FROM THE EDITOR: Now, more than ever, we should focus on rights

(BRANDON HANSEN/Managing Editor)

During this pandemic, it feels like I have had to wade through an Olympic swimming pool of rumors, conspiracy theories and partisan bickering.

But for the most part, it is really heartening to see many people just trying to help their fellow human and do the right thing. From the school district employees delivering meals to kids, our delivery workers and mail carriers making sure goods are still shipped, first responders still putting themselves in harms way and our medical workers forming our line of defense against this virus. Make no mistake, this is a war-like situation.

But still we need to stay vigilant as Americans when it comes to our rights.

When 9/11 hit and emotions were running high, there was a feeling of nationalism that was nearly unbeatable. People stopped being themselves for a while and just wanted to be Americans. The government, however, took that time to pass legislation to curtail the privacy of Americans and its effects are still being felt today. Anyone who piped up in opposition was quickly squelched and called un-American.

That can’t happen this time around.

Now, I am a big supporter of social distancing. I trust our medical community in believing that without these measures, this virus could have potentially killed millions of Americans. We are making a huge sacrifice but doing so saves lives.

The unfounded conspiracy theories and people who like to post Facebook memes with no actual sources drive me up a wall with how they only serve to muddy the waters and spread misinformation that doesn’t help the community.

However, I want to separate this from the people who genuinely want to know what the heck is happening to our rights. This pandemic has taken away our right to assemble, shuttered businesses, prevented religous gatherings. People’s ability to move around has been stunted as well. Most of it has been voluntary, and enforcement of this shutdown hasn’t been something we have seen. People are doing their part against the virus.

But one question that haunts me was during a press conference with Washington Governor Jay Inslee where a reporter asked about the next pandemic after COVID-19. Will the government be able to do the same things it did now? These are questions we need to answer once this is said and done.

Unlike the majority of our Facebook readers who seem to compare Inslee to a tyrant hellbent on ruling the kingdom like Game of Thrones, Inslee is making moves that many Republican governors are making out of concern for public safety.

The thing with government is, however, we shouldn’t be concerned of the politician who makes these moves during times of national emergency but the ones who come after who see how easy it was to employ a shutdown of the economy and everyday life.

Now we’re getting into tinfoil hat territory but regardless of your political leanings, right or left, you should be vigilant in how your rights are respected by the government. Remember, no big act has been passed by Congress giving governors this power; this was done by them because of a public safety crisis.
We need to continue to ask questions, and don’t tell people to shut up if they want to know why the government is doing one thing or the other. If they’re making a move, they better explain themselves and explain it well.

Some questions I have are: What are the benchmarks for opening things back up? What does victory over this virus look like, because that has never been explained? What are your future plans for businesses if we have another pandemic? What are people supposed to do about the lost wages, late bills and growing debt? Why cancel fishing and hunting when people might need the food? Why aren’t we bringing our legislators back into session so they can work with the governor during this time?

I will say, this pandemic is a very serious thing and we should respect our medical experts. That being said, I think we should always be vigilant because governments tend to add new rules in times of crisis and seemingly never retract them. This is not conspiracy theory stuff but rather our duty as Americans to be worried about the rights we are guaranteed. Our government should have to answer to us even during times of emergency.