I consider Mr. McCool a friend and supported his 2020 candidacy for Front Royal Mayor. Mr. McCool’s willingness to permit Mr. Bianchini to post editorial opinions that may be inconsistent with his own is a testament to Mr. McCool’s commitment to the First Amendment.
With that said, there is history between Mr. Bianchini and me since we’re on opposite ends of the political spectrum. On more than one prior occasion he has authored counter perspectives to Letter to the Editor postings I’ve published. Previously, his editorial comments on my posts were made via a separate and distinct follow-up letter under his name. I acknowledge his right to post viewpoints contrary to mine, however, instead of publishing a separate letter with his editorial comments this time, he chose to attach them at the end of my posted letter.
This technique was unprecedented, and in my opinion, was a scurrilous attempt to discredit my comments without me having an opportunity to promptly rebut them so I voiced a complaint to the Senior Editor and requested that Mr. Bianchini’s response be removed from my posting. My request was granted and you now see Mr. Bianchini’s comments as a separate post on the Royal Examiner site instead of having been initially attached to my letter. Having provided this preface, I want to specifically address Mr. Bianchini’s editorial post.
His first comment relates to my assertion that ‘individual freedom’ is a core principle of the Constitution. He references some goals stated in the preamble and focuses particularly on the goal to promote the general welfare and states that the individual freedom text is not specifically referenced. However, he conveniently overlooks the fifth goal, and secure the blessing of liberty…, which is synonymous with individual freedom in my mind, when he claimed there were only four goals.
It’s no coincidence that Mr. Bianchini focuses on the general welfare goal because I think that is consistent with the progressive ideology which has over expansive government at its core, regardless of the ill consequences associated with such a concept and at the expense of individual freedom. My interpretation of Mr. Bianchini’s first comment is that it implies that the massive government social programs expansion in the Reconciliation Bill is intended to further the general welfare promotion goal in the Constitution’s preamble. The problem there is that the advertised cost of the Bill is deceptive in that economists have warned that it is partially paid for with dubious accounting techniques and suspect revenue estimates.
The Bill’s cost has been advertised at 3. 5 trillion dollars but there are sources that project the real cost at over 5 trillion dollars. This is totally understandable because who can trust numbers from politicians with an unquenchable thirst for spending money others have earned? This proposed gargantuan spending Bill has been reported to be the largest spending proposal in our history. It is in addition to the trillions of dollars of prior approved Covid spending and more than a trillion dollars proposed for legitimate infrastructure spending under consideration now by Congress.
The Federal budget for 2021 is approximately 4.9 trillion dollars with over 2 trillion expected to be deficit spending. Thus, the Reconciliation Bill would create an economic nightmare. The public is already witnessing inflation and grossly expanded deficit spending would almost certainly increase inflation. The country has over 28 trillion dollars of debt and no credible plan exists to address that liability. Our massive debt is being passed to future generations to address and both Parties are responsible.
Throughout history, socialist governments have consistently shown to be abject failures. You might recall that the definition of stupid is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’! Democrats claiming this Bill would promote the general welfare fail to recognize the consistent historical disasters of socialism. The expansion of government that the Reconciliation Bill represents is a substantial transition towards socialism. Socialism is a philosophy alluring in principle but has proved to be unsuccessful in real-world practice.
What is being witnessed in Cuba now is a perfect example of the effects of total government control versus a system based on capitalism and individual freedom. Isn’t it ironic that the Cuban people are screaming for liberty when freedom is at greater risk in America than ever before? I heard it said somewhere that, ‘ if socialism is so successful, then why are people attempting to escape it in boats constructed from trash’?
Also, the first ten Constitutional amendments, (Bill of Rights) is a crucial part of our guiding document, and affirm many individual liberties as opposed to the granting of government authority and control. Readers can judge whether Mr. Bianchini intentionally ignored the sections of the Constitution I referenced above, was a benign oversight, or that he might be blinded by underlying support for a progressive ideology.
Mr. Bianchini’s second comment takes issue with my statement that only half of America voted for Joe Biden. He reports that Joe Biden registered 7 million more votes than Trump, who in 2016 received 3 million fewer votes than his opponent. Biden is credited with receiving 51.3% of the November 2020 cast votes, so technically that is only SLIGHTLY more than half. His comment also changed my fractional reference (half, 1/2) to a digital vote count (apples/oranges), which injects confusion in my opinion, whether intended or not. Mr. Bianchini fails, in what I believe, is an attempt to suggest, that if my comments weren’t 100% accurate then my other arguments should be suspect as well, a tactic he has unsuccessfully employed relative to at least one of my prior Royal Examiner posts. I also see this as a common technique used by Democrats that is infrequently successful in fooling readers.
Democrats rarely give the public the credit it deserves in their commonsense ability to separate misinformation from the truth. Also, I think he tries to employ the sly tactic of distraction to discredit my statement that Democrats have no mandate in their effort to grossly transform America. The distraction being a shift to referencing other information that doesn’t contradict the reality that Americans voted to expand conservative influence in the House, as I said, regardless that the vote count details he offered were accurate.
In the end, I make no retraction regarding my half of America statement because it is generally correct and logically supports my opinion that Democrats have no mandate for transformative change. Only a fool or one with a serious bias cannot recognize that capitalism, free markets, and liberty have produced the best quality of life on the planet for people and provide opportunities for everyone to attain their dreams. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!
One other factor that is relevant to his second comment is that the 2020 vote count included illegal votes. Article II, Section I of the Constitution clearly designates election procedure authority as the exclusive domain of state legislatures. Secretaries of states, Governors, and state judges have no election procedures authority that is not legislatively granted.
There is irrefutable evidence that voting activities occurred in 2020 in several states that were inconsistent with procedures approved by their legislatures which resulted in illegal votes that could have influenced the election outcome.
Democrats have repeatedly labeled that as the big lie from the former President with the full-throated support of the biased social and mainstream media who censure conservative opinions and ignore truths that do not support a progressive narrative. It’s a tactic that if something is repeated enough times it can actually influence public perception. I’m doubtful that the 2020 election will be objectively and thoroughly investigated while Democrats maintain control of the Executive and Legislative branches of government because it might undercut their legitimacy. Also, how odd is it that Democrats obsess on making negative arguments involving the prior President, now out of office for over 6 months, when there are so many failings with the present Administration that are ignored?
Mr. Bianchini’s third comment attempts to diminish the advancements made by Republicans in the House of Representatives in 2020 by shifting the focus to the fact that Republicans are no longer the Senate majority. The Senate is now comprised of 49 Democrats and 50 Republicans. One Senator from Vermont is not technically in the Democrat party but caucuses with them which results in a 50-50 Senator count. Since Vice President Harris is a Democrat and can vote to break ties, the Democrats function as the Senate majority. Loss of the majority by Republicans in the Senate in no way diminishes their gains in the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives is called the People’s House because its members are subject to election every 2 years rather than the 6 Year term of Senators. Thus, the House is seen by many political experts to be more reflective of the political leaning of the American public. Had the Democrats made gains in their representation in the House, they would have a better claim to have a mandate, but the opposite is true. Thus, I feel my argument on the issue remains valid.
Mr. Bianchini’s last comment is directed against my criticism of the Democrat’s inclusion of an amnesty provision for illegal aliens in the proposed Reconciliation Bill. He does so indirectly by asserting that the prior Administrations’ immigration policies unfairly limited access without providing evidence. I’m doubtful any subsequent effort he might make to provide clarification would represent all aspects of the issue but would only attempt to justify a progressive narrative. He goes all-in with the allegation that the prior administration was responsible for immigrants being illegal when the truth is that they are illegal because they don’t adhere to laws that dictate that they present themselves at established border entry points, where adequate staff and resources are available to address asylum applicants rather than anywhere else.
The fact is that the prior Administration instituted policies to enforce existing laws that had been established by both Democrat and Republican governments. Social and mainstream media bias and control have prevented the general public from being fully informed about the reality of our southern border crisis for political purposes.
While we graciously welcome 1 million legal immigrants into our country each year, we’ve recorded over 1.2 million persons seeking asylum at our southern border already in 2021 at multiple crossing points and evidence exists that most won’t meet the lawful criteria for asylum. That figure doesn’t even reflect the unknown number, termed ‘get aways’, who purposely evaded Border authorities and are now embedded in our communities.
The infamous Wall was not a structure to prevent potential legitimate refugees from attempting legal access to this country but was intended to guide them to staffed entry locations where they could be properly assessed and lawfully processed.
The present Administration has blatantly abandoned its duty to enforce existing immigration law. President Biden terminated international agreements and procedures instituted by the previous Administration that safeguarded America’s sovereignty and protected our citizens. Biden’s open border policy endangers national security, subjects American citizens to increased criminality, enables drug cartels to expand their influence, and causes a substantial risk to those seeking to immigrate here with assistance from ‘coyotes’ and gangs.
Permitting persons from every country in the world to come across our southern border at any location without adequate controls also introduces unnecessary health risks to Americans at a particularly tenuous time, imposes a significant economic burden, and adds strain to our education system which already has enough challenges.
Granting amnesty to all illegal aliens in this country would amount to rewarding them for their disrespect of our laws, encourage more illegal immigration and present a tax burden to existing citizens who would have to fund social programs those new citizens would qualify for. The unprecedented number of new asylum seekers caused by candidate Biden’s invitation gives foreign criminals free rein to smuggle drugs and undesirables into our country.
Fentanyl smuggled from China has dramatically spiked overdoses which have killed tens of thousands of Americans. It is logical to deduce that Democrats are willing to accept all the shortcomings of the southern border crisis because of the potential for future election benefits. It’s shameful that the Democrat party doesn’t seem to be as concerned about existing citizens as they are about people from other countries, but expanding their political power seems to be their priority.
Considering all the shortcomings with Mr. Bianchini’s response to my letter to Senator Manchin that I’ve brought to light here, I’ll carefully scrutinize any editorial comments or news reporting published by him in the future. I’m convinced his July 26 posting purposefully intended to sow doubt in the accuracy of the arguments made in my July 25 post because it was inconsistent with his political beliefs when my comments here demonstrate that his reaction is what actually qualifies as misinformation.
However, I do want to applaud him though for his transparency, in my opinion, by so boldly clarifying his support of progressive ideology which I believe conflicts with the majority conservative perspective of our community. Additionally, I hope Mr. McCool gives greater scrutiny to Mr. Bianchini’s editorials in the future when they may not fully represent the opinions of his online media and potentially damage his standing in the community.
A vaccination decision made
This ‘vaccinate or not to’ vaccination decision has caused division between families, friends, neighbors, and others. This is a message I sent to two of my dearest friend’s requests as to why I got the vaccination.
In no way did I mean that you don’t believe this pandemic is not real.
I also have my beliefs in the Holy Spirit to guide and lead me in my decisions. I have been a rebel for most of my life when it comes to natural health and well-being. I have been able to dodge most of the illnesses that plague us mortals. Eating healthy, exercising, and having a relationship with my creator has blessed me with living a healthy life. To take any shots for anything was always my last resort.
It was not until I turned 60 that my attitude changed. It came during my physical that my trusted doctor laid some harsh facts on me.
He said you have lived a very healthy life, but unfortunately your body is aging. Your systems, as much as you have been taking good care of it, are not running at their max efficiency anymore.
Now you have a choice to make. You can ignore this fact and let nature runs its course, or you can allow me to help you extend its ability to run as efficiently as it can for as long as it can with a good quality of life.
The Flu and Shingles vacs help your immune system to help fight these types of viruses. There will be medicines that I will prescribe that will help your body to heal faster. There will be times that your body will need assistance that will stop the development of other illnesses. He closed by recommending that I continue to follow my health regimen. His job is to let me know what he can recommend for me to do to keep the quality of my life with some assistance at times. He said, of course, it’s my choice which way I want to go.
It was very hard for me to accept this wise counsel, but he was right. I have chosen to follow the doctors’ recommendation. He said to get the Covid vaccine, and I did.
So you can see from this response that I continue to be very guarded on what advice I believe. We are fighting a losing battle as we age and this I cannot deny even though I continue to fight to stay healthy. So I decided that getting the Covid vaccine would give my body the help it needs in fighting this ongoing Covid battle.
We really love you guys. We would not forgive ourselves if we were ever responsible for passing the virus to you.
Front Royal, Virginia
Twenty Years Later
Knowing that the 20th anniversary of 9/11 was fast approaching, I knew I needed to address it. I struggle writing about 9/11 because in many ways it still brings on strong raw emotions and I want to do it justice. For my own history, it is the foremost event and has done more to change this nation during my lifetime than anything else.
While it is a unique event for me, it is not unique historically. I can make many comparisons to other events in our history – JFK’s assassination, Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the Maine, John Brown’s attack at Harper’s Ferry, the attack on Gen. Zachery Taylor at Brownsville, or the first shot fired at Lexington. Historically speaking, each of these events shook the people then as much as 9/11 has shaken me and has affected the population in different ways. As I consider the major life-changing events in our history, it is interesting that most led to war but yet not all united us the way 9/11 did.
We often think that in times of great crisis the nation comes together, yet history has shown in its biggest moments that that is not true. In 1775, colonial militias in Massachusetts gathered on Lexington green with the idea of stopping the British Army from marching to Concord and seize weapons stored there. Their bravery did not last long as the Redcoats pointed their muskets at the colonials and ordered them to abandon the green. Just as the colonists were about to leave a shot was fired from the woods that set off a chain reaction of the British soldiers firing on the militia and starting the American Revolution. We may think this rallied the colonists to the cause of liberty, but in fact only about a 1/3 of the colonists ever really supported the revolution. It would even take Congress another year to agree to issue the Declaration of Independence. What actually happened in many parts of the colonies was civil war between the loyalists and the patriots who used the war as justification to kill each other.
In 1846, President James K. Polk, wanting to pull the Mexicans into a fight, sent Gen. Zachery Taylor to Brownsville, Texas, knowing Mexico did not consider the region south of the Nueces River as part of Texas. Taylor got what he wanted, and the Mexican army attacked, giving him the evidence needed to ask Congress for a declaration of war. The Mexican-American War was probably the most controversial and divisive war before Vietnam, with many in the north believing the war was solely for the purpose of expanding slavery. Henry David Thoreau famously went to jail rather than pay taxes to a government engaged in what he considered an immoral war.
A few years later in 1859, radical abolitionist John Brown and several of his followers attacked the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry. His plan was to arm the slaves in the region and begin an all-out war for slaves’ emancipation. His plan completely failed yet his attempt closely resembles the 9/11 attack for the south. A religious radical wanted to start a campaign of violence against the south to hurt the south’s way of life. When Brown was hanged for his crimes, people in the north celebrated him as a martyr, further angering the south. How could the man who wanted to kill them be hailed as a hero? Obviously, the Civil War led to America’s greatest division.
In 1898, the USS Maine was attacked while docked in Havana. The American public had been supporting the independence movement of the Cubans against the Spanish and the sinking of the Maine was seen as an attack by Spain. The attack forced President McKinney to ask for a declaration of war. This has been a forgotten but significant war. It was the war that pushed America into an imperial power as it colonized many of the Spanish islands that it just liberated. Though most Americans supported some sort of retaliation for the Maine, the nation became completely divided over a war that gave America colonies.
Then came the 20th Century. Though Americans were not united over every conflict, especially Vietnam, they seemed to come together for the major events. The attack on Pearl Harbor united the nation possibly more than we had ever been before. It was not hard to see the threat from Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan and we needed to come together to defeat an evil threat. Then with the assassination of JFK, we all mourned together. Both Democrats and Republicans, whites and blacks, rich and poor, and north and south shed tears as they watched a young charismatic family man get struck down. Some good came from this. As a nation we came together and passed Kennedy’s bill that became the 1963 Civil Rights Bill. I personally am not sure it would have passed without JFK’s death. We were divided on civil rights, but his death brought us together.
Finally, there was 9/11. As with Pearl Harbor and JFK’s assassination, Americans mourned together as a nation. There will be a lot of discussion on the events of 9/11, as there should be, but what I remember just as much and want to focus on was 9/12. We live in a nation where today some claim the American Flag represents hatred. One leader has claimed she fears people who fly the flag. Yet I still remember twenty years ago when everyone from every walk of life and background flew that flag with pride. There was hardly a home or car without a flag of some sort. At sporting events across the nation, whether it was President Bush throwing out the first pitch at a Yankees game, Mark Messier wearing the FDNY helmet on the ice, or NFL players running out of the tunnel with flags waving, no matter the sport, the crowds chanted “USA-USA-USA.” In 2001, the Women’s National Soccer team represented America at every game the rest of that year, draping themselves with American flags, where now the majority of the team takes a knee when the flag is waved.
9/11 was a tragic day, but it also brought out the best in America. We were as unified as we have ever been as a nation. Personally, I think only Pearl Harbor looms as greater. I still mourn those who died on that day, especially heroes who rushed into the towers, but I also mourn 9/12 just as much. I blame radical Islamists for the death of Americans, but I blame us and our elected leaders for the death of the America that was also born the day after. May we never forget 9/11 and may we ever strive to return to 9/12.
Dr. James Finck is a Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. To receive daily historical posts, follow Historically Speaking at Historicallyspeaking.blog or on Facebook.
Hometown Faces: So many good memories
As one who grew up in Front Royal, both John and Suzanne’s interviews brought back so many good memories to this old guy who’s turning 70 next month.
I see that you shot the videos at the home of Prudie Matthews – another good friend from FR days.
John was a great friend of my father, Paul Hockman. He was so right when he talked about how the Town Council and how the Mayor and Council worked so hard for Front Royal. My Dad served for many years on the Council and as Vice-Mayor, and on so many other boards there. Before he passed away, he told me one of the proudest things he ever lived to see was the building of the new school east of town off Rt. 55. He had pushed for the town to purchase that property twenty years before because he knew the property would be needed one day and the price would only go up.
As a child, I remember asking my Dad why he seemed to miss so many dinners at home because he was always at some meeting. He said that he had come to Front Royal with very little and had become successful because the town had been good to him and our family. He said he owed it back to the people of the town to make things always better. He instilled the idea of giving back to me, which I followed serving non-profits and other organizations during my life.
I loved Suzanne’s recollections of Main Street. I have known Suzanne all my life and was a good friend of her late husband, who died much too young. I grew up on Main Street when our family business was there and then moved to Royal Avenue. I spent Saturdays at the Park Theater and often ate at the old Duck Inn. I worked a summer and many college vacations at Joe Silek’s Warren Quality Shop.
Forgive me for rambling, but I remember selling an old gentleman a pair of pajamas there and after the customer left, Mr. Silek asked if I knew I had just sold the p.j.’s to a celebrity. I thought he was crazy, but the customer was Cliff Arquette, the actor who played Charlie Weaver on TV. I really didn’t believe Mr. Silek until Arquette died years later, and they published photos of him without his make-up. Mr. Silek was a wonderful boss and I still use his son as my attorney in FR.
I am surprised that The Examiner has never done a story on the Arquette family in Warren County. His son, also an actor on “The Walton’s”, and his grandchildren, Patricia, Rosanne, etc. all lived at Skymont Camp on Rt. 340. Check out the photo of them at The Melting Pot.
Keep up the good work. I read the Examiner every day. I appreciate your publishing the news releases I send. I am now working part-time only at the state agency. Retired from full-time in February but was asked to stay on for a while. I guess I am a workaholic, as I also just took on a consulting job with TV station here.
Thanks for letting me ramble on. Best Always to you, Roger, and your staff.
The Election of 1856 Redo
Instead of writing an entire new article, I want to recycle one I wrote back in January of 2019 but make some minor changes. Back then I was writing about the upcoming election and comparing it to the 1856 election. With the major crisis we are seeing right now, you can decide if my earlier post was prophetic.
The 1850s were a decade in turmoil, much like our own. Though slavery had been a major social issue for some time, the Federal government avoided the subject with compromise efforts and even a gag rule on the subject only recently repealed. 1854, saw the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the earlier compromise of 1820 that had successfully kept the peace by predetermining whether new states would be free or slave states. With the passage of Kansas-Nebraska, these two new territories could go either way based on the popular vote. With the decision in the hands of the people, thousands flocked to the new territory of Kansas to guarantee it went in their favor. The outcome of this contest is known as Bleeding Kansas. Both pro-slavery elements and anti-slavery elements formed state governments and began violent confrontations over the direction of the state.
As for the politics of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, it was the Democratic President, Franklin Pierce, who signed it into law. Southern Democrats praised the northern president for his decision, who felt abolitionists were tearing apart the nation and tended to side with the south on questions of slavery. However, the northern Democrats saw it differently, especially as northern Democrats took a hit in the 1854 midterm elections and northern voters showed their disappointment in Pierce by electing other parties.
Over the next two years leading up to the 1856 election, the national situation did not improve for Pierce. While part of his party continued to praise him, mostly in the south, other sections were losing faith in his abilities. When it came time for the election, northern Democrats decided they could no longer support Pierce with his connection to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Democratic Party realized the subject was still too toxic and, in order to win a general election, felt they needed to distance themselves from the event and the man. Instead, they went with the completely non-controversial candidate James Buchanan. Fortunately, for Buchanan, he had been Ambassador to England during the controversy and so had absolutely no connection to it. Unfortunately, in their effort to find a candidate with no bad press, the Democrats found a man who many historians consider our worst president ever.
On paper, Buchannan had all the qualifications. He had served as both congressional representative and senator as well as ambassador and, most importantly, as Secretary of State. However, few have left the office with a worse reputation. Part of the blame for his failure was the political environment. With the nation divided as it was, there was little he could do to please the majority of the population, something we know a bit about from recent years. However, part of the blame is his. For instance, he only appointed southern Democrats to his cabinet and excluded all the northerners who were seen as loyal to his democratic rival Stephen Douglas. It is difficult to compromise with the nation when it is impossible to compromise within one’s own party (President Biden is also learning this). Instead of trying to compromise with the difficult issues of his day, especially slavery, Buchanan simply blamed the abolitionists for all the nation’s problems and refused to accept any fault of his own, such as pushing the Supreme Court to rule against Dred Scott, thus creating the situation where slavery could spread across the nation.
If we are at a point in history where we are so divided as a nation that our only comparison is the Civil War, then what scares me is seeing similarities of political events that played out before the conflict happening today. If Mr. Trump runs in 2020 (at the time I was not convinced he would), we might be heading for another 1856, that in an effort to replace a very controversial president the Republicans (or in this case the Democrats) might go with another Buchanan. Someone extremely safe, someone that would put everyone at ease, but someone without the ability to lead. Buchanan sat and watched the events unfold that led to the Civil War, offering no leadership or doing anything to stop it.
Now as I am writing this in 2021 there is some good news. If my 2019 article was correct and Trump is Pierce and Biden is Buchanan, then our next president is Lincoln. We can only hope for our sake that this time history does repeat itself.
Dr. James Finck is a Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. To receive daily historical posts, follow Historically Speaking at Historicallyspeaking.blog or on Facebook.
An unlikely friendship points a way for us all
In the midst of such a polarizing time in our nation, I keep coming back to the most unlikely of friendships: that of Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. Polar opposites of the political spectrum, they were each known for their razor-sharp wit, powerful prose, and an unshakable certainty in their own rightness. Their families vacationed together, celebrated one another’s triumphs, and mourned one another’s losses. They even spent many holidays together.
When asked about their friendship, they each admitted that part of it was their mutual appreciation of a good sparring partner, a worthy opponent with whom to debate ideas. But it was based on other things as well. Things such as shared interests, common personal (if not public) values, and a respect for the law.
In an era where the political spectrum is clouded by the smoke of cannon fodder inflicted from each side, we would do well to remember the peculiar bond between these two jurists. Scalia put it this way: “I attack ideas, I don’t attack people – and some very good people have some very bad ideas.”
Hate is the greatest corrupting, destructive influence known to mankind. And at one time or another, all of us are guilty of harboring it. Hate prompted Cain to kill Abel. Hate causes one person to enslave another. If mankind has original sin, it’s hate. It reaches its zenith when we find ourselves incapable of separating the inherent worth of an individual from our perception of the foolishness of their beliefs or behaviors. Further, hating the person provides a convenient excuse to avoid the marketplace of ideas altogether, dismissing ideas based on who holds them rather than debate them on their own merits.
Among their contemporaries, there are no two greater political figures than Ginsburg and Scalia. In some ways, they are practical ‘patron saints’ of their respective ideological camps.
So, to the left, I say, ‘While fighting for your perception of justice and equality, carrying the banner of the Notorious RBG, do not forget that your ideological enemies revere a man who she thought the world of. They, like their beloved Scalia, may have bad ideas worthy of your hatred. But the people themselves are the intellectual offspring of your patron saint’s best friend.’
And to the right, I say, ‘As you fight for your perception of individual liberty and the rule of law, boldly citing the endlessly quotable Saint Antonin’s witticisms, do not lose sight of the fact that it’s his best friend’s acolytes standing in opposition to you. Hate their ideas if you must. But never the holders of those ideas.’
Hate ideas. Not people.
Dr. Matthew B. Pandel
(Dr. Matthew B. Pandel is a behavioral psychologist, theologian, and educator. He resides in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with his wife of 17 years, Carolyn.)
Support of masks and vaccines
I support the governor’s directive for schools to require masks while indoors for both students and staff as well as wearing masks in any indoor spaces as we experience another surge in local Covid cases. I applaud the school board’s decision to move the mitigation plan to phase 2 to begin the school year.
As a recently retired School Nurse and Lead Nurse for our schools, I can assure you that our nurses, administrators, and staff worked extremely hard last year to provide a safe environment in which children can learn. We spent many evenings and weekends doing contact tracing of any known positive cases and their contacts. Those hours will increase as more cases arise.
We taught proper infection control measures. We beefed up teachers’ confidence in basic first aid and supported their assessment skills with routine student symptoms in order to keep the clinic as clean as possible for the safety of students with chronic conditions.
We educated and reminded all staff and children of proper mask-wearing, showing that the way air and germs get into our lungs is through both our nose and mouth as they are connected in the back of our throat.
I spent every week since Covid closed our schools in March 2020 on Zoom calls with the VDOE’s School Health Services Specialist and the VDH’s School Health Nurse Consultant. During the spring, the calls became less frequent as we were seeing the light at the end of this ordeal. Zoom conferences with the Virginia AAP that included experts in all specialties of children’s care who said it would be a very rare case of a child with any physical condition in which wearing a mask would be detrimental to their health.
I want you to understand that we were well-informed and not making this up as we went along.
There is a vocal minority that has said they do not believe in the disease, do not believe they can be asymptomatic spreaders of the disease and do not believe they will get sick and/or die.
In the meantime, there are many in our community who have listened to the science and done everything we’ve been asked to do to keep our families AND our community safe, even those who refuse to keep US safe.
Sadly, some local businesses no longer require masks in the midst of this surge, so I will protect my unvaccinated daughter by once again staying home. She is excited to be going to public school for the first time this year. We will be watching to see if the vocal group sways the School Board’s well-thought-out mitigation plan, negating all efforts to stop this pandemic in our area. We will immediately pull her out of school if their agenda dictates decisions affecting our community’s children.
Front Royal/Warren County could have been well beyond this now if all had pulled together for the good of our community.