Op-Ed: COVID Pandemic Giving Americans a Taste of Authoritarianism


You like East Germany in 2020?

Bernie Sanders has left the presidential political stage, so we may never get to see his cranky blend of Soviet, Venezuelan and Vermonter statism up close. But we may have found the next best thing.

The coronavirus pandemic is a real threat. COVID-19 has become the leading cause of death in the United States. I’m not and won’t minimize any of that.

But no one should minimize the lengths governments are now going to in the name of keeping us safe. We’ve had pandemics before. They didn’t result in the strong-arm Big Brother government we are subjected to now. Welcome to your free 60-day trial of authoritarian government. You have been compelled.

Some states have decided what you can buy, and what stores like Costco, Walmart and Target can sell.

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Elizabeth, New Jersey, is deploying its own miniature air force to make sure its residents stay the appropriate social distance apart.

Five drones equipped with loudspeakers now shout at people to stay the hell away from each other. You can be fined up to $1000 if you don’t do what the drone orders you to do, so never forget to obey your drones.

In Brighton, Colorado, police arrested a man in a local park. His crime? He went to the park near his house to play ball with his daughter. In the days of lockdown, that earned him a humiliating handcuffing in front of his own kid. The police later apologized, but the psychological damage was done.

In Florida, police arrested a pastor for holding church services. In Mississippi, police fined people $500 for attending a drive-in service. A Boston suburb is making people go one-way on a city sidewalk — and threatening fines if pedestrians fail to comply.

Are you concerned that the government is using the coronavirus pandemic to curtail our liberties?

Frisco, Texas, announced it was updating its city smartphone app to make it easier for people to snitch on their neighbors for not properly distancing themselves from others.

Salt Lake City set up a phone hotline for social distance snitches. Philadelphia cops put their hands all over a man and dragged him off a bus because he wasn’t wearing a face mask. Kentucky’s Democratic governor said those who attended Easter services will have their license plates recorded so they can be hunted down and put in mandatory quarantine.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened to impose “martial law” back in March. He hasn’t done that, but he did declare California a “nation-state” the other day, making it sound like he’s one step away from donning a hat and a military uniform with a chestful of medals like Kim Jong Un or Muammar Gaddafi.

At the national level, President Trump has led the federal response and wisely left much of the response up to the states. But that hasn’t stopped Dr. Anthony Fauci, his lead epidemiologist, from musing that the days of shaking hands are over.

Dr. Fauci has also suggested that America will transform into a “papers, please” nation in which we will have to carry proof of coronavirus antibodies in our blood. An “immunity passport” may become something you have to carry around in order to leave your home and live your life. You excited yet?

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“It’s one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure that we know who the vulnerable people are and not,” Fauci said in an interview. “This is something that’s being discussed. I think it might actually have some merit, under certain circumstances.”

So if you don’t have proof that you’re immune, you have to stay in lockdown forever? Will a drone follow you home and report you to the Social Distance Enforcement Division of the State Police?

Will the government use our cell phone location data to track us, just in case we get the virus? Do you have to expose yourself to the virus so you can go back to work? Is this where the Chinese virus is taking us?

If so, then the Chinese virus is making us all Chinese in our politics.

Mao and his band of communist thugs won China’s civil war against the nationalists, led by Chiang Kai Shek, in 1949 and exiled freedom and liberty to the small island of Taiwan. In the decades since, the communists have locked mainland China down under ever more draconian restrictions on its citizens’ personal freedoms.

They’re using social media and CCTV cameras to track their citizens — and were doing that long before the pandemic sprung up out of Wuhan. They have banned Christian churches and used secret police to smoke out and imprison dissidents. When the virus popped up, the communists lied about it, and people and millions of jobs died.

Bernie and his bros loved the Soviets and are sympatico with China. They like a big, strong government telling everyone what to do.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was once caught fantasizing what it would be like if the United States became “China for a day.”

Now we know! Here in the land of the free, we’re imposing curfews, shutting down churches, declaring businesses “essential” or “nonessential” and closing them down without a lot of rhyme or reason, putting millions out of work — and then forcing them onto the government dole.

And authorities are turning friends and neighbors into snitches and informants. Is there a badge for joining the Social Distance Secret Police? Do you get to jump to the front of the line to get your Immunity Passport?

It’s possible to be worried about the threat of the virus, because it’s real, and at the same time be worried about the threat of a government flexing its muscles to keep its boot on our necks.

This 60-day trial of Super-Empowered Massive Government had better not last forever. It’s shockingly obvious that too many of our mayors, police chiefs, county commissioners and governors really want it to.

If you want to truly be free, take a moment to act like Socrates and don’t let ten minutes go by without questioning someone or something.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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A.J. Rice is the author of the book "The Woking Dead: How Society’s Vogue Virus Destroys Our Culture." He serves as CEO of Publius PR, a premier communications firm in Washington, D.C.