Letter to the Editor

Roger Wall, May 20

By this letter I am responding to Mr. Bob Urban’s invitation to respond to his well-written  “Letter to the Editor” (April 21). 

Mr Urban evidently is a follower of Dr. Ron Paul. The quote that Mr. Urban refers to has often been given for reasons that the eccentric Paul originally supported pro-choice and the legalization of pot. 

Here is my attempt to make a polite response to Mr. Urban’s complaint that the American public are a bunch of sheep who blindly follow their leaders while their constitutional rights are trampled on.    

In times of crisis, strong leaders take strong measures. Abraham Lincoln, often cited as the second most significant US President other than Washington, suspended all writs of habeas corpus, declared martial law in the State  of Missouri, and threatened to hold the southern leaning Chief Justice of the Supreme Court under house arrest for the duration of the Civil War. All of these stern measures were done in order to save the Union, a proposition never opined by the Founding Fathers anywhere in the Constitution.         

Franklin Roosevelt, in attempting to stem the ugliness of the Great Depression, rallied the citizenry to support his visions of free or low-cost rural electricity, construction of two giant hydro dams in the west, the creation of a safety net social security system for the elderly, etc. etc.    

And during WW II, he got around the isolationist. US Neutrality Acts by invoking the Lend-Lease “war machine” for the benefit of our European Allies, including Russia.   

What did these 3 great Presidents (Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt) have in common? They were bold enough in times of a crisis, to ask the America public to follow them for the good of the many and not to the benefit of the individual. They were brave enough to ask Americans to make sacrifices. And sacrifice they did. During WWII they made do without red meat, very little sugar, no new rubber tires, and severe gasoline rationing to benefit our Armed Forces. And on weekends, they held pie suppers and ran lotteries to aid the War Bond efforts.        

In my opinion, since the early 60s, no President has had the courage to ask the American public to make sacrifices for the good of the country.       

Having been a member of the Missouri Bar for  47 years certainly does not make me a Constitutional expert. But from experience, I can tell you that the Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights, are often misquoted and misunderstood. There is a small amount of black and white, and a great deal of gray matter in between!    

For example, look at the First Amendment, probably our most important Amendment, along with the 4th Amendment, involving search and seizures. Most people say that the 1st Amendment grants us our “freedom of religion”. But an exact reading of the Amendment reveals more detail. It indicates that our Puritan forefathers, unlike in England, wanted a complete separation of the church and the state, and no state or government sponsored religion; as well as no prohibition as to the “free exercise” of religion.   

All I know is that I have a lot of empathy for all of our Local, State, and Federal leaders. If they close down the sidewalks for public health, they are berated for causing economic catastrophe. But if they open up the economy too fast, they are in danger of being called “heartless”.       

What I do know is this. We haven’t been in this situation before,  The Spanish Flu of 1918 was close, but the virus, although deadly, was apparently not near as infectious as COVID-19. I am certain, that as a country, we will make mistakes. Hopefully, we can learn from them and not repeat them in the future. 

I am glad that I am not in a position to have to make these tough decisions. And I pray for our country and its leaders to make honest decisions for the public good and not political decisions. We’ll see.  After all it’s an election year. 

Historically in the past, Americans, for the most part, have learned to be disagreeable without threats of violence. The photos of armed persons standing on the steps of the Michigan capital holding their firearms above their heads is clearly meant to be seen as an act of either future terror or at least, intimidation. I felt very concerned for the safety of legislators in the Capital on that date and especially for the two  Michigan State Policemen that were trying to provide security when an idiot is screaming at them from just inches away. 

This type of conduct among some people gives me pause and some anxiety, if a faction of one party is dissatisfied with the national election results as they awaken on the morning of Nov. 4.  These photos of armed men on the steps of the capitol in Lansing, Michigan last week were disturbing and imagine how it “played” in the rest of the world when viewed.