We may be witnessing the birth of a movement that could be the most important result of the COVID-19 nightmare: the anti-lockdown protests sweeping the country.
Per our usual agreement, the media is totally getting it wrong. It’s not about being able to go to restaurants or movies or even only about going back to work. It’s certainly not about a death cult or not taking the virus seriously.
The protests are, at core, about people who want their rights back — rights that have been snatched in just a few weeks time. It’s driven by people who understand the threat of tyrannical government, and that threat is very, very real. It’s happening right in front of our eyes.
Probably the best face of Orwell’s dystopian 1984 is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Although the Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is a close second. Mayor de Blasio is calling on residents to report their neighbors to law enforcement for violations of social distancing protocols. And it’s made super easy. Yay! How do you narc out your neighbors who don’t obey government edicts? “It’s simple: just snap a photo and text it to 311-692.” de Blasio said. “We will make sure that enforcement comes right away.”
Wow, wow, wow. Please read 1984. This is *exactly* what Big Brother teaches neighbors and children to do. Everyone is a snitch. People live in terror. In 1984, they disappear if they don’t follow the government line. We’re not there yet. But this is an astonishing step in the Big Brother direction.
Here’s where we are in different places in the country. Governments dumping tons of sand into the skate parks to keep them from being used. Cops patrolling streets with bullhorns to warn people to stay away from each other. Government threatening to turn off the power to your business if you do not close like you’re told. New “laws” that you may not drive from your house, in your car, to another property you own, even if you never leave your car. You may not go to drive-in church services, again even if you never leave your car. You may not go fishing. You may not assemble together in any way. You will be forcefully pulled off a bus without a face mask. Anti-quarantine protests being organized through Facebook in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska, are being removed from the platform on the orders of governments because they violate stay-at-home orders.
These are constitutional affronts of a level not seen since FDR rounded up Japanese-Americans and placed them in internment camps during WWII. Too many Americans have become complacent in our comforts about ceding individual rights to government. Save us! they demand. Take whatever rights you need! Of course if we will not fight for our freedoms, we won’t have them and we won’t deserve them.
So it is heartening to see the respectful, often social-distancing movement of protests across the country, in Seattle, San Diego, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina. These protesters are peaceful and organic, popping up big and small. And while they are demanding the economy be opened back up, they are also demanding that their rights be returned, First Amendment rights such as freedom of religion and freedom of assembly.
The Tea Party was launched over the financial recklessness of the federal government in responses to the financial crisis of 2008. It was at core a fiscal movement, though it broadened some. The fiscal recklessness today is many times larger. But worse are the overall trampling of rights — which is what makes this potential movement so important.
The truth is that a ton of voluntary social distancing and closing was happening long before jackboots like de Blasio decided to crush our rights. Much of the government’s totalitarian response has been unnecessary. And as the virus crests and starts declining, the heavy-handedness is getting worse in areas — such as New York City.
Americans largely don’t need to be told what to do, despite years of schools and colleges teaching us what to think instead of how to think. Common sense still pervades the land. But we need the spine to stand up to an overbearing government.
The anti-lockdown protests are doing just that.
Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.