Indignation contagion

By Steve Woodward

Masks are being worn by compliant citizens in our community at an ever increasing rate. Some motorists are even donning masks while driving. In their own vehicles. Without passengers.

masksThe upside to this rather odd habit is that said drivers are masking expressions of indignation, which has become a permanent facial condition for many. Even as the Wuhan Virus continues to disrupt daily life and destroy small businesses, a secondary illness has come to the fore — staggering numbers are foregoing personal freedom and unalienable rights in the name of “safety”. Stay safe. What does it mean? Nobody really knows. But it’s the right thing to say in “uncertain times”, apparently. A media driven narrative strikes again. Those who do not assume safety is a birthright have targets on our backs.

The presumption of safety and the delusion of certainty are woven more deeply into the fabric of the American culture than we knew, as demonstrated by the hysteria and tyranny-to-the-rescue solutions of recent weeks. The United States was not founded on either presumption. In fact, it could not have been founded by men paralyzed by fear. They viewed the world in quite opposite terms. Thomas Jefferson specified a preference for dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.

A tee shirt enshrining Jefferson’s words can be purchased via Amazon. Sadly, fewer Americans than ever seem inclined to wear one. It now appears certain that the weapons unleashed to battle the Wuhan Virus will remain intact long after virus hysteria has subsided. Democrat governors such as North Carolina’s Roy Cooper will feed on a permanent indignant class that embraces peaceful slavery in the name of safety.

Masks forever. Social distancing as a norm. No handshakes. No hugs. No salad bars. No buffets. Permanent requirements to register body temperatures of airline passengers and sports fans. No high fives, or low fives. No church communion. And these are merely the behavioral issues that some will want to impose, even absent edicts from Democrat lawmakers. Just because they know best.

The comfortably enslaved also will cheer for punishing lawsuits post-Wuhan aimed at everything imaginable, but especially products and companies that might have exposed innocent souls to the “deadly” virus. Also: higher hourly wages for employees of businesses that were bailed out (and falsely presumed to be awash with cash); or, permanent $600-a-week federal unemployment benefits for those who prefer to make a minimum of $15 per hour by staying at home. Which raises another one. Staying at home as a way of life? Just in case. No cozy cafes. No theaters. No street fairs. No cruise ships. No pilates classes. Heck, no classes, period.

A government large enough to give you everything we (think we) need, including absolute safety via rolling quarantines, is large enough to take everything we have, materially and ideologically, especially if we fail to stand up to it.

“The absolute worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic, and possibly its most unrecoverable damage, is the massive power that Americans have given to their federal, state and local governments to regulate our lives in the name of protecting our health,” writes syndicated columnist and George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams. “Taking back that power should be the most urgent component of our recovery efforts.”

Aided by hysterical throngs, Democrat governors Cooper, Andrew Cuomo (NY), Gavin Newsom (CA), Ralph Northam (VA) and Gretchen Whitmer (MI), to name some of the worst, are demonstrating they will be hesitant to relinquish the power they’ve claimed in recent weeks. In Michigan, a Republican-led legislature filed suit May 6 against Whitmer, seeking to force an end to orders that have closed down many nonessential businesses and largely confined residents to their homes. Whitmer is a power grabber.

In California, Newsom faces no such legal challenge. Knowing that, he moved the goalposts this week just as restrictions on citizens and the economy were about to ease. He declared nothing will be normal until such time as immunity to and a vaccine against the Wuhan Virus becomes reality. Newsom encouraged counties to override any easing of behavioral restrictions as they see fit. He has ceded martial law to the counties. Now that’s leadership.

Will Cooper be next? Friday, North Carolina enters “Phase One” of his plan to re-open the state’s economy. This will “allow” more retail activity for small businesses, but it keeps restaurants closed for at least two more weeks. Restaurant owners are pleading with Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly to help, but they have largely been met with silence. Lawmakers simply do not seem to have the will to take on the indignant class, which clearly has drawn people from both parties. They know best.

The reality is that freedom, too, is essential to health and welfare and is far more powerful than government responses to a pandemic. This was driven home by a letter in the Wall Street Journal by a Michigan reader. He quoted patriot John Locke: “This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it.”

World history largely has been defined by human suffering, plague and tyranny. The American experiment proves that this does not have to be. Those who will yield everything to government to achieve “safety” in the 21st century ignore this history. Draw the battle lines. Let’s get on with it.

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