Letters to the Editor

April 5 letters to the editor

Response to letters from Callen and Efaw

Michael Callen’s and Larry Efaw’s defense of President Trump’s description of COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” (DP-03-29-20) contains misstatements of fact to reveal that politicians weaponize diseases for political purposes.

First, Callen’s rough overview of disease names as sites of origin to present Trump as a truth-teller oversimplifies and politicizes history. “German measles” does not, as he claims, derive from an assumed origin of the disease in Germany; in fact, there was no Germany when the disease was identified.

The name “German measles” relates to the physicians who studied the virus, not its site of origin. German-speaking doctors identified what we know as rubella as distinct from measles and scarlet fever in 1814. They called it “Röteln” due to the reddish and pinkish rash associated with the disease.

Likewise, the most recent historical research on the Spanish flu indicates that influenza did not start in Spain, but in either British and French military camps in France, in Kansas, or in northern China.
Historians also agree that the disease rapidly circled the globe three times due to the military mobilization and global nature of the First World War. Diseases do not have a nationality. In fact, Spanish contemporaries called the “Spanish flu” the “Naples Soldier.”

Naming a disease after an assumed country of origin is never an honor or mere “fact”; it is meant to be demeaning. Historians underscore that naming the influenza outbreak the “Spanish flu” fed a frenzied flu rhetoric that portrayed the Spanish people as irrational and in need of control.

Naming COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” is an intentional insult at a time of popular panic and cultural trauma. The very unstable character of a pandemic disease makes it particularly susceptible to dramatic manipulation.
Finally, real leaders are above distracting, unprofessional and undiplomatic conduct of name-calling and assigning blame during a pandemic when we all face the same medical and economic consequences related to COVID-19.

Better to focus on productive international collaboration to control the disease than to grandstand and exploit COVID-19 for personal political benefit.

Katherine B. Aaslestad

Local student supports levy for library

I love the Morgantown Public Library. With this levy, it can continue doing fun activities for kids like me to enjoy. Examples are the summer book club, Dungeons and Dragons (DND) and the Harry Potter-themed events. My favorite was the Yule Ball. My whole family got dressed up and had a great time celebrating with our friends. Harry Potter trivia was my favorite part. If you are a kid, there are so many fun events you can go to at the library.

I also love this library because it contains portals to other worlds. That is what books are. I also enjoy getting movies there. Without the library, I wouldn’t have been able to watch the Star Wars prequels. It has lots of different types of books, ranging from children’s books, young adult books and adult books. It has multiple computers, including two for your kids to play on while you pick out books. It also has a reading area.

The library is located downtown, so it is in walking distance from a lot of places. Another thing I love about the library is that it has a parking just across the street if your house isn’t within walking distance. The Morgantown Public Library is definitely the best library I know. Please support our library by voting for the levy on June 9.

Tessa is a fourth grader at Mountainview Elementary School.

150 vouchers available for Fix-A-Feral

The Monongalia County Humane Society (MCHS) is funding the spaying and neutering of 150 stray or feral cats during its spring Fix-A-Feral program that began March 1.

“We want to do our part to control the stray and feral cat population in our local community,” said Lisa Maxey, MCHS president.

Roughly half of the 146 million cats in the United States are feral or unowned.

“We are issuing 150 vouchers to cover the cost of spay/neuter and a rabies shot,” said Maxey. MCHS will also loan humane traps, on a short-term basis, to those who need assistance catching the stray or feral cats they care for.

MCHS hopes this program will help decrease the number of stray and feral cats in Monongalia County. The group’s first Fix-A-Feral program held in September and October was a huge success with 100 vouchers distributed in just 10 days.

“Spaying 150 cats will make a huge difference,” said Maxey. “It prevents hundreds and even thousands of kittens from being born, prevents unnecessary suffering for these animals and reduces the risk of rabies spreading from wildlife to these community cats.”
To participate in the program, individuals may obtain a Fix-A-Feral voucher by calling 304-599-9533.

Participating veterinary clinics include AVS Vet Express, Fairmont Veterinary Hospital, Morgantown Veterinary Care and Paw Prints Veterinary Clinic.

Vouchers are limited to five per person.

For more information about MCHS, visit its Facebook page.

Lisa Maxey is the president of Monongalia County Human Society.

America has a history of perseverance

Each time America has been roused and fully awakened by extraordinarily tough challenges like war, terrorism or disease, we have proven ourselves worthy. We have banded together, looked out for one another, went without when necessary and laughed as we did it. That’s the American character.

For example, take the Boston Massacre, which happened 250 years ago, on March 5, 1770. People across the American colonies were awakened to the fact that their British government was no longer their protector but their persecutor. Tough realization, that. People were killed.

But the British firing on our people served to unleash a key aspect of that American reaction — a quite determined competitive streak, probably part of our experience pushing forward on the frontier. We rather like a big challenge, don’t we? Like boxers, we go into the ring, learning the best ways to fight our opponents, no matter their size, discovering their tricks and exploiting their weaknesses.

General George Washington did exactly that in defeating the armies of the British Empire, the most powerful country on earth in his day. It took him a while. Still, he bobbed and weaved until he could finally land the knockout blow against the British at Yorktown. Washington had the patience of Job — but then he took his opportunity, struck hard and won. Europe could not believe it. The great British bully had been bested.

So today, if our country’s best health experts say that the only way to secure victory from this coronavirus is to stay at home for a while, talking on the phone instead of getting together for now, then that’s just what we’ll have to do.

To hear that it’s our patriotic duty to simply stay at home is hard on many of us, as we like to be more action-oriented. However, Americans are practical and smart in the end. We’ll do whatever works to secure the victory.
As we have always done, we’ll do it together.

Stephen N. Reed

Morgantown should be run more efficiently

In my opinion, Morgantown is run by a group of blooming narcissists. This group, along with WVU, has turned the downtown into a ghost town. The only businesses lining both sides of High Street are restaurants, pizza shops, pawn shops and the homeless standing here and there often asking for money.

If I eat out, I am not going to pay $2 or more to park while I eat. Why not go out of town where parking is free?

Going into Morgantown up Brockway Avenue and across the Walnut Street bridge is like traveling on the old wagon train roads. A rut here, a rut there, hoping you don’t bottom out along the way.

The $3 fee per person to have the honor of working in Morgantown was not enough. I understand they want to raise the price even higher and up the sales tax another cent. This happens when you vote friends into office. They have no idea how to work together to make things successful.

I think all towns, cities and the state should have a small group of common people looking at each budget to see where all monies go and look at areas where changes could take place to save tax dollars.

The roundabout on the Mileground is not a working piece of art. I am surprised there isn’t a wreck there every day. Now, the brains behind the dream want to put another at the other end of the Mileground, one on the Green Bag Road and, of all places, where University Avenue and Collins Ferry Road meet.

I suggest before spending the taxpayers’ money, you find a farmer to come and explain how to design these intersections to allow them to do what they are there for. Sometimes, just a little tuck here and a little tuck there makes things work efficiently. Heaven only knows, we don’t want to make people turn here or there when they used to do it this way.

Linda Newcome

Social Darwinism new policy of Republicans

With the rise of the Far Right and the Radical Right, we not only have been experiencing the growth of “survival-of-the-fittest” social Darwinist ideology in today’s national Republican Party (especially in the U.S. Congress) featuring their desire not only to cut and reduce spending on all of the federal government’s social programs that help the middle and lower classes (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, college student loans), but we also get their growing cold-hearted desire to abolish all of those programs. They try to keep this a secret from the American people, as authors Jane Mayer and Nancy MacLean have well documented by pointing out how they often use “stealth tactics,” which are part of what Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Krugman characterizes as their “bad faith.”

And along with this, we get what Alfred Hitchcock referred to as “brutality with a smile.”
An example of this was when presidential candidate Donald Trump mocked, made fun of, insulted, disrespected and humiliated candidate Carly Fiorina by shouting, “Look at that face!”

I still find it hard to believe that any human being could have been so cruel, sadistic and abusive as to humiliate another human being like that, especially a very accomplished woman who had to bury a child due to drug addiction and who has had a double mastectomy. Ms. Fiorina has suffered greatly in life and did not deserve to be abused and publicly humiliated like that. No one does.

But as someone who believes in God and who converted to Christianity in 1980, I believe that ultimately we are all held accountable and will be held accountable for how we have treated others in life, and that includes a right-wing, serial spouse-cheater and dirtbag like Donald Trump.

Stewart B. Epstein
Rochester, N.Y.

A thank-you note for a local funeral home

I just want to send a thank you to the Fred L. Jenkins Funeral Home for the daily words of encouragement and timely scriptures from the Bible.

We live not too far from the funeral home, and I have watched as the staff in the parking lot reverently greet their guests on such sad occasions.

Well done and my thanks.

Jan Yanni

Morgantown needs to do better for bicyclists

The City of Morgantown has had a bicycle plan since 2013 and yet cycling within Morgantown remains a hazardous activity.

Nationally, there are 580,000 cyclists who go to the ER, 20,000 who are admitted and 700 who are killed annually. The dearth of sidewalks, road-side trails and bicycle lanes combined with the density of high-traffic, higher-speed roads to be crossed is enough to deter most would-be cyclists.

While 22.1% of WVU employees and 24.3% of students have indicated that they are willing to bike to school or work, only 3% actually do so. West Virginia prides itself on the quality of its outdoor experiences, but falls short in helping our own citizens get outdoors by biking to work or school.

University students and young professionals are some of the most likely groups to commute by bike, but WVU does not even make the list of Great College Values Top 50 bike-friendly colleges and college towns. You might be tempted to blame the hills, but the University of Colorado at Boulder ranks No. 5 and Colorado State University ranks No. 1.

Habits formed during the university years are very predictive of adult behavior and, as the state leading the country in obesity and diabetes, we need to encourage more active lifestyles for all citizens.
WVU was named a “Bicycle-Friendly University” by the League of American Bicyclists in 2019. The Office of Sustainability has been investigating ways to improve cycling among students, and some shared-lane markings have been installed in Evansdale. Several good trails exist but are not connected in a way to make them useful for commuting.

The City of Morgantown needs to help complete the effort by installing additional paths as recommended by the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Bicycle Plan.

This would link our high density population areas to the hubs of work and study within our community.

Until cycling is perceived as safe within the city, we will remain locked in the current traffic nightmare.

Kimberly Bailey