First, some random observations:
A devout priest I know, around age 50, was hospitalized for COVID-19. He received treatment and is now recovering.
On Tuesday, April 21, a mother in Meridian, Idaho was arrested for taking down police tape and signage forbidding entrance to a park playground and allowing her children to play on the equipment. After she refused to leave the playground, the police handcuffed her and took her to jail, from which she was released on bail. A small crowd protested her arrest.
Other protests have broken out across the United States this past week, with people calling for a reopening of their stores, businesses, and churches, and for a restoration of the Bill of Rights. Some Americans have applauded these demonstrators while others have hurled insults and threats at them.
On Fox News Tucker Carlson asked New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy about the arrests made in his state of 15 men at the funeral of a Jewish rabbi. “By what authority did you nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing this order?” he asked Murphy. “How do you have the power to do that?”
“That’s above my pay grade, Tucker,” Murphy replied. “I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations recently reported that worldwide shutdowns will likely lead to famine “of biblical proportions” in the world’s more impoverished countries.
Many Americans believe that we must soon have a reckoning with the Chinese Communist Party over the damage they have done both to our country and countries around the world. From the very beginning, they have lied about the coronavirus, destroyed data, and seemed indifferent to the plight of the rest of us. Let’s remember that it wasn’t the Chinese government that ordered flights from their country shut down, long after that government was aware of the epidemic. It was President Trump and other leaders who imposed that quarantine.
So yes, we do need a reckoning of some kind with a criminal government displaying such abominable behavior.
But we should also have a reckoning with our own government, particularly with the governors of some of our states.
With uncertainty as to what they were doing, many of these leaders shut down our schools, churches, and the economy. A few of them made recommendations instead of barking orders – practice social distancing, wear masks, avoid large crowds, stay at home if you are sick, elderly, or have underlying health issues. These governors chose to treat Americans as grownups rather than as toddlers, giving suggestions based upon science and data and letting Americans decide how to use that data wisely.
Other governors went a different direction, cranking out directives and orders, closing everything from schools and churches to coffee shops and hair salons, and ordering everyone to stay home. Some mayors and governors encouraged neighbors to snitch on neighbors for breaking the quarantine, and some had people arrested for violating their edicts. They destroyed a thriving economy to save lives, believing what they were doing was right.
But the truth is they didn’t really know what they were doing, they lacked – and still lack reliable data – and they treated the rest of us as robotic buffoons who should mindlessly do their bidding.
Now let’s go back to those random observations.
COVID-19 can be a killer. The priest I mentioned doesn’t smoke, exercises regularly, eats healthy meals, and compared to many others his age, is in tip-top shape. So yes, the Chinese virus is dangerous.
Was the mother arrested in the playground right or wrong? She was given the option to leave peaceably, but refused. Many might condemn her for taking such a stance, but on the other hand many state governments around the country seem to have gone bat-soup, regulation crazy. My daughter tells me that in Pennsylvania shoppers can’t enter a store without wearing some sort of facial covering. While some facemasks prevent the spread of disease, the bandanas worn by my daughter and others are next to useless. We can stroll through Walmart, but some governors have closed walking paths and beaches.
The UN report demonstrates our inability to see consequences when we act hastily. What if the closure of markets does lead to hundreds of thousands more deaths from privation than those caused by the Chinese Communist Party virus? Who is at fault for those poor dead people?
As for Murphy’s comment about the Bill of Rights, “That’s above my pay grade, Tucker,” think again, governor. The Bill of Rights isn’t above anyone’s pay grade. In fact, the First Amendment to the Constitution has nothing to do with pay grades. The rights included in that amendment are neither fictitious nor are they endowed on citizens by the government. They are the natural rights of all human beings. Let’s look once more at a single sentence that should be emblazoned in the minds of all Americans:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Got it, governor?
When this epidemic ends, it’s time to ask many of our elected officials and bureaucrats one simple question:
“Just who in the world do you think you are?”
[Image Credit: Flicker-Phil Murphy, CC BY 2.0]