Great America

Freedom in the Face of the Plague

Going outside, meeting with those we love, and gathering to worship God may come at a cost. The decision to shut down large swaths of our public life by fiat definitely does.

Live free or die!” So cries a noble people in the face of danger. Our forefathers, who prevailed in the War of Independence, were such men. They faced danger with courage and resolute firmness.

Our modern leaders do not.

Instead, they cower. Out of fear, state governors across America dictated draconian shutdowns in response to the spread of the Chinese coronavirus. These acts are contrary to our way of life; we must repeal them.

The preservation of life must include the preservation of liberty. The cure must not inflict more damage than the disease.

I do not deny that the coronavirus poses a serious public health threat. Many thousands have died, and there is much our regime could and should do to confront this scourge.

The federal government could ban the arrival of infected foreigners. State and local officials could provide food and medicine to those who choose to self-quarantine. They could also facilitate the production of medical and protective equipment on American soil.

Each of these measures would mitigate the spread of disease. None of them violates the right of citizens to work, assemble, and worship.

But we didn’t choose those solutions. Instead, state and local leaders turned our country into an open-air prison camp.

In Florida, police arrested a pastor for conducting Sunday services. In New Jersey, officials arrested a couple for hosting a wedding. In Rhode Island, the governor dispatched the police and National Guard to go door to door ordering out of state travelers—sick and healthy alike—into quarantine.

In an especially egregious act, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a blanket order stating that, with little exception, “all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household are prohibited.”

Even the prisoners in Stalin’s gulags had the right to sit and converse in each others’ presence.

Even worse, these draconian mandates result not from legislation but from executive fiat. State governors cast aside the normal political process in the face of 8,000 deaths in one month. To put this in perspective, 7,600 Americans die from other causes . . . every day.

Hurricanes, tornados, heart disease, floods, suicide, cancer, drug overdoses, and car accidents together kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. As deadly as these things are, they are not potent enough to destroy our existence as a people. The Chinese coronavirus should not be different! As bad as the worst fearmongers make it out to be, it does not constitute an existential threat to our way of life by itself.

The same cannot be said of these totalitarian lockdowns.

How can we preserve our liberty when our rights disappear at the first sign of crisis?

Having tasted the power this state of emergency gives them, our leaders will invoke such excuses again. The precedent now exists that in times of trouble we must suspend all of our democratic and republican norms. Human activity itself—friendship, love, and worship—must also effectively cease.

Next Sunday is Easter, the holiest day on the Christian calendar. Tens of millions of Christians cannot attend services by law. Even the Soviet Union at the height of its power could not have stripped Americans of this right. And yet our own governments have done so without just cause.

A free people cannot accept this!

Mine is not an argument for government inaction, callous disregard for the elderly, or insipid worship of money-making. Instead, I embrace the right of the people to face this crisis on their own terms.

Going outside, meeting with those we love, and gathering to worship God may come at a cost. The decision to shut down large swaths of our public life by fiat definitely does.

As for myself, I will honor the spirit of my forefathers. I choose freedom—even in the face of coronavirus.