Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hogs Redux

Today’s news: there are people in Howard County who feel oppressed because other people are called essential workers and they aren’t. As a reminder, essential workers include everyone involved in hospital/medical care, and the folks who make sure you are able to get food and medicine. Oh, and childcare for other essential workers.

Why is it necessary to have an essential worker designation? Well, because we are fighting a disease that has no vaccine and no reliable treatment protocols. In addition, testing, contact tracing, and the availability of PPE are currently insufficient. Under present conditions, limiting who is out and about and in contact with others is the best public health strategy available.

And that’s exactly what the Governor said. Right up until he didn’t.

Back to Howard County. In the same vein as those who turned up in Annapolis with their matching yellow t-shirts (Hogging the Limelight) now we have a local group who want to turn up in Old Ellicott City to proclaim:

I am essential!

An editorial comment:

The same kinds of people who decry “participation trophies” are sure bent out of shape right now that they’re not getting any.

The group, named “Reopen Howard County” announced big plans to stage a protest on Main Street in Old Ellicott City. Merchants in Old Ellicott City responded in dismay and alarm. Wouldn’t you think that leaders of the group would have made sure that a protest, which they claimed was to support businesses on Main Street, was welcome before they announced it? The fact that they clearly did not understand the concerns of Main Street merchants is a big “tell” on their motives.

Further examination of the group’s Facebook page indicates what it’s really about:  politics. The fact that almost anyone who disagrees with the group’s official narrative is either deleted or labeled as a “Calvin Ball surrogate” or “operative” lets you know what this is about. Reopen Howard County is pretty much the “We hate Calvin Ball” page.

In case you had any doubts, the group’s admin gave these instructions to potential protestors:

“This is not a political rally.”

I’ll pause to let that sink in.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that pushback from Main Street merchants and the Old EC community convinced the organizer to move the planned protest: to the Courthouse. Will they wear masks? Will they observe physical distancing? Will they come “ready to fight”?  I can’t answer that.

Will they be doing anything that makes Howard County safer, healthier, more able to respond to a public health crisis that has far reaching economic consequences? That one I can answer: no.

At the risk of repeating myself:

We are all familiar with the oft-quoted “look for the helpers” advice from the late children’s television pioneer Fred Rogers. This morning I’d like to add a corollary. If, in times of crisis, you see people thrusting themselves into the limelight to say “Look at me! I’m special!” those people are not the helpers.

They are the takers, not the givers. And they are making all of us, not simply themselves, less safe.

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