It seems as if almost hourly that the National Forest Service or county or city of Asheville deems it necessary to close down yet another walkway or trail to further enforce state and local stay-at-home directives. The latest round involves some very minor or previously little-used trails in our area.
Has any thought been given to the potential political cost of these closures? Our Asheville zeitgeist seems to be dominated by comfortable retirees safely ensconced in some version of spacious Town Mountain sanctuaries, a group rather well known for New Age risk aversion. The younger demographic, sharing living spaces and paying high rents with low service-industry wages, are not quite so comfortable. Overnight, many of them lost jobs. With the best weather of the year upon us, they at least had the option of enjoying open spaces safely.
The latest trail closings seem a bit excessive. Perhaps those who don’t get out much envision hikers and bikers swarming into group hugs or the like? I was in the Bent Creek area a week ago, and all the folks there were social distancing. No problem.
As this extreme level of constraint continues, week after week, a backlash is brewing. Witness the demonstrations in Lansing, Mich., and Columbus, Ohio. Those who are politically hard-of-hearing apparently are not picking up on the dog whistles emanating from the hopefully temporary occupant of the White House. The message: “Young swing voters, I got your back. I’m trying to open things up for you. If the Snowflakes keep it shut, at least know I tried and remember, come November, I’m your guy.” Scary.
We often hear, especially in hypochondriac Asheville, that, “You can’t be too careful.” Well, maybe you can?
— Larry Abbott