4/4 Acton

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton shows a homemade cloth mask during the April 4 press conference at the Ohio Statehouse.

Dear Dr. Amy,

Consider this a love letter from Ohio.

If we could all flood your lawn and surround your house in a massive hug to protect you from those haters, we would.

But you taught us to social distance to save each other, so you’re going to have to visualize our love as a force field around you, along with the protection of the Bexley Police Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol which is monitoring your neighborhood.

I know I’m just one person, but everyone in my world loves you.

Seriously.

My grandkids think you’re a superhero. An action figure, or perhaps, an Act-On Figure. They know that not all heroes wear capes, that some of them wear lab coats.

Still, it’s sad but true: Haters are gonna hate. Why?

First, Amy Acton, you’re a woman. A woman who dares to speak up and use her power. A woman who dares to be bolder and fiercer and smarter than a whole lot of men. You’re the first woman director of the Ohio Department of Health, kind of like the surgeon general of Ohio. That makes many men, and some women who want to stay submissive, uncomfortable.

Second, you’re Jewish. The world has a long, terrible history of ignorance and fear that led people to blame the Jews for everything. How awful to see a man carrying that anti-Semitic sign, “Jewish Leadership John 7:1,” a bible verse that refers to Jewish leaders plotting to kill Jesus.

Then there was the minivan passing the Ohio Statehouse with the sign, “The Real Plague,” in the blue and white Israeli flag colors with a rat wearing a Star of David.

After you made reference to your Jewish heritage, state Rep. Sen. Andrew Brenner used Facebook on Holocaust Remembrance Day to compare your actions to save us all from COVID-19 to the Nazis rounding up people to kill them. Brenner said he wouldn’t allow the Jewish Ohio Department of Health director to turn Ohio into Nazi Germany.

His wife also posted a photo of a concentration camp with this caption: “If people were told to get in cattle cars to be taken to virus protection camps, most of you would rush to get in line …”

Brenner later apologized.

Third, you’re a registered Democrat; Gov. Mike DeWine is a Republican. I love that he reached across the aisle to hire you, but others are turning this into a political chess game and you’re the queen with all the power. The Ohio House voted 58 to 37 to limit your power. Your power scares them. Women do that – we scare people when we use our power. DeWine promised to veto that bill if it made it to his desk. Thanks, Mike.

Fourth, you’re popular. Envy feeds anger. You have a huge fan club. A New York Times column said you are the leader we all wish we had. You have a Facebook Fan page. Little girls dress their dolls in lab coats. Adults post memes like, “Keep Calm and Act On.”

Fifth, you are using science and facts and evidence against this virus. Science scares and angers a lot of people in this country, like the anti-vaccine crowd which invited measles to return to kill children.

Those people wandering around your yard with guns? They are bent on intimidation because the truth scares them. It’s easier to grab their guns than open their minds to new information that might challenge them to change.

Stay strong.

There are 11.6 million people in Ohio. We are cheering you on. You have saved countless lives. You turned wearing a face mask into an act of love. You turned this global pause into a spiritual reset.

I’m proud that Ohio was the first to close schools. In April, Ohio lost 975 to coronavirus. Michigan, which has a smaller population, lost 3,000.

I love that your neighbors have sat in solidarity on your lawn, wearing their face masks and keeping 6 feet apart. Those protesters are clueless that the lives you are saving are the lives of the people they love.

Our First Amendment right to assemble is being tested. I see it this way: our First Amendment right to free speech doesn’t cover yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater, just like our First Amendment right to assemble doesn’t cover spreading a deadly virus.

You told us, “I don’t want you to be afraid. I’m not afraid. I’m determined.”

Tough times don’t last. Tough women do.

On those days when you feel over-whelmed by the madness in your front yard, I hope your own words empower and comfort you:

“You are moving mountains. You are saving lives. This is no small thing what you are doing. I am absolutely certain you will look back and know that you helped save each other in this state.”

Dr. Amy, Ohio thanks you.


Read Regina Brett online at cjn.org/regina. Connect with her on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans. 2019 APME Best Columnist.

Disclaimer

Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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