Wissot: Fighting a war on two fronts | VailDaily.com
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Wissot: Fighting a war on two fronts

Fighting a war on two fronts makes victory more difficult and elusive. In World War II, we had no choice but to fight that way. After the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, followed by Germany and Italy declaring war against us four days later, we were forced to divide our troops between the Pacific and Europe.

We are currently fighting a very different kind of war against a very different type of enemy: COVID-19 in all its successive mutations. We are also fighting this war on two fronts: one scientific and the other political.

Whereas we had no choice but to divide our forces in World War II, we do now. The scientific community’s battle against the coronavirus is entirely necessary. The hyper-elevated political bickering is both unnecessary and counter productive. It makes the job of scientists harder.



A key reason for our success in World War II was that the country pulled together and remained solidly supportive of President Franklin Roosevelt. Sacrifices had to be made. The civilian population was asked to ration precious commodities needed to feed and supply the troops. Supplies such as gasoline, butter, canned milk and sugar were rationed so they could be provided for the war effort. Many people got three gallons of gas a week.

Citizens were also asked to contribute to the war cause. Rubber needed to build airplanes and other equipment was in short supply because the rubber plantations in Asia were under Japanese control. FDR asked citizens to help by contributing old tires, rubber raincoats, garden hoses, shoes and bathing caps.



Republicans didn’t undermine the president’s efforts by calling him a socialist or communist for creating the War Production Board. The WPB directed car manufacturers to shift production at their plants from automobiles to guns, trucks, tanks and aircraft engines. In 1941, three million cars were manufactured in the U.S.. During the entire war, only 139 additional cars rolled off the assembly lines.

FDR wasn’t labeled a tyrant for rationing the purchase of basic household goods. Civilian compliance and cooperation was viewed as patriotic. Today Joe Biden imposes vaccine mandates on businesses with more than 100 employees and the reactionary right is furious.

The challenge of stopping the spread of the promiscuously transmissible omicron variant is daunting. We are fighting a deadly enemy that has already claimed twice as many civilian lives in less than two years, 800,000, as the 400,000 military men and women we lost between 1941-45.

This war against a global disease demands an all-hands-on-deck effort from us, and instead we are hard-pressed to get all hands to take this enemy seriously. We are cutting off our partisan noses to spite our ideological faces.

Refusing to get vaccinated, wear masks in indoor settings, socially distant in close quarters, is like opposing the policies of an “oppressive” government in rationing butter and soliciting donations for old raincoats and garden hoses. What was once viewed as patriotic by many is now seen as anti-democratic and an assault on our basic rights and freedoms by some.

During World War II, we looked upon our troops as our protectors. Our protectors now are the doctors and nurses working in hospital ICUs who are understaffed and overworked. The shame of it is that need not be the case. The overwhelming majority of COVID patients in ICUs are unvaccinated.

Getting vaccinated is the best way for someone to support our front-line medical workers and at the same time avoid ending up in a hospital bed or a cemetery plot. Now that we have safe and effective vaccines, there is no reason to die from the virus unless you have a death wish.

The choices are simple and absurdly commonsensical. We can either trust the uncertainty of science or the certainty of stupidity. Science sometimes gets it wrong. Stupidity always gets it wrong. Science is predicated on fallibility. It expects to make mistakes and then correct them when the evidence proves otherwise. Stupidity is founded on an illusion of infallibility. It is always wrong and never right because it doesn’t draw upon facts and logic to reach its conclusions.

Some people draw comfort from their faith in ignorance. It is their choice to make as individuals. But it would be the height of folly for us as a society to follow them down that same doomed rabbit hole.

We are at a turning point as we enter the third year of a war against an enemy every bit as insane as the kamikaze Japanese pilots who dove their planes into American aircraft carriers and the Nazi doctors who performed sadistic experimental operations on concentration camp prisoners.

COVID is a predator that sees us as prey. Its survival is predicated on more of us getting infected. It doesn’t know if it is infecting Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives. The virus isn’t killing more people per capita in deep red states than deep blue states because those states voted for Trump but because the vaccination rates in Alabama (47%) and Idaho (46%) are much lower than in Vermont (75%) and Massachusetts (73%).

Right now our best weapon in this war are vaccines. Down the road we may be able to rely upon monoclonal antibody treatments in order to reduce severe sickness. But not quite yet. Not until we can supply enough treatments to keep up with rising demand.

So to the vaccine hesitant and resistant reading this column please do your patriotic part.

Show us your true red, white and blue colors.

Stop acting like drama queens and get the damn vaccines.


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