On Memorial Day, we honor those who died in service to this country, presumably with a primary goal of protecting the freedom which once made the United States of America unique. This year, it is instructive to take a look at how those hard-earned freedoms fared when faced with the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, The New York Times used Memorial Day to treat the 100,000 — the number is now officially over 600,000 — who had already died as if their deaths were somehow analogous to those who were killed in combat. Ironically, as the news media suddenly does a dramatic turn on the previously dismissed theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese lab, there may now actually be some credibility to looking at the death toll somewhat in that manner, but they have been completely uninterested in the subject of what this war against the virus has done to our basic freedoms.
As a philosophical libertarian, it has been shocking and horrifying to see just how easily and entirely, our government, enabled by the news media at nearly every turn, has been able to “suspend” much of our liberty, with almost no pushback from the general public.
In the name of safety, we have seen various government entities, often via edicts from unelected health officers, determine which businesses can by open and how they can operate, our right to freely assemble and associate (unless the gathering is favoring an approved “woke” political cause) obliterated, our schools closed for over a year, and nearly universal forced mask usage — even outside — with real penalties for noncompliance.
We Are Trained To Blindly Believe the “Experts”
In a panic, everyone desperately wants to believe that someone actually knows what the hell is going on. Most of us, thankfully, believe in the power of science, and, ironically, because most of us are horrible at basic math, this was a circumstance perfectly designed for lots of people to hand over all critical thinking to the “experts.” Since the news media was only allowing “experts” with one view to have a voice, it shouldn’t be a surprise that much of the public was convinced that this emergency warranted the interminable suspension of our basic rights.
The “If It Only Saves One Life…” Doctrine
For decades, conservative commentators have warned about the dangers of this premise, and it turned out we were more correct than we ever could have imagined. The basic principle of the entire pandemic response has been that collateral damage — even to a generation of children robbed of over a year of their lives — is irrelevant as long as there is the intent of “saving” at least a relatively small number of lives in the short run, even if there is little evidence that even that goal is actually achieved.
We Trusted That This Was Temporary
The most shocking development of the pandemic has been that what we were told would be “15 days to slow the spread/flatten the curve” turned into at least 15 months in most of the country, and there has been almost no legitimate blowback for that dastardly lie. I would LOVE to see a scientific poll which calculated the perceptions of our pandemic response among those who have read George Orwell’s iconic 1984, and those who have not. I would bet my house that the results would be profound.
We Became Invested In the Value of Our Sacrifice
It is a truism of life that it is far easier to dupe someone than to convince them that they have been duped. Counter-intuitively, this phenomenon is exaggerated when the person in question has been forced make great sacrifices due to being misled because they so badly want to believe this cost was not in vain.
Many in Power Have Benefited from This
When you think about the expansive coalition which has greatly benefited from the pandemic it is far easier to understand when there is no great political uprising against the damage we have done to our country’s essence. Business leaders and those with money in the stock and real estate markets have significantly profited, the news media has gotten plenty of drama, ratings and content, Democrats have won an election and effectively transformed the United States into a socialist country, many teachers just got fully paid for 15 months, during which they rarely worked full-time, parents who can work from home have been able to spend more time with their kids, people who love to live in fear, or envy those who used have better lives than they do, have never been happier.