America is sitting at over a month of quarantine, shelter-in-place orders, and a general economic shutdown. Ever since shutdowns were called for by health experts and enacted by politicians, an unspoken question has been: how long before the backlash starts?
The answer is that it’s happening now. Not on a large-scale and certainly not in all states. But it has begun.
Michigan’s governor Gretchen Whitmer chose to overreach when she extended her stay-home order through the end of April as well as adding to it. Restrictions include no traveling to vacation homes, no use of motor boats and that stores, or parts of stores, which are, “dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint,” must also close down. In reaction, over 300,000 Michigan citizens have joined the Facebook group Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine.
As this article is being written, thousands of Michiganders have launched Operation Gridlock as protest against Gov. Whitmer. This morning, thousands of cars have blocked the roads within the state capitol of Lansing. Video of the protest shows cars with placards declaring the governor’s actions to be an overreach, while their occupants are blaring their car horns. At the state capitol itself hundreds are gathered to protest in-person. The Facebook groups’ online posts have held that while some shutdown and isolation is necessary a new draconian lock down is harmful to a needless degree.
Gov. Whitmer is the most notorious of politicians who are indulging in either panic or petty tyrannies. Here are a few more.
Greenville, Miss. Mayor Errick Simmons has attempted to ban drive-in church services. One pastor claims the police said the Mayor wanted to make an example of his church.
In Greensboro, NC, citizens have been arrested for the apparent crime of praying outside of an abortion clinic. The local police department have not stated by walking on a sidewalk is permitted but praying on one is a violation of social distancing.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers attempted to ban all church services as a quarantine measure. He has been forced to retract this after First Amendment outcry.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb must take the palm for the nastiest piece of petty tyranny, he and Whitmer can share a podium. Holcomb issued orders for how churches are going to function. Including the number of attendees, how they may interact and even how to conduct Communion.
It is bad enough facing the loss of millions of jobs due to necessary shutdowns. The attempt to control religious activities and interactions deserves the most ferocious reaction our laws will allow.
At work, there are two issues. One is prudential and another is legal. The prudential concern is that at some point we must reopen our economy, national and local, otherwise the long-term impact of this will be worse than the disease itself. This requires a great deal of care and data and sadly the latter is lacking throughout the nation. We don’t know how bad it is or how bad it may get if we all start to go back to work. But soon we must go back otherwise we risk losing more than the lives of the vulnerable. We will be in danger of losing the lives of the healthy as well.
The other point is legal. We cannot allow our rights, natural and constitutional, to be trampled upon in the name of public safety. Safety, health, national security, reform, and patriotism have all been the last redoubt of tyrants and scoundrels. In the wake of 9/11 we allowed national security claims to trump countless things we’d been doing for decades. We cannot allow COVID-19 to alter the way we live or the rights in which we enjoy.
Americans are a people who can weather a great many things in a real crisis. We’ve weathered the suspension of habeas corpus, the near suspension of freedom of speech, and the internment of citizens. We should learn from these past errors and not allow new ones to be made.