A pandemic brings out the best in most people and the worst in some.
In 1918, during the Spanish flu pandemic, Oklahoma City public health Commissioner John Duke was determined to save as many people as possible from the flu virus ravaging the city. He allowed health officials to enforce quarantines through martial law, limit public gatherings, and close schools. The virus was hitting the city’s schools, which had roughly 14,000 students, particularly hard. The school board entered the “save lives” effort by guaranteeing teachers their pay for a month—no easy feat in that time of World War I.
Teachers started volunteering to help others, high school students manned switchboards and did other things to help the sick, high school “shop classes” constructed hospital beds, economic classes made gowns and surgical masks for doctors and nurses. Young children even pitched in to conduct “oral history” interviews with the sick that could be used in future generations.
Heroes of Past Instructive in Present
History records John Duke, public school teachers, and all Oklahoma City students as “heroes” during the Spanish flu pandemic.
More than one hundred years later the U.S. is facing another pandemic crisis.
Heroes are also rising to the occasion in the COVID 19 pandemic.
Health care providers, EMS responders, law enforcement agencies, and public officials across the nation have put their own lives and health at risk to save others.
Large cities across the country are struggling to combat the highly contagious virus. One of Houston’s first public official heroes is Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
In late March, she issued a mandatory county-wide “stay at home, work safe” order to halt the spread of the deadly virus and protect the general community.
Part of Judge Hidalgo’s order specifically focused on restaurants, limiting them to take out and delivery orders only. The order also mandated a six-foot separation between people working, entering, and exiting any restaurants in the city.
The Hidalgo order drew immediate criticism from some restaurant owners and restaurant-goers, both of whom believe the rule infringes on their civil liberties—the notion held by many civil libertarians that the interests of the individual takes precedence over the interests of the community.
Restaurateur Put Patrons, Community at Risk
One of those restaurant owners is Matt Brice—the owner of the Federal American Grill located in Hedwig Village. Brice has elected to reopen his restaurant and defy Judge Hidalgo’s order and the subsequent more loosely drawn stay at home order issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Brice’s civil disobedience is based purely on self-interest.
“We’re trying to help open the economy, trying to get people back to work in the safest manner possible,” Brice told a local television station. “In my mind, there’s no reason for us to be closed when other operations are open.”
That’s the real issue here: profit before people—the economy is more important than public safety.
“You know it’s just sad,” Judge Hidalgo said, responding to the Brice-like motives. “It is so sad because this is about safety. And it is also dangerous; in that sense.”
And as we said earlier: pandemics bring out the lunatics.
City Council Member Stoops to Cite Rosa Parks
Local social “fighter,” as he likes to refer to himself, Michael Kubosh joined the public debate with his own warped assessment of the issue.
“Sometimes, civil disobedience is required to move things forward,” the Houston At-Large Council Member told the television station. “That’s why we remember Rosa Parks.”
Comparing the profit before people motive of a local feeding den opening in the middle of a pandemic that has already killed nearly 60,000 Americans to the social and historical courage of Rosa Parks is undeniably ignorant. Kubosh’s comparison exceeds Sen. Mitch McConnell’s staggering idiotic idea that states should declare “bankruptcy” in response to the economic disaster of the COVID pandemic. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called McConnell’s bankruptcy idea “one of the dumbest ideas of all time.”
We agree with Gov. Cuomo’s assessment but only to a degree.
Kubosh’s Rosa Parks comparison joins the ranks of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s recent lunatic social ramblings that older people should be willing to die to save the economy for younger folks.
The stupidity of these political heroes of the right-wing leaves them in contention for the dumbest political statements of the pandemic. Undoubtedly, however, this illustrious position will be held by the President himself.
Kubosh’s Rosa Parks comparison actually eases up to the social irresponsibility recently exhibited by President Donald Trump when he suggested that injecting bleach, drinking disinfectant, and slamming the body with ultraviolet light could work as a possible cure for the COVID virus.
Only an individual who lacks any moral compass and intellectual honesty could compare the social lawlessness of Matt Brice to the social courage of Rosa Parks. It is disgusting.
Texas history will not be kind to people like Dan Patrick and Michael Kubosh.
NAACP Condemns Kubosh’s Inflammatory Remarks
We close with the April 26 statement issued by the Houston NAACP condemning the inflammatory remarks of Kubosh, comparing Matt Brice’s social lawlessness to the civil rights struggle of Rosa Parks:
“Recent statements by Houston City Councilmember Michael Kubosh have deeply grieved the hearts and offended many African Americans. Others who are sensitive to the history of African Americans in this country are also disturbed.”
Contrasting the stay at home orders, put in place to slow the spread of a deadly pandemic that is disproportionately killing people of color, to the struggle for freedom and equality that has lasted nearly 400 years seems unnecessary, but, “the statement by Councilmember Kubosh is just another example of white America’s misunderstanding of its own racist policies and how these policies have had a negative affect on a large segment of American society.”
Council Member Kubosh has placed himself on the list of those who have contributed to the misunderstanding of history and the racist policies that still simmer just under the surface.