A False Sense of Safety

In an email exchange this morning about the stark contrasts between red and blue states in their regulatory responses to Covid-19, a friend ventured the opinion that “liberals are pussies”. As a matter of interest, this particular friend is well aware that he is categorically vulnerable to the virus, so his perspective on how governments should handle it isn’t driven by a false sense of security.

Irrespective of how much you might hate, or just be amused by, my friend’s chosen imagery – I think he’s onto something. In the roots of their belief system, if not necessarily in their personal behaviors, progressives are notably timorous. 

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Right-leaning pundits and internet commenters have been suggesting for months that blue state politicians and their cheering sections in the media are prolonging the lockdowns in the hope that the economic harm and the sense of impending doom fostered thereby will be blamed on the president and cause his defeat this November. I think such views are mostly wrong. No elected official – not even a committed leftist like Bernie – would intentionally inflict economic harm on his or her constituents. As to whether blue state politicians are hoping that the virus will harm Trump’s chance of being re-elected, though: of course they are, but what else should we expect? They hope sunrises, sunsets and pretty blue flowers do that too.

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For years (we) older conservatives have laughed at college-miseducated snowflakes who seemed to quake in their boots at the possibility that they would encounter a word or, even worse, an idea that challenged their precious progressivism. They demanded trigger warnings about such perceived verbal offenses even when reading the classics and safe spaces to which they could flee from conservative speakers. We wondered at the soundness of the institutions that seemed happy to coddle rather than challenge their evident emotional and intellectual fragility.

We assumed that once those all-too-vulnerable children left the cloistered walls of academe, their snowflakery would melt away in necessary accommodations to others’ less artificially refined sensibilities. Instead, the virus of their hyperactive sensibilities has metastasized into cancel culture, in which careers are ruined by the vigilantes of so-called political correctness bullying now-supine corporations with the threat of public shame (which seems much easier than I ever would have guessed), and Taliban-style iconoclasm – destroying with impunity statues honoring our national heritage.

Language and logic are routinely abused in expressions of the new progressive dogma. My recent favorites in this category are the now-oft-repeated assertions that “Silence is racism” and “Silence is violence.” Actually, no. Silence, racism and violence are real things, and different from each other. You can look them up.

Sentences like those are simply a means of asserting that unless the listener affirms the speaker’s ideological positions, the former is to be treated as an enemy and deserves whatever he or she gets. It’s another way of shutting down debate, but one crucial step more aggressively than by demanding a safe space in which to hide.

The threat of violence is implicit in such assertions.

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What are the leftists everywhere looking for? Safety. How do they hope to get it? Though the enforcement powers of bully-able big business and the presumed bounty of an all-consuming government.  

They want the tech firms to deplatform and businesses to fire everybody whose views are out of sync with their own. They want college to be free. They want guns taken away from law-abiding citizens. They assert rights to food security, healthcare and housing – and more equal outcomes without any reference to inputs. They even want to be told what risks they can and cannot take – as regards the virus, and generally.

What’s missing from these lists of demands? Individual freedom. Personal responsibility. Risk/reward tradeoffs. These they deem outmoded and counter-productive concepts.  

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Democracy is premised on free and open debate. Freedom, and the opportunities that flow from it, defined and built America; slavery and Jim Crow stained it and were overcome. There are no safe spaces. Risk is everywhere, as is opportunity. Government won’t save us, but it might crush us. Like it or not, we have to look out for ourselves and each other, as we live and die as individuals, not as members of arbitrarily defined groups. In a world where “all men are created equal, … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights“, all lives matter.

And progressives are, ah, pansies for thinking that safety is more important than freedom. No, it’s actually dumber than that: they’re patsies for thinking that more government, less debate and fewer freedoms will make us safer. Those things will only make us peasants.

M.H. Johnston

One comment to A False Sense of Safety

  • Douglas J McCaig  says:

    Imagine if we were being this cautious during the height of the Aids epidemic. Legally enforced social distancing and wearing ‘masks’. Problem solved. Your informed readers will know that during the Swine Flu outbreak of 2009 CDC first confirmed (6/26/09) 1,000,000 cases, by second report (11/12/09) estimated 22,000,000 infected and by final guidance (1/25/10) reported 55,000,000 cases and 257,000 hospitalizations. Hard to trust their numbers. Most recently, CDC reports combine CLI (Coronaviris like Infections) and ILI (Influenza Like Infections) and the total mortality is at or lower than historic ILI annual trends. It is no wonder that CNN reports confirmed cases now – an abrupt switch from the death numbers they gleefully reported 2 months ago.

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