A Plague of Monsters

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.  — Friedrich Nietzsche

Criminal terrorists attacked us on 9/11, and nations of the world united to treat us all like criminals and turn the fun and exciting world of air travel into an experience redolent of herding livestock to market.

Nineteen years later, a virus outbreak happens, and governments of the world — upon advice of the experts — treat us like infected patients, demanding we quarantine ourselves and cease all economic and social activities.  Is this the first time democratic governments have quarantined people who were not sick? 

COVID-19 is serious, highly transmissible, and lethal to a minuscule number of people, and we are past the point of being able to contain and eliminate it.  Cowering in our homes, eschewing human contact, and wearing masks is not about saving lives; it is delaying deaths — or, if you prefer the sterile words of the experts, flattening the curve

We're seeing how the shadow of totalitarianism can darken even the sunniest landscape: paternalistic governors issue decrees and edicts to their benighted subjects, unelected bureaucrats handle enforcement, and millions of miserable human beings discover the giddy frisson of snitching on neighbors.

Autocrats don't rely on bootheels and rifle butts alone.  They absolutely cannot survive without press propagandists, spying rat finks, and leagues of toadies throughout society parroting the propaganda and cajoling fellow subjects into compliance.

The Infotainment Media Complex abets the tyranny by censoring dissent and force-feeding us morality tales about some dumb bubba who scoffed at the experts but ended up killing his family with COVID-19.  Is anyone else tired of the crowds of liberal arts majors and J School grads shouting "SCIENCE!" like a twisted Thomas Dolby tribute choir?

Joyless scolds and miserable sadomasochists rat out neighbors and gleefully recite dour pronouncements of the new normal: dining, dating, and sporting events will never be the same; bars and churches may not open for years; L-shaped and K-shaped recoveries...

Ordinary citizens spread pernicious fallacies: "We can beat this thing!"  But nothing tops this blame-shaming question:  whom are you willing to kill so that you can go outside?

The premise is absurd.  Walking my dog on the beach doesn't kill anyone.  If going outside is murder, all those voluntary shut-ins are abetting homicide-by-delivery if they are getting food, groceries, or other products fetched to their doors.  By not demanding that the entire economy be shut down and every last person ordered to stay home, the self-quarantine scolds are conceding that there is an acceptable number of deaths.

We need wise leadership, but instead we get snotty questions from lawmakers, like this one from Senator Sherrod Brown: "How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP or the DOW by 1,000 points?"

Great question, Senator!  How many farm workers, meat-packers, and truck-drivers must be injured or killed so Senator Brown can stroll to the grocery store instead of butchering his own hogs and growing his own vegetables?

Do politicians infesting this land understand governments are funded by economic activity?  We need a better response from our governments than a tyranny of scientists throwing everyone out of work.  Dr. Scott W. Atlas explains:

Basic science underlying a viral pandemic is absolutely critical.  But now is the time for the design of sound public policy — and that involves a far broader formulation than a single-minded focus on stopping COVID-19 at all costs.

Despite the platoon of Nurse Ratcheds threatening to take away the dayroom TV if we don't shut up and comply, this is about mitigation, not elimination.  Life brings no guarantees.  Every human activity has a fatality rate, and a responsible society works to minimize death and injury.  Zero traffic deaths is a laudable goal but not economically feasible.  No one in the U.S. bats an eye at 35,000 to 60,000 influenza deaths each year.

I am proud of my fellow Americans who have pushed back on the ignorance, hysteria, and petty tyranny.  Here are three things we can do to defeat the New Normal:

1. Do what our mothers taught us.  Be charitable, logical, and factual when disagreeing. Be polite and respect the personal space of others.  Use a hanky when you cough or sneeze.  Wash your hands, and stop touching everything!  If you are sick, stay home.  Eat right, get some fresh air and sunshine, do some exercise and stay healthy.  In an unknown sea of fear and confusion, your own health is the most important thing you can control.

2.  Demand an end to censorship of what we write and read.  Global corporations own the online public square.  Social media platforms are de facto public accommodations, and the U.S. government should codify that status into law to end their execrable censorship of dissenting opinion.

3. Demand government competence.  Carp all you want about President Trump and how he should have done more, but we have multi-billion-dollar standing bureaucracies at the federal, state, and local levels charged with foreseeing, preparing, preventing, and dealing with all kinds of crises, including health emergencies and pandemics, regardless of who the president is.  I expect more from them than excuse-making, Bush-era high school science fair experiments, and attempts to emulate the Chinese model.

The Infotainment Media Complex, governments across the land, and millions of hysterical citizens have fanned the flames of fear and panic far beyond all bounds of rationality, but this too shall pass.  What will this hysteria leave in its wake?

Kurt Silverfiddle is a happy family man, veteran, wage slave, and occasional blogger at Semper Vigilans.

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