Whose side are we on?

Montana Viewpoint
Jim Elliott
Thursday, April 2, 2020
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“A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.”

— George W. Bush September 11, 2001

There is no symbolic date like Sept. 11, 2001 that we can use to define the coronavirus pandemic. If there were, the tragedy unrolling before our eyes might allow us to be more united in fighting it. In the suddenness of 9/11, there was no time to second guess what had happened, because it was so immediate and awful.

The only thought was to come together for the benefit of all. But with the almost leisurely onset of the coronavirus pandemic there has been plenty of time for speculators in political intrigue, both domestic and foreign, to manufacture conspiracies that are driving Americans apart. That is a fruitless avenue to pursue.

Fruitless for us, but not for Russia’s leader and former master-spy Vladimir Putin who, if he is not already adding fuel to the fire, is certainly warming his hands by it. Why? Because the more divided we Americans are amongst ourselves the better it is for Russia’s future. No more NATO, no more sanctions, no more accountability for military aggression, no more American supremacy.

Those who are spreading the information that the virus is no big deal—“the common cold, weaponized” as Rush Limbaugh succinctly put it— are doing it for political reasons that have passed their usefulness, if they ever had any. Their purpose is to deflect what they see as attacks on the presidency. There is no attack on the President, the attack is on the people of America and the world and that is where our concern should be directed.

We now see more and more Americans going to the internet to get information provided by people who claim to have knowledge that can neither be verified or countered by reasonable people. Chief among their claims is that the coronavirus pandemic is being blown out of proportion by the traditional media for some nefarious purpose. Tell that to the dying. Tell that to the nurses and doctors and volunteers who are risking their lives to help others. Tell that to the hospitals who are completely overwhelmed by the crush of patients.

There are three components to the crisis, one is the human toll and another is the economic toll both of which are great. Some are saying that it is better to relax restrictions on sheltering in place and let people expose themselves to the virus by going about business as usual than it is to allow further damage to the economy. I do not see those who are promoting this view lining up to sacrifice their own lives for the cause of a good economy.

And that leads us back to Putin and the third component. The Soviet Union is gone but their political aggression is alive and well in the Russian Republic. Putin, the Russian leader, was at one time a foreign intelligence officer in the KGB, the Soviet Union’s spy agency. Before he became the President of Russia, he headed the Russian FSB — same agency, different name. His character as a bad actor has been well established internationally, and his desire to weaken the United States by any means is also well established by every U. S. intelligence organization. Americans fighting other Americans is playing right into his hands and is a threat to American supremacy.

That is why we need to stop fighting amongst ourselves. We are not our enemy. Putin is. With our elections not seven months away we could not give Putin a greater gift than to attack each other.

There is politics and there is America. It is time to set our politics aside and unite to defend our great nation.

Jim Elliott served sixteen years in the Montana Legislature as a state representative and state senator and four years as chairman of the Montana Democratic Party. He lives on his ranch in Trout Creek. Montana Viewpoint appears in weekly papers across Montana and online at missoulacurrent.com.