Americans Need to Face Down a Politicized Panic

August 10, 2020 Updated: August 13, 2020


In retrospect, we can date the moment America began to slip her moorings as a federal republic dedicated to individual and national sovereignty and descend into arbitrary, politically correct coercion—for our “own good.”

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, perpetrated by a handful of Arab Muslims, most of them from Saudi Arabia, changed and continue to change the United States in ways no one could have expected at the time.

Although time has partially healed the memories, wounds, and destruction of that day, the damage the religiously inspired mayhem has wrought upon our nation and its values has been incalculable, and bids fair to get worse.

From the ashes left of the fiery inferno have come the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security, among other newfangled exemplars of big government, which fundamentally altered the relationship of the individual to the state, and have played havoc with our national self-image ever since.

In a stroke, some 330 million Americans were regarded by the TSA (an employer of last resort) as guilty of attempted hijacking until proven innocent by increasingly intrusive searches in plain violation of the Fourth Amendment, which reads, in part: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated … but upon probable cause.”

Given the rapidity with which an ovine public meekly accepted this enormity in the name of “safety,” it was simply a matter of time before further restrictions on personal freedom would be implemented.

Manufactured Panic

Which brings us to the increasingly irrational—and socially devastating—media-manufactured panic over the CCP virus. Whether the Chinese Communist Party virus was hatched in a lab, escaped from a boiling pangolin, or was simply a natural mutation of the SARS family at this point hardly matters. To hear the slavishly supine media tell it, the dreaded COVID-19 can fly through the air and into your eyes, ears, nose, throat, and other bodily cavities.

It can live forever in deserts and salt marshes alike and survive handily on steel surfaces. What’s worse, it’s racially discriminatory, killing blacks at a higher rate than whites. Every living person, including little children, you encounter is potentially an agent of death and needs to be shunned, screamed at and, when necessary, physically assaulted—for your own safety, of course.

The very air we breathe is a toxic miasma of furry, inflated red jacks that just can’t wait to attack a hapless human. In short, it’s the second coming of the Black Death, and that means infection equals death.

Except that it isn’t.

As Angelo Codevilla wrote recently at The American Mind: “What history will record as the great COVID scam of 2020 is based on 1) a set of untruths and baseless assertions—often outright lies—about the novel coronavirus and its effects; 2) the production and maintenance of physical fear through a near-monopoly of communications to forestall challenges to the U.S. ruling class; 3) defaulted opposition on the part of most Republicans. Panicked … the American people assented to being put essentially under house arrest until further notice, effectively suspending the habits, preferences, and liberties that had defined our way of life.”

As Codevilla and many others have made clear, the coronavirus threat is, in the historical scheme of things, minuscule. Those who’ve died have been overwhelmingly elderly—in the mid-80s—generally obese, and suffering from hypertension or other comorbidities that made them easy prey for the opportunistic virus.

A high percentage of them, especially in the northeast United States, were also residents of nursing homes, whence they were deliberately confined by such angels of mercy as New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo. The young, vital, and healthy have little or nothing to fear from the Wuhan flu.

Power Grab

What makes this bug unusual, however, is the deracinated and draconian overreaction—a power grab by governments at all levels, both here and abroad. What began back in March as “two weeks to flatten the curve” has since morphed into a zero-tolerance ukase that—in the manner of totalitarian power grabs everywhere—insists that the unreasonably perfect be the mortal enemy of the good.

In other words, the answer to the question every freedom-loving man or woman has been asking since this panic over a pandemic began—when will this end?—the answer is likely: never, unless we do something about it.

Governments have developed a taste for arbitrary tyranny now, and that’s not something they’re inclined to surrender without a fight. As Ben Franklin famously observed in 1755: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Nitpickers will note that Franklin’s letter involved a localized dispute about the Pennsylvania assembly’s taxing power and not—oddly enough!—about our present discussion of the proper balance between personal liberty and governmental authority. Nevertheless, his words are even more important today than when Franklin was worrying about the defense of Pennsylvania’s western frontier, which is why, in modified form, they appear on a plaque in the stairwell of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

It’s been pointed out for months now that by shutting down the world’s economies, COVID mania has saved relatively few lives—the examples of places as disparate as South Dakota and Sweden, where there were no lockdowns, testify to that—and instead has blithely condemned millions to joblessness, poverty, other illnesses, isolation, depression, suicide, and premature deaths.

Even worse, it has rent the social fabric, perhaps irrevocably, with its malignant prattle about the “new normal” of anti-social distancing, beekeeper face shields, and bank-robber masks. Walking around with our faces obscured used to be—and in most places still is—illegal, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the likes of Cuomo and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

With nothing visible but each other’s eyes, we can no longer see or judge facial expressions and therefore can’t immediately distinguish between friend or foe—as the soaring crime statistics in New York City and Chicago amply illustrate.

Absent nonverbal means of communication, it’s no wonder that social trust—difficult enough in an ethnically heterogeneous country like America—is breaking down. The result of that, as any “diverse” country can tell you, is the reinforcement of tribalism and the primacy of clan. This has nothing to do with race—just look at places like Iraq, Afghanistan, or Europe in the 20th century—and everything to do with family ties and the loss of faith in supposedly dispassionate institutions.

Just ask the thug cadres of Black Lives Matter and Antifa whether “social distancing” applies to them.

Targeting Rights

America has long believed in the principle of equal justice under the law. That she has not always observed that belief in actual practice is beside the point (although it’s the putative cause of the leftist riots currently wracking some of our major cities over events that occurred a century and a half ago).

But when the average American—you know, the one who believes in God, apple pie, and the flag—starts to feel the system’s been rigged, we are no longer the U.S.A. but the U.S.S.R, where the political nomenklatura and its favored apparatchiks indulge in arbitrary rule-making and discriminatory favoritism, entirely for their own benefit.

Like the virus itself, the politicization of COVID-19 has proven to be an opportunistic malefactor, except that in this case, its target is the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights. One by one, our first listed freedoms have come under attack, including freedom of speech (“cancel culture”), the free exercise of religion, freedom of assembly, and the right to be secure in our persons, among others. What’s next?

Like the flu, we will never be entirely rid of the Chinese Communist virus—although a day of reckoning is coming for the thugs in Beijing. But we can be rid of our politicians and their transparently inimical excuses for continuing to move the goalposts ever farther into the future in the name of “safety.”

That a nation and a civilization once renowned for its courage under fire, its valor, and its stone bravery should now cower like frightened children in the face of an invisible monster is a national disgrace. That the patriots among us should willingly submit to a constitutional death of a thousand cuts administered by petty bureaucrats and power-mad doctors from a corrupt and untrustworthy federal agency is even worse. That the provocation comes from China adds insult to injury.

And that it’s being wielded like a political cudgel against the current administration in order to negate the president’s record of regulatory reform, border control, a more equitable job market for minorities, and a booming economy that was the envy of the world until this spring is something voters shouldn’t forget this November.

The time for cowering is past. Get it, get over it, get on with it. Your country needs you.

Michael Walsh is the editor of and the author of “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace” and “The Fiery Angel,” both published by Encounter Books. His latest book, “Last Stands,” a cultural study of military history from the Greeks to the Korean War, will be published in December by St. Martin’s Press.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.