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EDITORIAL: True display of public service

York Dispatch Editorial Board

Thumbs up to Red Lion resident Jerry Pilachowski for demonstrating what community-mindedness during a crisis looks like.

Pilachowski used the money from a bank-deferred mortgage payment to buy a few carloads of food and — voilà! — the Little Free Food Pantry was up, running and serving a very real community need.

“As we get deeper into this (pandemic), people have to get food,” he told the Dispatch’s Bill Kalina.

Dozens of people a day stop by the pantry — actually a tent attached to the back of Pilachowski’s SUV in front of his Cape Horn Road home. Those in need cart away groceries for free. Those who are able contribute to the cause by dropping off food or cash.

“The donors vary,” wrote Kalina, “from the local D&K Surplus Grocery to Tractor Supply Co. to the unemployed woman who emptied her purse of its $1.75 in change and offered it up.”

This is exactly the kind of neighbor-helping-neighbor initiative that will help all of us get through the challenges of the still-raging pandemic.

Thumbs down to the Michigan lawmaker who attended a session on the floor of the state Senate last week wearing a face mask that depicted the Confederate flag. 

State Sen. Dale Zorn at first denied the face covering presented the loathsome imagery, but photographs put the lie to that defense. He then blamed the mask’s manufacturer — his wife — before finally owning up and issuing an apology on Twitter.

By then, the damage had been done.

“As someone who has fought for civil rights his entire life,” said Michigan’s Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist on MSNBC, “as the first black lieutenant governor in the history of Michigan, as the first black person to preside over the Michigan state Senate, it was appalling and disgusting to see a Confederate flag chosen as the face mask by a sitting state senator.”

No better are the Confederate flags being flown at so-called “reopen-the-government” rallies in places like Michigan and Buffalo, New York.

The image of the Confederate flag has no place in current society outside of a museum. It is a symbol of bigotry, intolerance and domestic terrorism and should be reviled as such.

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Monday, April 20, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Thumbs up to the apparent decision to dial back the daily marathons that had become the White House coronavirus response team’s televised updates.

First and worst, very little updating was ever communicated during the sometimes two-plus-hour sessions. From the get-go, these gatherings — held in a briefing room that has not been visited by a White House press secretary in over a year — were chiefly exercises in presidential self-congratulations. 

President Donald Trump often hijacked the proceedings to brag about his self-proclaimed stellar response (invariably pointing to his largely toothless ban on travel form China) even as the rate of infections and fatalities spiraled ever higher.

Meanwhile, serious questions from the media were met with deflection and derision, and the actual experts were often left to walk back or even correct Trump’s misinformed statements on, for example, the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine.

The nadir came Thursday when Trump wondered aloud whether injections of disinfectant could be used to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Medical professionals nationwide raced to warn the public off any such experimentation.

Trump wrapped up Friday’s session in a record 22 minutes without taking questions, and the task force hasn’t held a public update since.

Sometimes less is more. That’s especially true of the president and his self-serving, substance-starved updates.