To the editor: As a former federal prosecutor and constitutional law professor, I have always had faith our nation will emerge from darkness and ignorance so long as we study history and respect science and scientific inquiry. However, Judith Walzer Leavitt's op-ed article article about our abandonment of respect for public health has made me question my rosy prognostications.
Freedom to do whatever one wants was not part of the founding principles of our country. The framers conceived of a political structure where those involved would be virtuous.
In the Federalist Papers, the word "virtue" or its derivative is used some 30 times. Having "virtue" or being "virtuous" at that time meant "caring for the common good."
In fact, Alexander Hamilton described those who would lead the republic as those "who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society."
The proliferation of state laws weakening health officials' ability to protect public safety, and the insistence by many on prioritizing personal selfishness over caring for the health of their neighbors, demonstrates that anti-science, ideologically-driven lawmakers and their followers lack virtue.
I am losing faith. In the Old Testament, King Solomon proposed splitting a baby and awarding the halves to each woman claiming the child. Only one of the women opposed the barbarism. Exhibiting virtue, she put the well-being of another over her personal wants.
These anti-science, anti-public health "me-firsters" would have had Solomon split the baby.
Julie Werner-Simon, Philadelphia
To the editor: I wish to correct the headline of this op-ed article, which reads: "Americans used to respect public health. Then came COVID-19."
The headline should say this: "Americans used to respect public health. Then came Donald Trump."
John Humble, Santa Monica
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.