Patrick Henry’s famous 1775 speech served as a clear call to arms for those delegates to the Virginia Convention who favored a clean break from England. 

To be sure, there were those in the room who favored a negotiated settlement with King George but in Henry’s eyes any deviation from true independence was just another form of servitude. His words, along with those of our other founding fathers, inspired the birth of a country called America. 

In this wonderful new country the rights of the citizens were not “granted” by the government but recognized as personal and inalienable. The idea being that as a collective the people would use those rights responsibly for the greater good of society.

But today it would seem that we live in a different country — I’ll call it “’Murica” — where we seem to take an entirely different view of the relationship between the individual, his rights and society. In ‘Murica the rights of the individual come first and at the expense of those around him. All it takes is a good shock to the system — like a disease pandemic, for example — to see the difference between America and ‘Murica.

In our present situation we are facing a very serious threat to our society. Comparisons to the Spanish Flu are useful but you have to realize that rapid global travel (or even interstate travel) wasn’t as common a century ago. But, like the Spanish Flu, you could be carrying coronavirus and not even know it. Hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola kill the host organism so quickly that the outbreak contains itself. Respiratory viruses take a week or so to make their symptoms manifest. An infected person can move around freely during this period and pass the bug on to everyone he meets without knowing it.

The logical thing to do is to limit those person-to-person interactions as much as possible but neither the federal government or the state of Texas have given us directives to that effect. Now when I say “directives” I am referring to “temporary laws.” We have received “guidelines” which I would equate to “suggestions.” Donald Trump faced a leadership challenge to issue a more forceful mandate on this and he passed the buck to the state governors.

At the present time, 42 of the 50 states have issued stay-at-home orders. Those other eight states, as you may have guessed, form the bedrock of ‘Murica. These are the states where access to healthcare and a decent public education fall near the bottom of the pack and where, as you may also have guessed, there is rabid opposition to anything resembling a government directive — even directives which haven’t been issued.

You see, ‘Murica is a country based on principles — even principles which fly in the face of common sense, conventional science or concern for the well-being of your fellow man. I can think of no better way to sum this sentiment than to quote that great founding father of ‘Murica, Ammon Bundy, who recently stated, “I actually want the virus. I’m healthy. My family is healthy. I’d rather have it now so my body is immune to it.” Good luck and Godspeed, Mr. Bundy.

I’m not going to tout myself as an expert on virology but I like to think I made it a little higher on the educational ladder than Ammon Bundy with his attempts to equate a potentially fatal malady with a childhood case of the measles.  But what really concerns me is Bundy’s complete disregard for the idea that he could be responsible for the illness or even the deaths of others by encouraging this reckless behavior. I’m not a legal expert either so I would defer to one of you readers to tell us what the basis for a negligent homicide charge is.

Idaho issued a statewide stay-home order shortly after Ammon Bundy made these remarks.  In Utah however, where no statewide order has been issued, protesters staged a rally last week. Many of those interviewed saw Bundy and his ilk as inspirational leaders. Words mean things, as Rush Limbaugh used to say, and the speakers of those words have to bear some responsibility for those who would listen to them.

The citizens of ‘Murica have confused what the virus is doing to them with what government is trying to do to help them. The steps being taken to reduce the risk of infection have and will continue to cause economic hardship for a lot of us. In America we supplement those steps with economic programs that are designed to ease this burden. In ‘Murica the people rail against government while expecting instant gratification from it. Hence ‘Murica’s official motto: “Why choose between liberty and death when you can have both?”

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(3) comments

Pam SAMS

We completely agree with you Mr. McKinney. Thank you for writing and thank you to the HZ for publishing. Please continue - you are supported and appreciated.

Jan Martin

I agree. I for one wish to wait a little while longer before risking getting this still largely unknown virus until there are more effective treatment options. If we had overwhelmed the hospitals in the beginning (which could have easily happened in many places) more people than those with the virus would have been impacted. Call it what you want, the slowdown worked AND was a great wake up call to America. Now pray for effective treatments and vaccines as we gradually loosen up.

Myra Lovelace

It’s a world gone mad here in the U.S. I agree with you.

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