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FILE – This Wednesday, April 1, 2020 file photo from a live stream video provided by the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti shows Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti wearing a protective face mask during his daily coronavirus news conference in Los Angeles. Garcetti is currently conducting all briefings and interviews remotely. On Monday, April 6, 2020 Garcetti discussed the COVID-19 outbreak in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. Garcetti is encouraged by a slowing rate of corornavirus infections but the city is preparing for potentially tougher restrictions if the numbers take a turn for the worse. (Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti via AP, File)

When I was in college, one of the landmark psychological experiments with which everyone was familiar was the so-called Stanford Prison Experiment. In this experiment, students were divided into ‘guards’ and ‘prisoners’ and the study claimed to find that the students chosen to be ‘guards’ quickly embraced authoritarian, even sadistic, behavior towards the ‘prisoners.’ There has been a lot of discussion on this over the years and attempts to discredit it, but, I think, whatever its methodological shortcomings, that exercise was prescient in regards to the Wuhan virus panic.

Like many of you, I’m on several email lists that involve people with some common interest. One of these lists is run by a long-time acquaintance and contains both liberals and conservatives but which is supposed to be united behind a handful of principles, like respect for the Constitution, civil liberties, and a general agreement on American exceptionalism. The list has sort of fractured over Trump with some of the people showing themselves capable of believing and internalizing any and all of the Russia Hoax stories but generally there is broad common ground on what America is. I was stunned over the past couple of days to find many members of the list, including some who had given a damned good imitation of being libertarians, give full-throated support to using the coercive power of the state to enforce the wearing of face-masks. More to the point, they were highly supportive of fining people from $300 (some place in MA) to over $1,000 (TX) at a time of unemployment that we have not seen since the Great Depression and when, before the shutdown, the average family had about $400 in money available to cover emergencies for not engaging in virtue signaling.

Let me digress here for a moment. If you want to wear a face mask, please feel free to do so. I don’t care. But don’t tell me that they do jack-sh** to protect you from any viral infection and don’t tell me that I must wear one. The same folks that backed homosexual marriage and transgenderism because we mustn’t stigmatize people engaged in such activities were, I found, perfectly happy to stigmatize anyone who did not want to go along with their fantasy that wearing face masks was responsible for controlling the spread of Wuhan. One of the reasons, oddly enough, was that we owed our fellow citizens who deeply believed in the magical power of face masks the courtesy of making them feel comfortable. As a friend of mine, a former Armor officer, is fond of saying, “why is your inconvenience more important than my inconvenience?”

With that as a back drop, let’s examine some happenings in the recent weeks. A father was arrested and handcuffed for playing on a deserted playground in Colorado. In Idaho, a mother was taken away in handcuffs for having her young daughter outside on the playground.

There is this classic:

In New Jersey and New York, police have been set upon Jewish funerals, funerals, for failing to adhere to ‘social distancing’ absent any evidence that anyone in the crowd was ill. Easter services were calculatedly shut down in SC, KY, and KS, that is the same standards that applied to liquor stores were not extended to churches on Easter Sunday. Today, we were treated to this gem from Calumet County, WI:

What does all of this have in common?

Our freedoms are in a very fragile state. When you look at the actions of our police departments and of many of our fellow citizens it is very easy to see how extermination camps happen. An extraordinary number of Americans are ready and willing, some gleefully so, to bring down the force of the state on fellow citizens who are no danger to them and who are minding their own business. Police departments are perfectly willing to treat nonthreatening and law abiding citizens as though they were hardened criminals.

There are several lessons we should take away from this experience.

First, like a wild beast that has tasted human blood, government has found the magic potion to rid itself of the US Constitution. That potion is a ‘public health crisis.’ If you think this is not going to be reenacted at state and local level in the future, you really need to wake up. No one any longer needs any threat of riot or mayhem or insurrection to confine you to your home and decide what products you may buy and what activities you may engage in. All they need is a freakin virus that is mere nanometers (that would be tiny enough to pass through any mask not attached to a breathing apparatus) in diameter. That’s it.

Secondly, most of your neighbors will go along because, unfortunately, going along with those in power is something they have been bred to do. If you get arrested for buying tomatoes or doing yardwork during a ‘shelter in place’ order, they will shake their heads and opine that all you had to do to avoid trouble was just do what the nice guys with guns told you to do.

Third, your neighbors will not leave you alone. Just like with the assaults on Judeo-Christian morality, you will be made to care about whatever ‘public health crisis’ is the panic du jour. In short, we are about to experience rule by busybodies from the homeowner’s association.

Fourth, it is increasingly clear that law enforcement agencies will do exactly what they are told to do. Any thoughts that you may have had of Officer O’Malley being a closeted libertarian are sorely misguided. Police forces will lock you up for playing with your kids outside. They will roust near-centenarians out of their beach chairs. They will shut down your business. They will tell you, on camera, that assembly (that’s one of those thingies specifically mentioned in the First Amendment) is illegal because some yahoo who has declared a ‘pubic health emergency’ does not wish to be criticized and you may very well be arrested for the act of protesting. The next time any police association comes asking for donations, reflect upon how they acted during a period of blatantly un-Constitutional rule-by-decree-because-of-a-virus and respond accordingly. And when they respond that they were only following orders, you can remind them that we hanged about 3,000 Germans and Japanese who used that excuse.

When you look at what has happened to the black-letter liberties we thought we enjoyed a few months ago, like having a party at your house, or buying a child passenger safety seat, or going to a funeral, it is pretty clear that the numerous forces who oppose free people as a matter of principle have been successful in largely making those liberties not only illegal but getting a large number of Americans and most law enforcement agencies to go along with the proposition.

So the next time you see that gate with the Arbeit Macht Frei sign over it, don’t shake your head and wonder about how it happened. Just think back to March and April of 2020 and you will know.

 

 

 

streiff
Managing Editor at RedState
Former infantry officer, CGSC grad and Army Operations Center alumnus.
RedState member since 2004.
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