Port: Can we stop hating one another long enough to get through this?

We don't need a food fight between the "lock it down" faction and the "let it burn" contingent.

PHOTO: Coronavirus protester bismarck
Kolette Kramer, of Towner, holds a sign at a protest asking Gov. Doug Burgum to allow businesses to reopen on Monday, April 20. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

MINOT, N.D. — To hear my friend Tony Bender put it , those questioning the timeline of government-ordered pandemic restrictions are "troglodytes" who think the lives of others are "expendable."

Left-wing columnist Jim Shaw thinks those critical of pandemic orders ought to be censored . If not by the government, then at least by news editors.

Sports commentator Mike McFeely chimed in to call those "screeching" about freedom "selfish."

Meanwhile, on the right, many of the protesters demanding a reopen of the state and national economy are far too dismissive of the cruel realities of the virus. Worse, some of them are throwing around words like "hoax" and "conspiracy," suggesting that our efforts to at least slow the spread of COVID-19 are motivated less by a desire to save lives than some other nefarious political ends.

Let's remember that the COVID-19 virus has swiftly become the second leading cause of death among Americans, and it's closing in on heart disease for the top position.


There's no hoax; this isn't a conspiracy.

While local journalists toil to keep Americans informed, much of the national news media can't help but see this situation through the filter of their pronounced hatred of President Donald Trump and his allies. Their headlines and talking-head pronouncements are often as inaccurate and hyperbolic as the president's adventures in fabulism.

Speaking of which, Trump, for his part, is as mercurial and self-contradicting as he ever is. He claims supreme power over all American policy, then turns around and pegs responsibility for pandemic response to the state governments.

The maximum authority with minimal accountability is what the man seems to be shooting for.

Folks, none of this is helping.

"The cost of politicizing the disease is it locks people into positions," someone wisely wrote on Twitter . "In fact dealing with an epidemic is an exercise in adaptation."

We don't need a food fight between the "lock it down" faction and the "let it burn" contingent.

We need to stop entrenching ourselves into political positions about the virus.


Do you think we could stop hating one another long enough to do that?

I hope so because we have some tough decisions ahead of us.

If we re-open too fast, people will die, and lives will be ruined.

If we stay shut down for too long, people will die, and lives will be ruined.

Even if we find the Goldilocks moment, that's not too soon and not too long, we're left with the fact that people are dying. Lives are being ruined.

It's high time many of us clambered down from our pedestals of self-righteousness and recognized that we don't have any good choices in front of us.

Just a lot of bad choices, from which we must discern which is the least bad.

Things like ideology and political affiliation are poor guides in that endeavor.


Can we try to set those things aside, and unite in a common cause to get through this with as little carnage as possible?

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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