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April 10 2021
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Governor Brown’s Mask Mandate and The Cost of freedom compared to Vietnam
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Story by Managing Editor - The Oregon Herald - Opinion
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  PANDEMIC  
 
As most of you know, Governor Brown signed a mandate to punish those found not wearing a mask or too many in their household, with a fine of up to $1250 and perhaps sent to jail.

This shocking mandate from our Governor only demonstrates the seriousness of our situation here in Oregon and the rest of the world.

Many of you have written to the editor. And as the editor of The Oregon Herald, I read most of them. Many Oregonians are angry or confused, complaining that you sure "…ain't going to do that. Have that b**** arrest me! I don't give a f*** about that law. I ain't going to do it."

I makes me wonder if those writing like that are real Oregonian or a transplants from Texas. I've lived in Texas, Tennessee, and South Carolina, as well as Washington State and California. And I realize one does not need to have been born out of state to adapt that kind of attitude. We Oregonians have a history of rebellion.

Most of the messages to the editor were somewhat similar. Some worse. There were a few from people who were articulate and had something interesting to say, made me think. Maybe in the near future I'll bring back the "comments" area we used to have eight years ago. We've been online for 20 years now and this article was read by more than 390,000 of our readers.

20 years ago I founded The Oregon Herald after a Bosnian immigrant was shot dead by Lake Oswego police officer. The young Bosnian man had called the police to report a burglary into his apartment. He was protecting himself with a knife, afraid of the intruder. Police arrived quickly but the burglar had already left so the police only saw the victim of the burglary, the Bosnian immigrant. He did not understand English.

When police saw him, they drew weapons and demanded he drop the knife. He was too slow and one officer shot him dead from a distance of about 20 feet!

The officer was not in any immediate danger. The Bosnian was not advancing toward the officer. The officer did not attempt to shoot to wound in a leg, or a warning shot. He just aimed to kill. And that's what he did. And that's what they do.

I wrote the story myself. I was incensed, angry, more than I can say. The officer was not punished and the Bosnian who came to the United States to escape being murdered as were so many from his country, had his life ended by a monster of a police officer who just wanted to shoot and ask questions later.

I offer this this background story so you will better understand my feelings. I do not always support police and sometimes not even governors. I learned long ago that if the New York Times can't do much then the Oregon Herald doesn't have any chance.

So why have I continued with The Oregon Herald for 20 years and as a non-commercial newspaper?

I don't have a clue. Just an alternative to pages filled with advertising. We may offer a few ads in the future, but not now.

And why are so many Oregonians complaining about wearing a mask?

I believe just because they can. And that's about it. A misplaced idea and concept of "freedom".

I'm not sure what those who have written to us want us to do about Governor Brown's mandate. If you can go to jail you might as well call it a law. Let's not get into semantics.

First of all there's nothing I can do about it because we are in the middle of a pandemic. A worldwide pandemic. I have no power. There is no power really.

I'm an American who was born in Portland, Oregon and proud of it. I guess you can call me a moderate liberal. But I'm not bleeding heart; somewhat of a libertarian. As are many Oregonians. But who I am is not important. I believe totally that Governor Brown is trying to protect us, in spite of ourselves. She's not trying to anger you. She's not trying to control you. She's trying to help and in the only way that she can. For this pandemic there are no good answers. And you know it if you stop to think. Governor Brown is not going to operate a soup kitchen. And she's not going to drive around on a police car or motorcycle trying to find you. She'll let the police and deputies catch you. Would you feel the same if our Governor was Tom McCall? You should consider your possible bias.

We all know that many police officers aren't going to do much unless you develop an attitude. And at least one sheriff said he would not arrest anyone if he or his deputies witness anyone not wearing a mask. I believe that's the general feeling in many Oregon counties. Don't blame the governor. She's a good woman doing a hard job, trying to protect Oregonians. She's not the enemy. And I don't much enjoy reading letters from people who say negative things about her sounding like a fourth grader who just learned how to curse.

Some of the messages are sickening. I'd like to meet them some night in darkness and dare them to say nasty things about an elected official trying to help. You know who you are and you should be ashamed.

But you'll never be ashamed. You enjoy complaining without thinking, complain about something you know nothing about, just a gut reaction without having an expanded view of the world. Lots of conspiracy theories running in your brain? Take a deep breath of that virus!

Then there are the other readers, decent people who simply don't like to be told what to do. You've got your freedom and by god you're going to hang onto it at all costs. No one"s gonna tell you what to do especially a woman, right?

Wrong.

She's the Governor. And I assume you are an Oregonian unless you just moved from out of state to complain. Oregonians have a history of being independent. Most knows this. I'm proud of Oregon, proud of the independence and our history goeing back far and long.

I'm a capitalist. Or I used to be, a really heavy strong give me liberty and let me make as much money as I can without worrying about many consequences. I'm being a bit dramatic as I was not that bad. But I think you get my point.

But I have adapted. I'll tell you why.

Four years ago I left the United States as I said I would after Donald Trump was elected. I also left to see a friend. But once I was here in Vietnam, I was impressed with the country.

Yes. I said Vietnam. A communist country. Some will write and say, "Stay there. Don't come back." But most of you don't even know what a communist is. Admit it. I am not a communist but I like the people of Vietnam.

But do you really know what a communist is? I doubt it. The people here, most of them don't know what a communist is. They don't care. Yeah, sure, I love my freedom. And I'm not about ready to go out into the middle of the street and start yelling about the country here. I'm a guest. I've been here about four years and I have never seen an accident. Never. Yeah, people get killed and there are stupid accidents but I've never seen any. And I only see police perhaps once a month and they always seem to be friendly. True. They are not required much here. And I've traveled all over Vietnam, from the far north to the far south and in the middle of the country.

I don't see prostitutes on the street or drunks or people arguing or panhandlers much like I do in the Philippines. And in the United States. But that's not a real problem. Not many homeless people sleeping on the streets here. Perhaps in a few larger cities but not much.

As of today about 260,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. And that's out of population of more than 300 million.

Vietnam is about 1/3 that size with 100 million citizens. And how many Vietnamese do you think died here in Vietnam from COVID-19?

Less than 50 people!

That's right. You read correctly. Less than 50 people. And about half of all citizens walk around with no masks. They don't worry about anything much at all here. They are often poor, honorable, and proud people. The it is because the Vietnamese government carefully and pleasantly asks everyone to wear masks and stay inside for a while. Or at least wear masks when they need to go out in public. About half wear masks. I go anywhere I want here in Vietnam. t's not a problem.

How free are you in The United States of America?

You may wonder how Vietnam controlled the Pandemic, a country next to China? You may think but Vietnamese army like storm troopers marching around threatening people to put them in jail?

No. Not at all.

Vietnam is mostly an organized community. A commune. Call then communist if you want. Heads of each city pass coordinated plans to their local districts so there is an intelligent plan to please wear your mask. That's about it. And when there is even a suspected person who may be sick with the virus, they are immediately quarantined. I know because it happened in the place where I live. Fortunately it turn out not to be covid-19 but a standard flu.

People here in Vietnam basically do what they are told. Are there agitators in Vietnam? Yeah a few in the big cities. But not much compared to the US. People don't think like that here. And you say to yourself 'yeah because they're not free!' That's BS. I've been here over four years and I don't see anyone being harassed by the government. Does it happen? You're damn right it does. And if it happened to me I'd be really upset. But it hasn't. People mind their business and when a typhoon hits or there is huge flood or pandemic - they all help each other and follow the plan and more or less don't complain.

And I'll tell you something more; Vietnamese people are more civilized than Americans. That's right I said that. More civilized. It means Vietnamese people treat each other with much more respect. They are civil. They don't go around shooting each other because someone pulls in front of them with their car or motorbike. They don't go into schools and shoot innocent children to death. Guns are not allowed here. They are not needed. No one complains. People don't walk around with knives. Very little crime of any significance, especially in the medium sized cities. I can feel totally free to walk into a busy neighborhood at 2 AM and talk to a group of young men who are for want of a better term, in a gang. But their attitude, at least with me, is friendly and curious. No guns. No knives, no attitude. Crime does exist but nowhere near what you find in the US.

And where I am in Da Lat, one mile high in the mountains, the daytime temperature is always about 72°F. Winter and summer.

Currently because of covid-19 it's not safe to leave Vietnam. I can't see my two-year-old baby daughter.

Now I've gone on a lot about Da Lat Vietnam. But I'm simply using this as an example. I've come to the conclusion that I'm willing to give up some non important freedom for security and peace. I never thought I'd say that. But it's a fact. Currently, the United States is one screwed up country. But I love it. And now just perhaps America will slowly return to a country that allows immigrants a chance to for a new life once again. The congress will be the same. Even Joe Biden can't solve that dilemma. America is not the best in everything any more. But I still have hope. Let good Governors lead. Let bad presidents fade away. But of course, that will never happen.

As Oregonians we should listen to our governor. Not blindly. But give it a chance. What other plan do you have? Stop complaining. We can still exercise our rights under our constitution, voice our opinions. But Governor Brown is attempting to help. What would YOU do as Governor during this pandemic? Ask yourself that question and be honest. What would you do? Consider freedom and security and what is really important. How would you feel if you are forced to pay $1250 or any fraction thereof or develop COVID-19 while you are locked up in jail?

You'll do what you want. My words really don't mean anything. I will not change you that easily. Maybe it will take covid getting into your lungs. I am not important. But Governor Brown is.

I feel okay about writing this. Many will disagree. Maybe it will make you think just a little. I doubt it but what the hell. Try not to complain too much. And just one more thing, please put on a mask! It may not save your life but that's not the point. Because if you're contaminated with covid-19 and don't know it then you could be infecting another person by simply not wearing a mask. And that's the basic idea.

You can walk around and do whatever you please to yourself but when you potentially infect other people then you are responsible for potentially killing another human being. That's what Governor Brown is concerned about; Oregonians.