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Pro-Trump rally story missed the mark

Published: 5/19/2020 2:56:55 PM

I’d like to first thank the Gazette for truly exceptional reporting on and for the community during these trying times. It’s local reporting is tonic to the din of national politics, with its entrenched positions and one-liners and partisan blame games.

Information and local context serves to inform our opinions and enable the tradeoffs we have to make daily in this terrible pandemic. Unfortunately, the Gazette’s May 1 article entitled “Pro-Trump rally Saturday in Northampton to back reopening” didn’t do that for me.

The article on this nationally orchestrated, locally-targeted event seemed totally out of context with our local pandemic situation. Massachusetts has the fourth highest per capita death rate in the country. Over the week preceding the event, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Amherst surged over 70% to 57. Yet, the article didn’t relate the event organizers nor its message to this.

The article came across to me as a non-local political press release. The picture of Texan protestors didn’t help. The rally’s supporting organizations have no involvement in our local communities and their message is contradictory. They state they aren’t “anti-quarantine.” But on the same webpage they claim that their right to defy social distancing restrictions is “not to be erased or paused.” 

They say they represent the majority in this. Yet, almost every public opinion poll finds the vast majority more concerned about coronavirus-related death than economic risks. It’s fine and sounds good to say “America cannot destroy the lives and dreams of the majority to protect a few.” Yet, these groups don’t have to take responsibility nor suffer the consequences of defining who “the few” might be that will be sacrificed.

It is our local community and business leaders, families and elected representatives who are actively working the precarious balance between life and livelihood. Efforts by outside organizations to divert our attention and tip our balance scale to make them and theirs look good — local impact be damned — should not be portrayed as local news and presumably important.

Steve Ehrler


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