To the editor:

In her May 15 letter, Ashley W. Sullivan, chair of the Gloucester Republican City Committee, writes that we are not children, in “America, the land of the free.”

We should be “free” of face masks, she writes, and she suggests that restrictions on citizen access to places in order to protect us from spreading virus are an invasion of our “rights.”

“We need the freedom to make the right choices for our own families. It is not up to the government to do that for us, they never get it right anyway,” she writes.

I presume she is writing about our mayor and our governor, but certainly not our president.

After all, he is of the same mind. He has shown a marvelous detachment for the inconvenience of this pandemic. When the first intelligence reports came in from Wuhan, China, he ignored them, minimized them, waved them off. Then he banned flights from China. But by that time people were arriving in America from Europe, carrying COVID-19 virus.

Then he blamed the virus on the Democrats. And he blamed the World Health Organization, and, like a pouty 5-year-old, withdrew American financial support for the world organization fighting this pandemic.

Then, with the same fine American leadership described by Ms. Sullivan, he said “It is not up to (the federal government) to do that for us!” ... or words to that effect.

And so, the fine sentiments of conservative purists have come to the fore. Fortunately, in the case of Massachusetts we have had men and women leaders who did not dodge their responsibility.

Can you imagine if President Franklin D. Roosevelt had said, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, “it’s not my problem.” and let the states figure out how to go to war?

A lot of the time, the federal government does get things right, and they do provide the national help needed in a crisis like this pandemic. Except, of course, when the man at the top muses about taking cleaning fluids internally, or models how not to wear a face mask.

This is the Land of the Free, but it will not stay that way with hands-off “leadership” and then sideline meddling by our president.

Samuel W. Coulbourn

Rockport

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