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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, June 12, 2020

Time for a new phase with more stability




A Nashville friend’s recent Facebook post neatly summed up the escalating turmoil we’ve been living through:

“I can’t believe it’s riot season already. I still have my COVID decorations up.”

I had to smile.

Not that we should minimize the serious concerns behind the protests against police and vigilante brutality, and the broad threat posed by a deadly virus. But it does seem that the crises are starting to pile up and compound without much hope of relief or sense of what it is we’re supposed to do.

West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes are apparently back on the scene. And we had a tornado. Remember?

All in all, it’s hard not to worry about what calamity might be next. A plague of locusts coming to town? Or Republicans?

In theory, we’re in the process of easing our way out of the coronavirus restrictions. In Nashville, we’re in Phase 2 of a four-step process, with Phase 3 being delayed by an uptick in cases over the past couple of weeks.

I’m OK with the delay of Phase 3, which among other things will reopen so-called socially driven businesses like bars, clubs and “transportainment.” The latter would include peddle taverns, open-air party buses and tractors pulling mobile bars.

(You can put me down as OK with a permanent ban on transportainment, but I recognize that drunk bachelorettes hold a different view.)

And, as it happens, I’m instituting a personal delay even of Phase 2, never mind 3, since I don’t feel comfortable with the prospect of venturing out among a bunch of folks too many of whom make a point of proudly flouting health guidelines.

Besides, it’s hard drinking beer through a mask.

Hard to exercise, too, which makes it likely I’ll also be holding out even longer than recommended before heading to the gym again. Imagine tromping along on a treadmill and then being visited by a sneezing fit. The dirty looks alone might kill, if embarrassment doesn’t.

True, I’ve never before been hit by a sneezing fit on a treadmill. But I’m not willing to risk it.

I do welcome the curbside service some Nashville libraries are starting to offer, since I’ve had five books on hold for months now. Considering I’m No. 153 in line for one of those books, the full impact won’t exactly be immediate.

As for a potential plague of Republicans, that possibility arose when the party began casting about for a new convention site. Seems the governor of North Carolina balked at White House demands that Charlotte abandon any requirements for masks, social distancing and such during the Trump coronation.

Good for the North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, one of those Southern leader rarities: A Democrat.

Nashville was mentioned as an alternative. Mayor John Cooper noted the broke city has no money for such an event, and the Republican-stacked Legislature suggested the state might be willing to kick in some.

I’m sure they’d do the same for a Democratic convention, right?

Meanwhile, the local protests prompted by the latest in an endless series of killings of blacks by police officers or armed white civilians have given rise to a call for “defunding” the police.

A recent Council meeting inviting comments on budget proposals to raise property taxes by roughly one-third morphed into a stream of calls by residents to shift money away from police operations in favor of more spending on health care, education and unspecified community-based initiatives.

It’s a conversation well worth having. The notion that some situations might best be addressed by people who aren’t carrying guns, and that courts and jails needn’t always be the primary response to social ills, is gaining in the public mind. But it’s not an issue that’s going to be resolved in Metro Council budget debate.

State legislators, meanwhile, returned from coronavirus break with apparently renewed vigor to, among other things, get a statue of Davy Crockett on the Capitol grounds (yes!) and designate the Holy Bible as the official state book (no!).

As an inadvertent service of the Crockett statue proposal, protesters toppled the statue of Edward Ward Carmack, a newspaper editor, politician, prohibitionist – and virulent racist – that had been occupying the Capitol grounds spot now favored for Crockett.

I think the word that describes that is “serendipity.”

Joe Rogers is a former writer for The Tennessean and editor for The New York Times. He is retired and living in Nashville. He can be reached at jrogink@gmail.com.