There’s a lot happening in the world today that is worrying for anyone who still holds the concepts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness near and dear. “Liberty vs. Vaccine Mandates in Europe; Public School Exodus; Race-Based School Discipline” deals with two of the biggest issues facing the United States today, namely the current threat of vaccine mandates and passports hanging over the populace and the many ways in which the public school system is failing students nationwide. This episode of The Nation Speaks offers the kind of in-depth reporting you aren’t going to find in the mainstream media (not even right-leaning networks) and is a must-see for anyone who wants a deeper dive into these issues than the three to five-minute interview limits of most televised news programs. It should also give the viewer reason to pause and consider what it really means to be a country where the people are free, equal, and united.
The first topic host Cindy Drukier addresses are the vaccine mandates and passport requirements currently spreading like wildfire across Europe, and it’s a fascinating, if frightening, look into what is happening to our allies across the pond. She speaks with Captain Alexandre Juving-Brunet, a French freedom activist; Sam Brokken, a Belgian former public health professor who lost his job for speaking his mind; and Alan Miller, founder of the UK’s #OpenForAll campaign. These three men break down the continuing authoritarian response to COVID-19 in their respective countries, how the public is reacting, and the common dangers all Westerners face in terms of censorship, polarization, ostracization, and trampling of privacy rights surrounding an individual’s vaccination status.
Juving-Brunet is the first interviewee, describing the marches for liberty and freedom happening across France in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s divisive speech in mid-July that made a clear separation between the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Juving-Brunet says the president’s declaration was nothing short of segregation that enraged the populace, which increasingly considers the government to be illegitimate and incapable of defending citizens’ constitutional rights. Thousands of citizens of all ages and political stripes took to the streets days after the speech to protest Macron’s attempts to use a person’s vaccination status as a wedge issue to separate the French into two camps.
Macron clearly underestimated his peoples’ commitment to their national motto—liberté, égalité, fraternité—thinking these concepts had gone out of vogue. It must have come as quite a shock to find that the citizens who elected him with the express understanding that he would keep their best interests at heart still care about liberty, equality, and fraternity. Juving-Brunet describes a “volatile” situation throughout France and sounds more than a little angry himself at his government’s attempts to divide and suppress its citizens while stripping away their freedoms. As well he should be.
Next up is Alan Miller discussing what has been happening in the UK, which should definitely serve as the canary in the coal mine for anyone who hasn’t paid attention to the latest developments in Australia. It only took a month for the UK government to go from vaccine passports being voluntary at certain locations and businesses to making them mandatory wherever large groups of people gather, such as nightclubs, restaurants, bars, and other events. Miller’s organization, Open For All, has a list of the venues, totaling over 1,000, that will now require vaccine passports for entrance. While there are many in the United States who think nothing of businesses beginning to demand proof of vaccination before a patron may enter, claiming that it will only be some sort of temporary measure until we’ve reached herd immunity, Miller states that 85 percent of the UK’s population already has been vaccinated, yet the government is still taking these extraordinary measures.
The UK had a slogan of “fifteen million jabs to freedom,” which has turned out about as well as “fifteen days to slow the spread.” There is also now a huge push to vaccinate children in the United Kingdom, despite hesitation among much of the population about the necessity of vaccinating children, who are at very low risk of catching and spreading COVID-19, and the potential dangers of doing so. Unlike the United States, where depending on your political persuasion you’re likely to think there’s nothing wrong with demanding someone provide their personal health information to the doorman to get into a club, polling data from The Sun showed that 93 percent of respondents were against the idea of vaccine passports. Basic math indicates that the majority of people who responded to this poll are vaccinated themselves. It seems the UK doesn’t like the idea of having to “show their papers” to get into a restaurant, and recognizes this as the blatant invasion of privacy that it is.
The final interview in this segment is with Sam Brokken of Belgium, who dared to speak out about the COVID-19 vaccine and lost his job for it. He laments the very different reaction to the idea of mandated vaccinations and vaccine passports in his country, where the populace seems to be rolling over and taking it without much fuss. Belgium has a smaller population than both France and the United Kingdom, making it much easier for the government to gain compliance. Belgium is likewise facing mandatory vaccinations and vaccine passports, but very few people are speaking out against it.
According to Brokken, this is pretty much par for the course in his country, where most people are willing to go along to get along without any pushback. Only about 10 percent of the population are speaking out against these mandates, and recently the government has begun to marginalize and vilify these dissenting voices. He says this is understandably frightening to anyone with a differing opinion, and as someone who was fired for going against the grain, he should know. When there are protests in Belgium against the idea of providing proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19, just a few hundred people show up. It’s a marked contrast to what is happening in the United Kingdom and France.
Having outlined the ways their home countries are reacting to passports and vaccine mandates, all three men talk about the growing censorship of free speech when it comes to these subjects. Brokken was fired for daring to suggest that getting the vaccine would not necessarily mean someone couldn’t transmit the virus. He was publicly ridiculed and shamed, pronounced an “anti-vaxxer,” and relieved of his position despite having ultimately been proven correct. Miller discusses a culture of censorship much like the United States is experiencing, where any deviation from the government narrative can get you banned, shunned, and even fired, regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum. This includes virologists and epidemiologists who have gone against the “correct” point of view, and big tech companies are being urged to be even more vigorous in their censorship of dissent. Juving-Brunet echoes the concerns of both Brokken and Miller, stating that all levels of governments and the courts have done nothing to protect the basic rights of French citizens concerning the issue of COVID-19. He has received thousands of messages from people across Europe in response to the French protests signaling their solidarity with the calls for liberty and freedom and their worries about the direction their own countries are taking. Juving-Brunet is adamant that France will never give up its freedom as the protests continue nationwide, which Brokken says is reflected in the French-speaking region of Belgium. Miller closes the segment with a well-deserved dressing-down of places like New York that are pushing the idea of vaccine passports as a requirement to enter businesses or even parks.
Liberty vs. Vaccine Mandates in Europe; Public School Exodus; Race-Based School Discipline | The Nation Speaks [Trailer]
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A quick Q&A on whether China should be allowed to host the Olympics breaks up the first segment and the second. It’s a man-on-the-street type interview asking ordinary people what they think about this topic given China’s historic and current human rights abuses. It’s nice to see the overwhelming majority of respondents don’t want to see the oppressive regime host the 2022 Olympics, though there is one gentleman that feels the United States has no leg to stand on given its own history of human rights abuses. He looks like the sort who has a degree in Women’s Studies, and it’s amusing to watch someone answer with patented left-wing talking points unironically. At least it’s just one guy.
The next main interview is with Tony Kinnett, a curriculum developer from Indianapolis who started the “Chalkboard Review,” a website that compiles articles from across the education spectrum to enlighten parents about what’s going on in K-12 education. Kinnett has been conducting a study in Indiana on the growth in private and parochial school enrollment as parents pull their children out of public schools at an ever-increasing rate. Many of these schools are seeing unprecedented enrollment and it’s happening so quickly they’ve needed to send letters to parents letting them know they can’t accept any more students.
Kinnett suspects this is happening for several reasons. There is, of course, the fact that COVID-19 lockdowns and school closings forced many students to attend class virtually, allowing parents to see for the first time what their children are being taught. Enrollment numbers in private and parochial schools have slowly been climbing over the last five to seven years, but things like critical race theory and gender identity are not what parents expect schools to be focusing on and have led to the mass exodus of the episode’s title.
Kinnett also believes there’s a growing need among families to return to a more traditional moral framework that has been increasingly abandoned in the last few decades. Parochial schools offer the opportunity for students to build character in addition to learning how to read, write, and do arithmetic, and they don’t focus on asking 7-year-olds which pronouns they prefer. Instead, they focus on teaching what pronouns are. His beliefs aren’t simply a matter of what his gut instincts tell him, either. He routinely speaks with parents on the reasons they’ve pulled their children from public schools, and they haven’t been shy about sharing with him exactly why they no longer trust the public school system with their children.
Wrapping up the interview, Drukier asks Kinnett about a host of other tangential issues, such as parents coordinating to replace school boards; which institutions are also conducting the same kind of research Kinnett is to give a broader view of what’s happening overall with public education; whether it’s only conservative parents who are putting their children in private and parochial schools; and if teachers are leaving as well. Overall, Kinnett provides a much more hopeful vision for the future of K-12 education than is often seen.
Those hopes are somewhat dashed by the final guest on the show, who discusses the Biden administration’s reinstatement of an Obama-era mandate setting racial quotas for student discipline. The time for public commentary on this policy has already closed with most parents likely unaware not only that they had a chance to comment, but that the policy even exists. Donna Jackson with Project 21 Black Leadership Initiative likens these quotas to “Defund the Police” for the classrooms before going on to lay out exactly why this initiative is not only ridiculous but will lead to teachers losing control of their classrooms. She’s a compelling speaker, to say the least.
Jackson forcefully and systematically dismantles the argument for doling out punishment based on skin color rather than behavior, starting with the study upon which the policy is based is fundamentally flawed. It looked only at the race of the children being punished in schools and not any other factors, such as gangs, fights, gun violence, and drugs in the community. She skewers the idea that deciding discipline policies based on race will in any way make education more equitable or enhance learning when it will actually turn classrooms into circuses that will actually diminish the ability of other students—well-behaved students—to learn. Jackson backs up every assertion she makes in opposition of the policy with facts and statistics, such as the breakdown of the black two-parent family. This results in schools often being the one area where students of color actually get any kind of structure. She then points out that this is a result of many other “well-meaning” liberal policies just like the racial quotas, and that keeping minorities in poverty is a very lucrative business. She also makes a direct link between this discipline policy and critical race theory, explaining how it will hurt literally every student in schools where the policy is implemented. Her analysis and arguments are fantastic and the episode should be shared far and wide for her commentary alone.
The hour closes with another man-on-the-street Q&A about the new law making its way through Congress that will require women to register for the draft. The views here are far more divergent than those on China hosting the Olympics, with a roughly equal split of people who think women should register for the draft versus those who think they shouldn’t. The reasons respondents give for their answer also vary quite a lot, and it’s interesting to see so many different opinions.
Overall this episode offers excellent insights into some of the hot button topics of the day in a way that is calm and rational. There is no shouting or name-calling to be found, making the information easy to absorb and easier to share. If you haven’t watched this episode yet, you should do so sooner rather than later, especially if you’re someone with children in school or you live in a state that will soon start asking, “Papers, please.”
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Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.