Is Donald Trump worse than Adolf Hitler, or just as bad? Is Nancy Pelosi hoping for an economic disaster in order to thwart a second Trump term? Does Rep. Maxine Waters know how to pronounce Hydroxychloroquine? Is Gov. Mills in favor of the corona virus or opposed to it?

These are hot partisan questions which we set aside in this column. They are impossible to resolve this early in the Pandemic Era and generate unhealthy excitement. It is a little more interesting to turn our attention to those we can all share in despising.

For background purposes we must pause to consider a man we can all agree to honor. I refer here to Larry Lord, just returning from a long, painful visit with health care specialists in Boston. Larry’s job description did not include heroism and self-sacrifice.

There is always a hint of these values in the careers of those we’ve learned to call first responders. In Larry’s case, he behaved in a responsible and caring way when faced with a threat to himself and all those around him. Who would have the nerve to condemn him for shooting through the door and making tracks for a safe, distant point to become a passive watcher.

We can appreciate the Larry Lords of this world better when we consider the villains of the Pandemic Epic. There are plenty of cases. There’s the NJ clown who burdened more than a dozen struggling pizza sellers by calling up and ordering pies for delivery to first responders. Great sense of humor, can’t we all agree? Nearly as funny as stuffing the prankster in a pizza oven and baking him.

Then, selected at random, there’s the man who rammed a Walmart security guard for enforcing social distancing guidelines. No name needed, let him stand for all the other superannuated juvenile delinquents who lose control when disasters of one kind or another thwarts their insignificant wishes.

Let’s move up the evolutionary tree a bit and consider America’s academic overlords. A June 2017 report computed an American college endowment total of $568 billion. Prestigious institutions were doing very well indeed. Princeton had nearly $3 million in endowment for every student; Harvard, $1.2 million per student. Emory University’s endowment is an impressive $7.87 billion.

Many, probably most, among us have received word of reduced services or terminated employment. If that suggests that it’s a good time for American colleges to dip into their endowments to cover their educational services. If so, stop holding your breath at once. You could injure your health beyond recovery.

A late March poll by the Association of American Colleges & Universities reveals that 73 percent of academic presidents have no plans to dip into their endowments to reduce tuition charges. Better yet, the higher education mandarins are complaining that their $14.5 billion share of the coronavirus bailout is “woefully inadequate.” The president of the American Council on Education writes that $50 billion was the bare minimum needed to keep the sector afloat.

Now let’s go down the evolutionary scale for what we may call “the usual suspects.” As more and more restaurants, mom-and-pop stores and even large retailers shut their doors against the pandemic, looters are taking full advantage of the unattended spaces with valuable equipment and sometimes money.

San Francisco, reports  burglaries and looting of restaurants and stores. Thieves smashed into Jack Holder’s Restaurant and Bar in San Jose, stealing several electronic tablets while other looters broke into West Coast Beef Company and made off with the cash register and the safe.

Three suspects were arrested in Fresno County, California for looting a Walgreens and a Save Mart. In Santa Cruz, five men were arrested for burglarizing local shops during the shutdown.

Also on the West Coast, Seattle reports that burglaries have shot up 87 percent in its downtown. The city’s leaders have ordered police to stop booking suspects arrested for most misdemeanors in order to direct their attention to those burglaries.

In New York City, the NYPD reports a 75 percent increase in burglaries of businesses since March.

There are whole categories of follies attributable to governmental zeal, or perhaps intoxication with power. The masters of Frisco, Texas have launched an app tool for use by people eager to report their neighbors for failing to “social distance.’ No information available to determine how many Frisco citizens took advantage of this convenient tool for snitching on their neighbors.

In Mississippi police have been issuing tickets to church attendants for not “social distancing” while sitting in their cars at a drive-up service.

Illinois State Police warned that Christians who attend church on Easter Sunday could face charges, including “reckless conduct.” Whatever the merits of this rule as a means of “flattening the curve,” the First Amendment has not been abrogated and there’s no constitutional provision for its temporary suspension, as in the case of habeas corpus.

It’s fair to point out that Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly announced that “There’s not going to be law enforcement storming into church buildings, that’s not what’s going to happen here. “That’s not the way to do this.” No information yet on the right way. Perhaps it’s enough just to leave the threat hanging.

Some of our fellow citizens, and some foreigners too, have detected a bright, shining silver lining. Let’s hear from Ed Conway, economics editor of Sky News. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” says Ed, “but if you were a young, hardline environmentalist looking for the ultimate weapon against climate change, you could hardly design anything better than [the] coronavirus. Unlike most other such diseases, it kills mostly the old who, let’s face it, are more likely to be climate skeptics. It spares the young. Most of all, it stymies the forces that have been generating greenhouse gases for decades.”

The Pandemic freeze has brought carbon emissions down. And they may well fall even farther, perhaps to pre-World War II levels. Let us rejoice.

John Frary of Farmington, the GOP candidate for U.S. Congress in 2008, is a retired history professor, an emeritus Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United, a Maine Citizen’s Coalition Board member, and publisher of FraryHomeCompanion.com. He can be reached at [email protected]

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