My Turn – Don’t let your political beliefs help spread this deadly virus

Submitted by Sam Williams

For more than two months now I’ve avoided commenting on the politics surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic claiming people all around the world. I didn’t want to get caught up in some pointless political argument because I know there are some people whose opinions I can never change no matter what I say or do. But now that we have a confirmed COVID-19 antibody case right here in Lassen County, I would be remiss to remain silent any longer. Someone has to respond to some opinions circulating in Lassen County, and I guess it might as well be me.

You see, until now I’ve chosen not to join the fray and address comments from some very noisy people in our community — including friends of mine — who see absolutely everything in the universe through a partisan, political lens. Before I go on, let me first affirm this is America, and they have that right.

Unfortunately, I do not live in their so-easy-to-navigate, black-and-white, one-way-or-the-other world. I see lots of shades of grey everywhere I look. They may try to convince us otherwise, but we are not either Christian, conservative, patriotic, Republican, freedom-loving, pro-Trump supporters of America or godless, Trump-hating, America-hating, socialist, deep state, evil, liberal Democrats. That’s a completely false choice.

Let’s be real. I believe most of us dwell somewhere in the middle. I hope, but sincerely doubt, those who kneel at the altar of “alternative facts” will grant me the right to hold my own views because I disagree with them. Disagreement with them means fake. I assure you, I am not faking.

Here’s the abyss we’re facing. One formerly law and order pundit mouthpiece in our community recently posted a photograph of a smiling Anne Frank on Facebook with a caption that read, “The law is not a moral compass. The people who hid Anne Frank were breaking the law. The people who killed her were following it.”

Good Lord, there’s that simplistic black or white, either or choice again. On one side we have the good, moral people who refuse to participate in the government’s efforts to stop this virus. They’re like the people who hid Anne Frank. On the other side are the bad, immoral, law-abiding folk who did not join their revolution. They’re like the Nazis who killed Anne Frank.

Obviously, this type of jingoistic unthought arises from deep within the lunatic fringe, and this alleged opinion leader freely hurls this vile, offensive emesis all across our county. As I wrote earlier, it’s probably pointless to debate or discuss this matter with those who hold such views, so I won’t try to change his mind. But there’s a sober reality we all should see shining in the bright light of day.

Like it or not, believe it or not, accept it or not, take action to prevent its spread or not, COVID-19 probably circulates among us now.

Thursday, May 21, according to the Lassen COVID-19 Incident Command, an unidentified resident who reported “no history of illness within the past two months and no current complaint of illness,” tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. That’s not unusual. Experts don’t agree on the numbers, but many people infected with the virus show no symptoms but are still contagious. At this point no one knows how many people this person might have infected. How many people did those people infect? No one knows. And so it goes.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to scare anyone or make some big, profound, political statement here. The simple truth is our county is gradually re-opening, and in the days ahead we’re going to have more and more close contact with each other.

Social distancing, frequent hand washing and mask wearing form the basis of our response to this deadly virus and the best ways to reduce its spread. Remember, I don’t wear a mask to protect me. I wear a mask to protect you. It’s my gift to you.

Call me a Nazi and Anne Frank’s murderer for social distancing, washing my hands and wearing my mask if you like, but I’m deliberately doing everything I can to slow down this killer among us. I encourage everyone in Lassen County to join me. Together we can make a difference if we all do our part to protect our families, our loved ones, our friends and our community.

Think about it for a moment. Isn’t this a very, very small price to pay if you consider the terrible, final and unchangeable alternative we face if COVID-19 spreads through our community like wildfire?