Norma Schatz April 2020 Letter

To Plymouth Harbor Democrats…and others who care:                                  April, 2020
        Hate in the time of COVID-19.  Xenophobia didn't start when candidate Trump descended  the golden escalator to rant against a Mexican invasion.  Xenophobia, racism and exclusion have long been a part of American history; Irish, Italians, Jews, Hispanics, Asians, Moslems, Blacks, Native Americans have all known it. But hate crimes have become more prevalent and white supremacists bolder in the past three years. Now, with the coronavirus affecting our lives in so many ways, fear and hate have infected the susceptible.  “Asian Americans report over 650 racist acts over last week. (NBC News 3/26/20)
       An Op-Ed in USA Today 3/20/20  by Andrew Yang, formerly a Presidential contender and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League sounds an alarm. Some excerpts -

       “As the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic threatens to tax our public health systems, takes a toll on the economy  and upends nearly every aspect of our lives, there’s a serious risk that the compounding public anxiety around the virus could lead to the spread of another serious contagion: the scapegoating and blaming of Asian, Jewish and other minorities for this public health crisis.                                                                                       
        “In fact, the blame game already has started: We’ve seen politicians seeking to politicize the virus — decrying it as the “Wuhan virus”  for example, or suggesting that foreigners solely are responsible for spreading it; we’ve seen Asian Americans and Jewish Americans and other minority communities blamed for the pandemic; we’ve seen some pundits pointing the finger at prominent Jews as if the virus was the product of some conspiracy; and we’ve seen internet chatter from white supremacists suggesting the disease is spreading in America thanks to an influx of foreigners...While, fortunately, none of this has yet to enter the mainstream in a significant way, there’s now a serious risk that this kind of hateful rhetoric  and outright scapegoating of minorities  will take on a life of its own. We know from history that at times of real crisis in society, the voices of reason and logic can be drowned out by those who wish to spread hatred or sow discord…                              ”There have been posts on notoriously extremist-friendly platforms like Telegram, 4-Chan and Gab  linking the coronavirus to racist and antisemitic slurs and memes. Users across these channels regularly share racist messages or caricatures of Chinese people, mocking their eating habits, accents and hygiene. Posters on Telegram and 4chan appear to be cheering on the virus, hoping it will spread to predominately non-white countries.  It has also started to enter the mainstream, as political leaders and those in positions of influence have picked up on these themes. Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who has been tied to extremist groups lamented that no major media outlet has asked about ‘George Soros’s involvement in this FLU  panic. He is SOMEWHERE involved in this.’ ”  …     “While our top scientists, medical professionals, first responders and policymakers continue to develop and implement plans and rules to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, let’s do our part as a people and as a country to prevent hate and bigotry from becoming a side effect of the virus.”                              
        The Florida legislature adjourned in mid-March. No action on renewable energy or Death With Dignity bills and no action on banning assault weapons or any of the many gun safety bills.   Has anyone else received these unsolicited emails: “Carry a Gun Now. You Too Can Get Certified Online…” ?    Gun shops have been declared “essential” along with markets and pharmacies.  Gun sales are surging.    Who’s afraid of the NRA?                           Gov. DeSantis is still impeding implementation of Amendment 4  (approved in 2018, allowing ex-felons to vote) with an appeal to the U.S. District Court.  The Governor’s phone number is 850/488-7146.
         April 22 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  Youth activists are organizing 3 days of action and awareness of climate change and the need to come together to protect people and the planet.  You can back them with your calls and emails to city, state and federal government representatives.
         Relying on Republicans?  The EPA issued a sweeping suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws, telling companies they would not need to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak. (The Hill 3/26/20). Days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all restaurants to shift to take-out or delivery service, the state ordered all of its restaurant inspectors to stop routine examinations at thousands of Florida eateries. (Tampa Bay Times 3/27/20).                                                                                                                                 
         Secure your ability to vote by mail in the August local and November national elections - even if you decide you may not want to use it. Call 941/861-8618 and ask for a VBM ballot good through 2022 election.   
Norma Schatz  [email protected]

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