Letters to the editor | Sept. 9 edition

Islanders continue to sound off about the fire chief’s vaccination stance

CRITICAL RACE THEORY

Students deserve truths

As a teacher and as a parent, I wanted to ignore the Critical Race Theory controversy as the red herring that it is. As the conversation began to unfold in The Beachcomber, I wish to add my voice.

Critical Race Theory is the domain of higher education, not K-12. CRT is being misrepresented as a catch-all term to buttress a false claim: white students are harmed by learning hard truths — past and present.

In these times of climate change, racial injustice and a worldwide pandemic, youth of all races have shown themselves to be resilient and strong. We owe it to our youth to present the multi-faceted truths of history— inspirational and dark. It is our job as educators to do so.

Research overwhelmingly demonstrates that many students find school irrelevant. Culturally Relevant Teaching— a different CRT — is the gold standard in pre-K-12 teaching. It aims to equip students with critical thinking skills required to dig deeper into issues and engage with complexity. These skills do not teach students what to think, but how to bring flexible thinking, curiosity, empathy, evidence, and multiple perspectives to bear on complex problems. For example, we do not just teach about human enslavement and how it stripped generations of basic rights through brutalizing oppression, we also teach stories of resistance, resilience, and Black joy, using primary documents and high-quality texts. Teachers know this looks markedly different in pre-K, 5th and 11th grades.

All of us can learn to better understand our inherited legacies and become skillful, positive actors in the creation of a healthier and just future for all. — Jennifer Lindsay

VACCINES

All citizens should take the vaccine

There is no constitutional right to spread disease.

The Constitution expressly says that one of its purposes is to “…promote the general welfare …” Certainly the prevention of disease fits that description. Our country has always responded to the spread of disease appropriately without using it as a pretext to deprive of us of our liberty. It is not different this time.

For example, Typhoid Mary was imprisoned in a hospital for almost thirty years because she was an asymptomatic carrierof a bacteria that caused typhoid, which at the time had no cure. She died there. Should our ancestors have allowed her to continue to kill her employers because she was unaffected?

The current disease is far less deadly than typhoid. But our response was and is correspondingly less drastic.

I understand that I am biased. One of my great grandmothers had 11 children. Five of them died before the age of five of diphtheria or whooping cough. None of her descendants have died of a disease for which there is a vaccine because we take every one that is offered.

Now is the time for all citizens to promote the general welfare: take the vaccine, and obey the precautions. — Paul Montague

FIRE DISTRICT

Question is one of civic duty

The fire chief has refused to get vaccinated against COVID. He claims he is exercising leadership against mandates.

The question here is not mandates, but civic responsibility. A responsible person would have gotten vaccinated as soon as they were eligible, not only for their own protection but also for the protection of their neighbors and co-workers. I got my first shot back in January, and a large majority of Vashon citizens have done so since. My adult children got vaccinated as soon as they were eligible, as well as my two granddaughters over 12 years. We didn’t need a mandate. So where was the fire chief when vaccination was only a matter of civic responsibility, before the governor issued a mandate? Why should he be excused from the responsibility that so many others have accepted? — Robert Murano

Commissioners actions will affect future faith in district

Chief Krimmert takes exception to the governor “making medical decisions for me.”

There is no medical issue here: all medical professionals with relevant expertise agree that the vaccines are safe and effective and that all eligible persons should get vaccinated (unless they can claim a valid exemption).

Chief Krimmert’s public stance converts a public health issue into a political or power issue: the governor has not made a medical decision for Krimmert personally, but a public health decision for the safety of the entire community: persons in public health leadership positions must set an example by being vaccinated.

Chief Krimmert claims that his public defiance is “leadership.” The VIFR commissioners — who surely understand that Gov. Inslee has acted upon sound medical advice and within his authority to protect public safety — must now be the ones to demonstrate real leadership by giving a directive to Chief Krimmert to comply with the Governor’s mandate by becoming fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, 2021.

We do not address the sanctions to be imposed if Chief Krimmert fails to timely comply; we leave that up to the commissioners. But any commissioner lacking the leadership capability to give the directive to the Chief should resign.

We are longtime residents of Vashon, and VIFR is important to our sense of safety and security on Vashon. The commissioners’ response in this situation will affect our continued faith in VIFR. — Hal and Molly Green

Last week’s letters

Thank you Scott Harvey for being the voice of reason. Would the rest of you please put away your pitchforks? — Marcia Pearson

A question of leadership

Leadership is an often misused and misleading word. In my opinion, Chief Krimmert has wrongly used it to justify defying the governor’s mandate for some unstated principle except for his presumed right to value “freedom” over his private “medical” decisions.

To me, leadership means protecting the community’s well-being over hyper-individualism of “free choice” without regard to consequence. There is nothing more basic to the common good than the community’s health. This is where leadership is needed—not a “do as I say, not what I do” dodge.

If Krimmert wants to be a leader he must lead by example. To do otherwise aides and abets the highly politicized anti-vax movement. Doesn’t Chief Krimmert understand that COVID is a life and death matter? What applies to Krimmert applies equally to the commissioners. They represent community and must exercise leadership in this matter. It is not only a matter of complying with the law, but of standing up for what is so clearly right for good of the community. Commissioners, you must direct Chief Krimmert to comply with Governor Inslee’s mandate in an act of true leadership.—Robert Crawford

Why refuse the vaccine’s protection?

Our Fire Chief’s vaccine refusal puzzled me – why did he choose exposure rather than protection from such a life-threatening, transmissible disease. I wondered what would have happened in 1972, had people in Glenville, West Virginia made such a choice.

I had been among 13 docs initiating the National Health Service Corps and chose Gilmer County, the 47th poorest county out of 55 in West Virginia, to provide them with medical care. I became the county health officer. The community retrofitted a church for a clinic and I bought an X-ray machine from government surplus.

One day, I heard pneumonia in the lungs of a person who came in looking deathly ill, despite the penicillin another doctor prescribed. Her chest X-ray was scary enough for me to drive 100 miles to have the university’s chief of radiology read it. Looking at the buckshot throughout her lungs, spleen and liver he said, “Miliary TB” — unchecked tuberculosis had spread throughout her body.

I sent the sickest of the similarly infected family members and neighbors to the state sanitarium, treated the people with active TB, performed skin tests on anyone not previously positive and put the hundreds who converted on the antibiotic, Isoniazid (INH). Eight thousand people were skin-tested. We diagnosed one-third of the cases in West Virginia. No one refused, unlike today, despite that COVID is more easily transmissible and more rapidly lethal. It’s an odd choice, refusing a vaccine’s protection. Why did everyone cooperate then and why is there such resistance today? I don’t get it. — Barry Grosskopf, MD

Lead or step aside

The United States Marine Corps has gotten its vaccines. The Commandant of the Marine Corps is their leader, he commands hundreds of thousands. All police, sheriff and fire chiefs are department heads follow those rules set down for them. If you don’t like it, then quit. Someone with leadership skills will take your place and we will all be the better for it. I am a former policeman, fireman and U.S. Marine. Lead or step aside. — Tom Leigh-Kendall

Chief hasn’t shown leadership

Chief Krimmert takes credit for vaccinating more than 90% of the Island’s residents but refuses to get vaccinated himself. That isn’t leadership. It’s hypocrisy. Fire the chief! — Jim Diers

Vaccination story is Orwellian

This business with Chief Krimmert reads like “Animal Farm 2.0.” I reject the concept that “some are more equal than others”. — John King

Vaccination is something we do for each other

Chief: It’s easy to understand. I have a pile of brush on my burn pile which is in the middle of a well-mowed field. I think I could burn it safely. But there is a burn ban on telling us that no one should burn brush no matter how safe they think the fire will be. We all sacrifice a little “freedom” for the common good of not having wildfires. Getting vaccinated is the same thing as not burning that brush. We do it for each other. A fire chief who does not understand this is not leading us where we want to go. It is not “principled leadership,” it is bullheadedness. Get jabbed or get out. — Pen Stout

Real objection is not mandate

The fire chief has stated that his objection is to the governor mandating vaccination. The mandate is only recent. The vaccines were available before the governor’s mandate. Why didn’t the chief get vaccinated as soon as possible? Before the mandate, since he has been working with island emergency response groups advocating vaccination. It seems to me that the chief’s real objection is not the governor’s mandate. — John Williams

Virus is now in charge

When the fire chief said, “…I do take exception to the governor making medical decisions for me,” I think he was saying that the governor couldn’t legally force him to get vaccinated, perhaps it was unconstitutional and violated his rights.

On most issues I would’ve agreed with him, although one wonders if Inslee had ordered him to not jump off a cliff, would he have jumped to stand up for his rights?

In this case, it isn’t the chief who is jumping off the cliff alone. It’s the chief potentially pushing others off the cliff. If the chief lived in Alaska, 1,000 miles from another human, his behavior would be acceptable. But he lives in our midst and has chosen to endanger all of us as he puts his silly rebellion first.

This is a very special case and it is difficult for me to admit that getting vaccinated is more important than any law or constitution created by man. It is the virus that is running things.

If he’s got a better reason for avoiding the shot, I’d like to hear it. Otherwise, I would fire him immediately. I’ve heard enough scientific denial to last 20 lifetimes. If people had always thought like the chief, polio would be right up there with COVID-19. — Shelley Simon


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