Virus rabble-rousers should be ashamed

Dennis DalmanColumn, Opinion, Print Editions, Print Sartell - St. Stephen, Print St. JosephLeave a Comment

Who but a nasty grinch would not want the American economy to re-open and thrive like gangbusters?

We all want that to happen. Unfortunately, there’s a problem – a highly contagious invisible killer dubbed Covid-19. It’s not done killing yet, and only those who indulge in magical thinking believe it’s going to vanish anytime soon. I have another phrase for “magical thinking” – “stubborn stupidity.”

There are terrible stresses on businesses and employees hurting deeply because of slow-downs, shut-downs, partial closures and stay-at-home isolations. It’s no wonder why many are desperate – frantic even – to re-start economic forces. But doing that too soon could bring on a wave of deaths even worse than the devastation in New York. First we have to get reliable data on how many people are infected and how many are unknowingly harboring the virus and infecting others.

Those who recently demonstrated in Minnesota, Michigan and elsewhere ought to be ashamed of themselves. They foolishly castigated governors for the shut-downs, accusing them of purposely damaging the economy and “taking away our freedoms.”

Among the demonstrators were those who harbor conspiracy theories as toxic as the virus itself. The main theory goes like this: Months ago, Democrats and the media hyped up an ordinary cold/flu virus as some new vicious bug. It was a hoax; it was a plot to destroy America from within. These hoaxsters wanted to shut down the economy in order to make Trump look like a bumbling incompetent know-nothing instead of the wisest, most patriotic of all presidents who finally told it like it is and Made America Great Again.

As the nation tumbles to chaos, these rabble-rousers further claim, the crisis will be an excuse to take away God-given American rights, including – God forbid! – the right to own any and all kinds of guns. And soon – horrors! – America will become a dictatorship run by radical-liberal elites who are so evil that abortion might become mandatory and hunting illegal.

In the meantime, back here in the real world, nurses, doctors and medical technicians are fighting a tireless, courageous battle to keep dying people alive. Many of those medical personnel still have to beg for personal protection equipment, and some became infected and died. As someone said, those selfless medical “soldiers” are fighting a war at the front lines, often without weapons. They deserve our deepest respect and our utmost gratitude, risking their own lives and the lives of their loved ones to help people in such isolation, anguish and pain.

That is why those demonstrators, those scapegoaters, those peddlers of toxic theories should be so ashamed of themselves. Clustered together in streets, they were shouting their fool heads off. They blasted Gov. Tim Walz for his guidelines and hurled insults and threats at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Lock her up!” they jeered. Sound familiar?

One young woman with a smarmy grin on her face held up a placard that proclaimed: “I will NOT comply!” Another sign said, “Hoax! It’s just a common cold virus!”

What’s so ironic is many of those demonstrators who scoff at social distancing (it’s part of the plot, you see), just might have infected one another. If some become gravely ill, will they change their minds, will they adjust their attitudes and will they apologize to those struggling so hard to keep them and all Americans safe? Governors’ guidelines have already helped prevent a wildfire spread of this modern plague. Those guidelines must continue, step by step,  until the economy can begin safely to revive and to thrive again.

What’s happening to the economy is bleak to be sure. But to claim Covid-19 is a hoax and to shout in the midst of a contagion for an immediate re-opening of the economy is not only ill-advised – it is completely irresponsible, not to mention stubbornly stupid, magical thinking.

Author: Dennis Dalman

Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.

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