Does requiring masks and distancing impair our freedom [“For cops, enforcing masks is a big ask,” News, July 20]? Sure. So do highway speed limits and stop lights. So do requirements that football, lacrosse and hockey players wear helmets. So do regulations against sales of contaminated food. So do laws against robbery, rape and homicide. No sane person would campaign against such life-saving restrictions. Yet, we hear otherwise reasonable citizens complain that mask and distancing requirements must be resisted in the name of “freedom.” To me, that’s dangerous nonsense. An adage applies: “Your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins,” except here the fist is a seemingly harmless but potentially virus-contaminated breath.
Our treasured unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” do not imply a right to needlessly endanger our neighbors. Let us not dishonor the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice to preserve our freedom by exhibiting selfish behavior aiding an enemy that, in five months, has taken more American lives than were lost in any conflict except the Civil War and World War II.
Cold Spring Harbor
On July 13, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo released the guidelines for the reopening of public schools in September [“State issues rules for schools,” News, July 14]. I was disappointed to learn that students will not be required to wear masks in classrooms during instruction, which is almost the entire school day. As a public school teacher, I find this incredibly disturbing. The guidelines make it clear that students will be required to wear masks entering and exiting a building and moving about in hallways.
However, when a student is seated during instruction, teachers can strongly recommend the wearing of masks but cannot require students to do so. With no vaccine or reliable therapeutic treatment for COVID-19 and the absence of adequate air conditioning units and/or ventilation in classrooms, mask wearing is essential. Most people don’t enjoy wearing a mask in public, but we do it to help control the virus’ spread. Is it asking too much for students, excluding those with medical conditions and certain special education students, to be required to wear masks to help curb the spread of the virus and protect the vulnerable among us?
If mask wearing saves even one life, it’s worth it.
Here’s why I fear New York will eventually find itself in trouble again with the coronavirus [“For cops, enforcing masks is a big ask,” News, July 20]. Recently standing on line to enter a grocery store, two young women were in front of me, maskless and talking a mile a minute.
Every time I moved forward into their previous spot, even though I had a mask on, I was possibly inhaling their droplets, which is how one gets the virus — because they couldn’t be bothered to wear masks. Selfishness and lack of consideration for others keep this virus going. Wear a mask! Not just for you, but especially for those around you.
A tutorial on 'white privilege'
Joe Ruszczyk asked for the definition of “white privilege” [“Explain what ‘white privilege’ means,” Letters, July 21].
Here it is. White privilege means that one’s first impression of you and behavior toward you, if you’re white, is not based on your skin color.
The writer said his family struggled during their transition to this country but was ultimately accepted as Americans. At no point were they ever restricted by law from voting, swimming in public pools, sitting where they wanted on public transportation, or eating and living where they wanted. Hard-fought legislation was not required for you to have what should be basic rights for all Americans. If any member of your family served in World War II, that person benefited from the GI Bill, entered middle class and established the foundation of wealth building. Black GIs were excluded.
Most immigrants had major struggles for assimilation and acceptance but only people of color have the added and permanent burden of meeting the criteria of the color prism.
So now “progressive” is a derogatory term? The letter writer asks, “What have the progressives done to support those attributes?”
Attributes you list are family values, education and ambition. I ask, who are the progressives the writer so negatively labels? People whose father left Poland with his parents and siblings in 1923 to escape pogroms? People whose father had to drop out of high school to help support his family during World War II? People who believe everyone is to be treated with the respect and dignity we’d want our parents, siblings, children and ourselves to be treated? People who have empathy, open hearts and open minds when it comes to those who do not look like, sound like or live like they do?
Sounds like me.
A reader asks, “What is meant by white privilege?” Then he states that ethnicity and race have nothing to do with quality of life.
I’m a Caucasian woman, and I couldn’t disagree more. Our entire society is a hierarchy that clearly has us white folk in control. The blatant discrimination in every facet of life against all people of color, with special emphasis on those who are African American, is what keeps us at the top of the heap ... and I see it as disgraceful.
I’m thrilled I’ve lived long enough to witness the willingness of so many Americans to recognize this and to do something about it. If the reader who posed the question about white privilege really wants an answer, many good books give details and facts.
First it’s fascism, then authoritarianism
Numerous things in Cathy Young’s column “In Portland, lawlessness aplenty” trouble me [Opinion, July 21]. Especially her statement that a 90-minute detention of an individual by unidentified and unidentifiable members of a government-sanctioned paramilitary unit without cause “doesn’t sound very fascist.”
How fascist does something have to be before we should be concerned? President Donald Trump and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf’s dispatching an armed militia to Portland, Oregon, on the pretext of protecting federal property, and their threat to use this same tactic in Chicago, Kansas City, New York and other cities governed by elected Democratic “liberals,” are nothing less than efforts to intimidate, punish their political opposition and squelch dissent. That all seems fascist to me.
If and when we are willing to police our streets by accepting the use of forces unaccountable to anyone but their commanders, then we shall have irretrievably crossed the line toward authoritarianism.
Jack K. Feirman,