The Best and Worst of America

Nobody likes the restrictions and inconveniences that have come about as the result of the coronavirus, but most Americans consider them necessary to save lives and are willing to go along for as long as needed. Some Americans are flouting the rules, however, and it’s getting increasingly ugly.
Every day seems to bring another story about people resisting any restrictions with violence. They range from the park ranger in Austin, Texas, who was shoved into a pond while asking park-goers to stay six feet from another to the security guard at a Family Dollar store in Flint, Michigan who was shot and killed after refusing entry to a customer who refused to wear a face mask. The mayor of the fine city of Stillwater, Oklahoma, felt compelled rescind an order requiring face masks before entering stores and restaurants and some other businesses because owners have been threatened with violence if they enforce the policy.
In some cases, the violence has been committed by overzealous police officers. There are also concerns that police too often have a different standard for black and white violators of the social distancing rules, which will inevitably lead to further violence.
For the most part the coronavirus has brought out the best of the American people. Most citizens are willingly complying with public health orders, helping out their family and friends, contributing generously to charities that help the newly unemployed, and treating the grocery store clerks with politeness and a newfound respect. The worst of America has also been on displaying, with hoarders and price gougers and protestors bringing semiautomatic rifles and their implied threat of violence to rallies, but for now that’s a distinct minority. A certain selfishness and a penchant for violence are also an unfortunate part of the American culture, and here’s hoping we can keep it in check as the frustrations continue to mount.

— Bud Norman

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