and by extension, attack all of us.

This has fallen out of favor in recent times. Too many people want to focus on the bad things about our nation and its history. They want to erase significant people, cultural icons, and events and replace them with a political narrative fabricated (yes, I said that) to suit themselves. The hate in our nation, and indeed the world, has become a fire threatening to eradicate all that is good and true about us.

The spark that started this was the murder of George Floyd at the hands of some bad cops. The act was universally denounced as horrendous, and the police involved were removed from the force. You would think that we would have all come together in this situation and vowed to do better in the future.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, rioters joined the throngs of protesters and let loose a surge of lawlessness whose like we haven’t seen in decades. Worse, rather than condemning the violence and the threat to public safety, too many government officials praised the rioters and ordered the police not to interfere.

Needless to say, this demoralized the police everywhere. Those who had always had our backs found that no one had theirs. This was compounded by the movement to defund the police and use the money for social services and “marginalized” communities, as CNN calls them.

In what universe does this make sense?

I’m not disagreeing with trying to work on many of the problems at the source, but eliminating law enforcement seems to leave most people with two choices: barricading themselves in their homes or arming themselves for personal protection. Maybe both. It would be abandoning our streets, parks, and public places to lawlessness.

It is the first responsibility of government in a democratic society to protect and safeguard the lives of its citizens.

This statement, in various forms, goes back to English Common Law, and has been reiterated many times over the centuries. (If you’re the studious type, check out this document from Duke University: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3172&context=dlj )

If we abandon this principle, we are abandoning the very reason government exists. Unless you’re an anarchist, this isn’t something you want to happen.

What I keep trying to figure out is why this reaction at this time? Every other time in our past, when faced with adversity, Americans have banded together to conquer it. This was true during both World Wars. It happens every time a community is destroyed by a tornado or flooding or other natural disaster. Not that we haven’t had disagreements, mind you. But perhaps 9/11 happened too long ago for it to seem real for many people.

I will never forget that day. Radical Islamic terrorists hijacked four commercial flights and flew three of them into buildings that symbolized the strength of America: the two towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Rumor has it that the fourth was targeted for the White House, but by that time passengers on that plane had learned what was happening and fought back, forcing the fourth plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field. They gave their lives to stand for our nation.

And what happened afterwards was no less heartening. People came together to aid the victims, others joined the military with a vow to make those who had done this horrible act pay, people hung flags everywhere: on flagpoles, buildings, and even car windows. It didn’t matter what your race or creed was. We were all Americans. We were all in this together.

Make no mistake, we are now under attack by a less tangible, but no less dangerous enemy. I’m not going to go into a long conspiracy theory rant—although I could (see this for a recent article: https://news.sky.com/story/former-head-of-mi6-says-theory-coronavirus-was-made-in-wuhan-lab-must-not-be-dismissed-as-conspiracy-12021693), and sometimes a conspiracy is the simplest way to explain the facts—but I don’t believe the pandemic was an accident. Certainly, the world’s reaction to it was highly unusual.

Back when I grew up, the only vaccine that everyone got was the one for smallpox. When I was in first grade, medicine came up with one for polio. Other than those two, you just got sick. Everyone got measles and mumps and chicken pox. You got German measles (later renamed to rubella) and sometimes whooping cough and scarlet fever. While all of these could be deadly, the vast majority of children recovered with no lingering effects. (We also ate dirt, but that’s a different blog post.)

We still have a pretty good chance of getting the flu every year, despite educated guesses about what strains will be prevalent and a tailored vaccine each time. Thousands die from the flu, but it doesn’t make headlines.

An interesting piece of data about COVID-19 that hasn’t been mentioned a whole lot is the declining death rate. Despite a horrendous spike in the number of cases in the US (which the media would have us believe has nothing to do with the protests where hundreds, if not thousands of people didn’t practice social distancing or wear masks), the number of deaths has remained consistently low. The graph below is from https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus .

US Corona Virus Number of Cases Versus Number of Deaths

So why the sudden reinstitution of at least a partial shut-down? I can only think that there is some other factor at work that has nothing to do with keeping people safe. The media and the “experts” have heightened the level of fear to such an extent that we voluntarily self-isolate and give up our basic human need for association with other people. With forced unemployment causing financial stress for many as well, is it any wonder the anger is so intense?

Rather than coming together, we have turned that anger on one another.

The cure has indeed become worse than the disease.

We expected the number of cases of coronavirus would rise as we reopened our country. We expected more people would get sick, and yes, that more would die as a result. But it’s a fact of life that we all die eventually. Some of us die on the battlefield. Some in a Pennsylvania field. And some die of old age. I would rather die of coronavirus than of isolation.

I am tired of being quiet for fear of offending someone. Matters are too important right now to worry about that. So I’m going to start speaking up. Because in this country, we still have freedom of speech, and I’m proud to be an American.

1 comment

Helen Weals said...

Thank you, Elise!!

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