Letter: 9/11 and the Pandemic

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Is there a pandemic or not?  A little over 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the whole country came together and accepted great sacrifices as a patriotic duty. Now over 3,000 Americans are dying each day from COVID-19, the total number of deaths is well over 300,000 and America has never been more divided. Everyone demands their “constitutional right” to do whatever they want, ignoring the rights of others not just to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but the right to life itself.

Everyone thinks only about their own self-interest. Hair and nail salons protest to protect our inalienable right to a haircut and pretty nails. Religious leaders get the Supreme Courts to let them ignore public health rules and hold large indoor gatherings which we know lead to many super spreader events and many deaths, not just among their own congregations but in the larger community the virus is then spread to. Their indifference to human life in this respect make their calls to respect the right to life look hypocritical.

Restaurant owners protest that there is no “scientific evidence” that restaurant dining leads to more infections and deaths. Well, do they have scientific evidence that it doesn’t? Different numbers are batted around about how many infections and deaths restaurant dining leads to, but a restaurant owner would never serve a single customer a dish he or she knows would cause illness or death. Why so nonchalant about providing a dining experience which does just that?

And for all of us, is the personal inconvenience of wearing a mask really more important than the life of another human being?  Many people seem not to have understood yet that we wear masks not primarily to protect ourselves but to protect others.

Many wrap their self-interest in the language of constitutional rights, freedom and liberty but this is often just a mask for narrow and childish self-regard. Those shouting most loudly about their rights and freedoms, never seem able to weigh them against the rights and freedoms of others.

We all need to see the big picture. We need to do everything possible to stop the spread of illness and death among our countrymen and women. We need a spirit of duty, responsibility, patriotism and sacrifice to get through this pandemic together, not egotism and whining individualism.

Lee Otterholt, Laguna Beach

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