Herman Cain was a Black politician and author, business executive, radio host, syndicated columnist and tea party activist from Georgia. He was also a provocative candidate for the 2012 Republican Party nomination.

He had served on the boards of Nabisco, Whirlpool, Reader’s Digest and was chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City for seven years. He was no fool, yet Herman Cain was one of those who attended Donald Trump’s rally on June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, where it is believed that he and others contracted the coronavirus. He refused to wear a mask, nor did he socially distance from others who also neglected to heed CDC warnings. He died of the disease in July in an Atlanta hospital.

Cain was not unlike thousands of naïve Americans who have not only put themselves at risk, but have endangered family members, friends and co-workers by disdaining mask wearing and social distancing. At a time when one might have expected the president of the United States to have been in the executive office fighting the virus, the fact is he was spending his days attending political rallies surrounded by enthusiasts who wore MAGA hats, but who rarely wore protective masks. Few of his loyalists practiced social distancing.

Since Feb. 10, Donald Trump sponsored 45 such political events, all of which were dangerous to the health of those who attended. (At one rally, 23 people were contaminated.)

Author Bob Woodward recently played a recording from a February interview in which Trump admitted to Woodward that the disease was airborne and incredibly deadly. Trump kept that critical information away from the American public.

At the White House, he invited guests to events that directly resulted in the spread of the virus. On one occasion, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and her family attended. She was unmasked. Many in the audience became infected. Lack of caution resulted in White House staff members and the president’s family getting infected. Then we learned five or more of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff were infected and he refused to quarantine.

Such behavior is known as reckless endangerment. One is guilty of first degree reckless endangerment when, under circumstances evincing depraved indifference to human life, one recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person.

When such a criminal charge is brought, the prosecutor must establish that the defendant was engaged in conduct that created a grave and unjustified risk of death; that he or she was aware of and consciously disregarded this risk; and it was a gross deviation from the standard conduct of a reasonable person in the particular situation. The evidence must show one acted in a manner evincing a depraved indifference to human life. A person who is depravedly indifferent is not just willing to take a grossly unreasonable risk to human life. Instead, that person does not care how the risk turns out.

Trump’s disease-spreader rallies occurred in 18 states, usually at airports. He visited North Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin and Florida most frequently. Sometimes more than one location in a state was visited on the same trip. At none of Trump’s rallies was the wearing of a protective mask mandatory. He repeatedly mocked candidate Joe Biden for wearing a mask.

COVID-19 cases are spiking, and cold weather promises even greater risks of the disease spreading. The state’s top health officer, Dr. Mandy Cohen, has asked our county commissioners and those of 35 other counties to consider levying fines against those who refuse to wear masks in public. The commissioners are encouraging compliance but taking no stronger enforcement on compliance. We already know that Sheriff Ronnie Fields has said he will not enforce mask-wearing laws.

During World War II, my mother was an air raid warden in Oceanside, Long Island. She would go around with her helmet on at night, blowing her whistle and asking her neighbors to turn out lights and darken their homes with blackout curtains. No one objected. No one failed to follow her orders. Why? Because under President Franklin Roosevelt’s compelling war leadership, everyone gladly and voluntarily followed orders for a united nation to achieve victory. To have objected on “constitutional grounds” (as some now do to wearing masks) would have been deemed unthinkable.

The pandemic will continue for months and perhaps years until a safe vaccine is universally available. Meanwhile, refusing to wear a mask in a public place in order to protect one’s self, neighbors, friends and the most vulnerable in society is unpardonable and unpatriotic.

Paul R. Dunn lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at paulandbj@nc.rr.com.

(9) comments

Mark Hayes

Paul Dunn, you seem incapable of contributing a column without displaying your contempt for Trump, we get it. As you applaud FDR keep this in mind, I doubt those 110,000 Japanese, 66,000 American citizens, gladly went to the internment camps, loosing all but the clothes on their back and what they could carry. Roosevelt's actions were based on racism, and war hysteria, causing the most atrocious violations of American civil rights for that time. BTW I do support using all available means to avoid the spread of the virus, although I find those like yourself much like a virus, someone to be avoided.

Jim Tomashoff

The editors of The Pilot, it seems to me, have a difficult decision to make. Of course they want to protect the freedom of speech of people who choose to comment. But we know, factually, notwithstanding the alt-right/libertarian ideologues who claim masks don't work, that they do work. A long time ago the Supreme Court found that freedom of speech does have limits. The oft repeated example is that someone cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater causing a panic when there is no fire. How are comments that "masks don't work" in this context any different? They're not. Kent and the others, if believed, can result in god knows how many additional infections causing god knows how many additional deaths here in Moore County. Refusing to publish such comments is not censorship of free speech, it is, rather, protecting your reader's health and safety. It's long past time to ban Kent from making such assertions. Let him, and others, find a different medium to publish their rants.

“In 2006, Cain was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer, metastases to his liver, and a 30 percent chance of survival. After he underwent surgery and chemotherapy, the cancer was reported to be in remission.” I suppose one could say that he had a rather serious pre-existing condition? Masks don’t work, otherwise there would be zero deaths in Moore County retirement homes with very strict rules.

Stephen Woodward

Masks are virtue signaling. Intended to comfort hysterical snowflakes. Get a life.

Sally Larson

And, if anyone says masks don't work, please post the source you got that information from. Or.... just say "you don't think" masks work.

Sally, search on “masks don’t work”, in DuckDuckGo. Google blocks many of these citations.

Sally Larson

Kent, really? You are asking me to download some alternate web browser to find an obscure site supporting your belief that masks don't work. Kent, this says volumes about you.

For instance, in The Federalist: “These 12 Graphs Show Mask Mandates Do Nothing To Stop COVID. No matter how strictly mask laws are enforced nor the level of mask compliance the population follows, cases all fall and rise around the same time.”

Jim Tomashoff

Of course Kent commends and cites The Federalist. Consider the following assessment of this rag:

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Federalist published numerous pieces that contained false information or information that was contrary to the recommendations of public health experts and authorities. The Federalist published articles denouncing social distancing, as well as articles claiming that fears over the pandemic had been overhyped by the Democratic Party and the media. The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis said that Democrats were intentionally trying to "destroy the economy" as a "last-ditch 2020 play", and that "All they care about is power. And if they have to destroy your life and business to get power back, they will." The Federalist published articles calling on the government to quickly end social distancing directions, and to open businesses again.] Co-founder Domenech attacked a prominent analysis from Imperial College London which estimated the loss of life due to the pandemic; Domenech attacked the analysis for revising its figures downward, but the reason that the analysis did so was that the analysis incorporated the social distancing and shutdown strategies that had increasingly been implemented. Tracinski, a former contributor, wrote in Bulwark that The Federalist devolved over time into a "conspiracy-mongering partisan rag that has now become a menace to public health"

A conspiracy minded ...menace to public health. Just like Kent is. What a coincidence.

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