The responses of public officials and the American public to the COVID-19 pandemic have been highly instructive. Here are just a few of the things we have learned.
No matter how many times the government has lied to them before, most people will believe its next tale.
Remember these whoppers?
“What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” — Secretary of State Colin Powell, telling the United Nations Security Council about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, 2003
“If you like your doctor, you’ll be able to keep your doctor; if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.” — President Barack Obama, 2009
The list is endless. Yet when the government tells people that we must all be placed under virtual house arrest lest COVID-19 decimate the population, millions of Americans buy it — even though the government has admitted inflating the statistics to make the pandemic appear worse than it actually is.
Most politicians are dictators at heart.
Consider how quickly elected officials from governors to mayors jumped at the chance to bark orders at the people they supposedly serve. In no time flat and without the slightest constitutional or legal justification for it, they unilaterally created new laws and suspended existing ones, criminalizing such heretofore legal activities as surfing, playing basketball, taking your children to the playground, opening your business to willing customers, and even going to church. Meanwhile, like the good dictators that they are, they felt free to violate their own rules and to arrest and threaten those who protested their tyrannical actions — or simply to ban protests altogether.
Cops and soldiers are no friends of freedom.
Contrary to the myth that the police and the military are the guarantors of our liberty, they are the ones who have been enforcing the unconstitutional dictates of our mini-Mussolinis. Aside from some isolated sheriffs who have pledged not to enforce certain orders, most police departments have happily cracked down on shelter-in-place flouters. In Rhode Island, the National Guard, along with the police, has been used to illegally search houses for visiting New Yorkers to force them into quarantine. There is also a secret military task force preparing to secure Washington, D.C., which Newsweek notes “contradicts” Pentagon “assurances” that “men and women in uniform are not conducting secret missions and that they will not administer or enforce ‘stay at home’ quarantines.” If the cops and the military were really guardians of our freedom, they would be storming nearly every governor’s mansion in the country and forcing those tinpot tyrants to rescind their unconstitutional edicts.
Politicians are only concerned about the immediate consequences of their actions.
Fearful of headlines about COVID-19 deaths and jammed hospital emergency rooms, politicians have locked down their jurisdictions, claiming that everything else comes second to “saving lives.” They have not, however, considered that their edicts may cause more suffering than the virus ever could. The destruction of businesses and livelihoods — the U.S. unemployment rate may now be worse than it was during the depths of the Great Depression, and some of those jobs will never return — is already causing more suicidal thoughts (if not actual suicides), domestic violence, and other societal ills. The fear of going to the hospital is inducing people with serious conditions not to seek medical care, leading to unnecessary deaths at home. Cancer treatments, deemed “nonessential” by the same people who think abortion clinics must remain open, are on hold, which will surely result in additional corpses down the line.
The Left cares nothing about civil liberties.
For all their talk about civil liberties, leftists have been remarkably quiet when it comes to the violations of said liberties by the various COVID-19 orders spewed by officials throughout the land. The American Civil Liberties Union is touting its efforts not to roll back these egregious constitutional violations for the population as a whole but “to protect voting rights, demand that vulnerable people in prisons, jails and immigration detention centers be released, and fight to ensure reproductive health care remains open and accessible to all who need it.” Indeed, the Left’s only serious complaint in all of this is that President Donald Trump, the man they spent four years telling us was acting like a fascist dictator, hasn’t been dictatorial enough in his response to the virus.
Converting a relatively free, democratic country into a totalitarian state is a snap: Just add fear.
“Crisis is the path to happiness. Decay and disintegration do not spell doom, but ascent and beginning. The powerful forces of a new creation operate in the hush beyond the noise of the day.” — Joseph Goebbels
Told that over two million Americans would die from COVID-19, people panicked and demanded that government “do something.” Politicians, only too happy to oblige, began ordering people to stay home and “nonessential” businesses to close. Frightened individuals and institutions — even churches in states where they hadn’t been ordered to close — knuckled under almost immediately. Hashtags like #stayhomesavelives and advertisements proclaiming “We’re in this together” became ubiquitous. The propaganda was so successful that anyone seeking a return to the ancient way of life (i.e., the relative freedom we enjoyed in early March) was tagged as “selfish” because, as Adolf Hitler put it, “the position of the individual is conditioned solely by the interest of the nation as a whole.” Encouraged by politicians, people eagerly began reporting their neighbors to the police for violating COVID-19 orders. One teenager was even allegedly murdered by his own stepfather for refusing to abide by his state’s shelter-in-place dictate. How little it would take for a public thus conditioned to embrace a fully totalitarian state!
The changes brought about in our society in such rapid succession over a disease that now appears to be hardly more dangerous than the seasonal flu have shown just how fragile America’s experiment with liberty really is. Will “saving lives” end up killing freedom?