Everybody knows the story of King Canute, the 11th-century Viking king of England who raised his hand to stop the roll of the tide—and yet the tide rolled in anyway. The almost certainly apocryphal story has come down to us as an illustration of hubris: even the proud monarch couldn’t command the elements.
But that’s wrong. The real moral of the story is that the king commanded the tides to stop in order to show his courtiers that there are limits to man’s temporal authority, and that not even a monarch can command God or nature.
That’s the lesson President Donald Trump—not to mention a swath of senior Republicans as well as the nation itself—should be taking away from Trump’s brush with the CCP virus (commonly known as the novel coronavirus) over the weekend. And indeed, it seems that the president has: “Don’t let it dominate your life. This is America, this is the United States. … We have to confront problems.”
Leaving aside the amazing coincidence of why, in the immediate aftermath of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court and last week’s debate, so much of the GOP brain trust suddenly came down with the Chinese Communist Party virus—and, thus far, not a single Democrat—the president’s seemingly quick recovery from COVID-19 was just the reality check an increasingly buffaloed and fearful America needed.
The Democrats, it seems, have gone all-in on the novel coronavirus, the better to permanently destroy the economic gains of the administration and, worse, insisting—against much medical evidence—that the American people should be muzzled as a sign of their subordination to government at all levels. Indeed, after dodging the issue repeatedly, Joe Biden has issued a call for mandatory mask-wearing even outdoors, for “the next three months minimum.”
But there’s no meaningful evidence that wearing masks—even along with constant hand washing and “social distancing”—does much of anything to “defeat” a virus. Nor do destructive lockdowns that crush both spirit and body, devastate businesses, destroy livelihoods, and—in their arbitrariness and capriciousness—dishearten and discourage the maintenance and formation of new businesses.
Worst of all has been the damage done to our constitution, which explicitly protects freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the free exercise of religion. There is no constitutional exception for “pandemics”—and the Founding Fathers, as men of the 18th century, were certainly experienced with infectious diseases, among them cholera, tuberculosis, and yellow fever. In fact, a yellow fever swept through Philadelphia—then the nation’s capital—in 1793, just two years after the ratification of the Constitution.
Their reaction? They moved the capital to Washington, D.C., and went right on with building the country.
And yet here is the thuggish governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, this week threatening his state’s large Orthodox Jewish communities: “I will have to tell them, ‘If you are not willing to live with these rules, I will have to close the synagogues.’”
Doctors Running the Country
True, some doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mayo Clinic endorse the lockdowns, but then again, that’s what doctors do. Their job is to fight infectious diseases the best way they know how, without regard to economic or personal consequences.
The problem is, we have let doctors run our country—and many others—without ever asking ourselves if that was the right thing to do. By now, it’s evident that COVID-19 is not the bubonic plague. For everyone over 70, the survival rate after infection is around 95 percent, and the median age of those who died from or with COVID back in the spring was over 80, with severe comorbidities, many of them in nursing homes, from which they likely were going to die anyway.
Every death is a small tragedy for somebody, and believe me, I speak from experience on this. But death is the determined outcome of every life; what is important to the life of a nation, culture, or civilization is not the demise of an individual, but the fate of the body politic. The graveyards, as the saying goes, are filled with indispensable men, and yet somehow life has always gone on.
Until now. Until the COVID of 2019 turned into the Panic of 2020. But for today’s squeamish, feminized, “safety first” America, there seems shockingly little appetite for risk, much less any sense of duty, honor, country. Following the president’s lead, the proper reaction to COVID-19 is to live with but not give in to it.
As I’ve advocated from the start: get it, get over it, get on with it.
We were sold this panicked bill of goods by overzealous doctors, timorous politicians, and a virulently anti-Trump and anti-American media that is clearly willing to sacrifice the nation’s well-being to get rid of their bete noire, the president. Couple that with the unseemly pleasure some Democrats are taking in unleashing their inner tyrants in the guise of “protecting” the public, and you have the mess we’re currently in, less than a month before the election.
Finally, some patriots are fighting back. Just last week, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s draconian edicts banning just about every human activity were unconstitutional on the grounds that her orders were effectively a usurpation of the state’s legislature.
If we let the actions of Cuomo, Whitmer, California’s Gavin Newsom, and others stand, how can we possibly defend ourselves against the even greater strictures they will impose to fight another phantom menace, “climate change”? Because you know they will.
Time to man up. As I write in my forthcoming book, “Last Stands” (out Dec. 1 and available for preorder now): “Latter-day sensibility, and a loss of faith in traditional Western religions, has decreed that there is, literally, not a fate worse than death. We have, in our wisdom, transformed our short span of existence into a kind of living Purgatory, where life itself is misery and palliative surcease can only be found via drugs, sex, or therapy.
“Past and future have vanished, to be replaced by an eternally torturous present that can only be endured, and not transformed. Death becomes no one; if there is nothing worth living for, except for the sake of living, then what is worth dying for?”
Our reaction to the Wuhan virus provides a clue, and so far, it hasn’t spoken well of our national character. Like Canute, the president can’t raise his hand and forbid the Chinese virus from wreaking what havoc it has left. But if Trump can continue to speak out on this issue—to show his fellow Americans that they have, to quote FDR, nothing to fear but fear itself—he can well serve both his reelection chances and the country he leads.
Michael Walsh is the editor of The-Pipeline.org 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.