Bill and Barbara Larsen: Founding fathers locked down in sickness |

Bill and Barbara Larsen: Founding fathers locked down in sickness

In Ken Paige’s Other Voices column on Feb. 12 (“Why I’m Filled with Hope”), he evoked the wisdom of the founding fathers and God in his plea for unity. In light of the utter disregard he has exhibited for the health of our community, his words sound self-serving and disingenuous.

Throughout the pandemic he has contemptuously flouted the state and county ordinance by staying open, suing Nevada City, and allowing both servers and customers to remain unmasked while continuing to serve customers in violation of the ordinance.

And now he wants to make nice and bring the community together? Well, sorry about that, Ken, but as any 8-year-old Catholic kid knows, you have to confess before receiving absolution and penance (i.e., atonement) must be expressed before rejoining the congregation. Even though the facts will never be known, your restaurant was a source of contamination in our downtown area as you chose to maximize personal profit. Sounds like Ken bows to Caesar rather than Jesus Christ.

Ken went all out in cherry picking quotes from the founding fathers, but he’s dead wrong if he thinks he knows what they would do in a pandemic.

So let’s look at how George Washington and other founders responded to the smallpox epidemic of 1775-77. Infection rates around Boston were skyrocketing, which presented a grave threat to the Continental Army. Gen. Washington quarantined all soldiers showing symptoms to a hospital in Cambridge, and ordered all infected Boston civilians to the township of Brookline. He also prevented anyone from Boston from entering the military zone.

Washington’s orders imposed many restrictions on personal “rights.“ For instance, on July 4, 1775, he ordered: ”No person be allowed to fresh water ponds or any other occasions as there may be danger of introducing smallpox into this army.“

Clearly, the founding fathers were in agreement that civil restrictions needed to be mandated for the common good.

Later, in 1776, Washington ordered his soldiers to undergo variolation , a precursor to modern-day vaccination. This process lasted months, and no one was allowed to leave or enter the area once it began. And then, in 1777-78, this inoculation process was repeated.

To read about this, google “Rep. Jim Jordan Schooled by Historians for Suggesting Founding Fathers Would Oppose Covid Measures.” Clearly, the founding fathers would have been proud of measures (like those enacted in Nevada City) to protect their citizens against disease.

Ken’s essay sounds like he now wants unity, but isn’t willing to face the consequences of his behavior. The fact is, in his blatant disregard for the health of his neighbors, Ken endangered the community by keeping his eating establishment open in defiance of the state and local mandates.

This looks like Ken is still bowing to Caesar in saying whatever he can to appease the ill will he created and lure people back to his restaurant. Well, this won’t work for us, and it won’t work for many of the people we’ve known in our 45 years of living here.

We suggest that true reconciliation requires humility and deep soul searching before true unity is possible. To date, Ken Paige has expressed neither.

Bill and Barbara Larsen live in Nevada City.

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