Making Streets Into Food Courts
A week ago, December 27, 2020, we left our small town motel room to find a coffee shop. What we found was a mixture of delight and trouble. A block away, we turned onto a side street that had been blocked off to enable local eateries to create outdoor dining spaces. Gas fireplaces surrounded by bright red plastic Adirondack chairs filled the street along with a few tents that were too enclosed for our comfort. People were seated at several of the fireplaces, sufficiently spaced to permit masks to be removed. Won’t work as well in the rain, but it was a pleasant cup of coffee.
Determined “Freedom Fighters”
That’s the delightful bit. We went in to the nearby coffee shop to find two tables full of maskless people drinking coffee and chatting away. Although you need to wear a mask to order (people did, but I don’t know if you’d have been refused if you didn’t), apparently no one cares once you’ve paid. That’s the trouble. This resistance to pandemic safety measures, in coffee shops and elsewhere, gives the term “freedom fighters” a bad name.
Enforcing Concern for Others
I don’t envy small business owners and their employees. We count on their compliance with pandemic safety measures, but really, we shouldn’t expect them to be our enforcers. Some, of course, proudly advertise their refusal to comply with safety measures. Most try, but if customers refuse to comply, what can they do? Well, they might mimic some of their larger competitors such as Starbucks and simply remove the chairs and rope off the tables. Seems to work for the big guys. I suppose that some groups of determined non-compliers would “stand their ground” and drink and eat while standing, but it could help.
Concern for Others?
Didn’t you once think that concern for others is a universal value? Isn’t it one of those things without which society ceases to function? Isn’t parenting modeling this concern from the get go, and don’t we all have parents?
How has “my freedom trumps your health and welfare” become a dominant theme with so many Americans? Yes, I get that individual freedom is a long-standing value in our American experiment, but I’m pretty sure that my freedom used to end at your nose. I.e., I have a lot of freedom, but I can’t harm you in the process of enjoying my freedom. Now, we have law enforcement officers selectively refusing to enforce laws, passed by representative governments at various levels, that they don’t agree with. Restrictions on assault weapons and pandemic safety measures come to mind.
I Don’t Envy Joe Biden
Assuming for the moment that Joe Biden actually gets sworn in on January 20, how does he shift the momentum? I’m hoping that the press dumps Trump immediately after the inauguration; any coverage of his antics must leave his name out. Let DJT operate in an internet enabled sphere of fandom (where he can earn more than you’d imagine). Please can the much maligned mainstream media focus on Biden, Congress, foreign news, and serious proposals for improving lives here and around the world.
Much is being written about the mess the Republican Party is in, but the good news is that there are serious former Republicans who are anxious to work with Biden. True, they’re not anxious to work with the Progressive Caucus, but there are plenty of Democrats they’d like to chat up. (I’m fascinated by the fact that western Washington is home to both Pramila Jayapal, who heads up the Progressive Caucus, and Suzan DelBene who heads up to New Democrat Coalition.)
One bit of good news is that former moderate Republicans recognize that the national debt, while something they care about, is not of primary concern during an emergency such as our pandemic afflicted economy. It’s worth reading some of their work to get a sense of their take on various issues; I suggest The Bulwark for starters. Wherever they are on the issues, their primary focus right now is figuring out how to enable more conservative or center-right politicians who still have some integrity to get back into the game.
I Disagree With Biden
Sadly, I find that I disagree with Biden on one of his priorities already: the Equality Act. Bet you’re staring at those words wondering where I’ve gone off the rails, aren’t you. I’ll do my best to explain.
Look for a longer post soon on this bill, but suffice it say that my concerns stem from my desire to protect women’s spaces and women’s sports. Men who seek to identify as women are not required, in my state and many others, to do anything to actually transition in order to claim the status of “woman.” This self-ID provision concerns me. Furthermore, the Equality Act (H.R. 5 during the last Congress) protects queer people, and what the bleep are queer people? Well, more soon on this matter.
Resisting the Resistance
Four years ago, I added the tag line, “A Resistance Blog” to my blog name. With this election, I sense the need to modify that. It will now be, “Resisting the Resistance.” I’m not a Trump supporter, but I don’t feel comfortable with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party either. I think I do support some policies that would be considered to be progressive, but the social justice warriors have lost me. I’m seriously concerned about preserving the right to free speech, the right to disagree, to challenge ideology, to refuse indoctrination.
I’d also like to preserve the right to counsel and right to present a defense for those accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault on college campuses. It never made sense to me that young men (mostly) lost these legal rights for alleged actions that occur on campus. Score one for Betsy De Vos. These issues have to be priorities starting at noon on January 20 with Biden’s inauguration (along with health care, restoring the State Department, and tackling Covid).
You said “How has “my freedom trumps your health and welfare” become a dominant theme with so many Americans?” So, according to you, I have to be masked so you can spend time at a cafe. How about you being enough concerned about your own health and welfare that you stay home?
Thanks for the response. For what it’s worth, I don’t spend any time at cafes during current Covid conditions. I do get takeout, such as at the coffee shop I mentioned. I long for the time when we can safely get back to normal socializing. Covid is unusual because it seems that it can spread before people are truly aware of having it. I’m going to assume that if you knew you were sick, you’d avoid people so as not to spread germs, but this is different because we’re being asked to wear masks when we don’t know we’re sick.
I’m not dogmatic about how we should manage during Covid. I’ve watched the Swedish experiment with great interest because their goal was to try to find a balance between shutting down the economy and preventing the spread of a virus we knew little about at the beginning. Given the data that’s emerging, I’m not sure I’d adopt that model, but I do certainly care about the economic impacts of Covid.
My sense overall is that we are all muddling through a complex situation in which there are no perfect answers. Wearing a mask doesn’t seem onerous to me, so I’m willing to do that. No one is being jailed for refusing where I live, but if it can bring down Covid cases, save some lives, and enable the economy to open up, I say, let’s do it for each other.