Parts of the United States have apparently drifted into the realm of the surreal, with prosecutors in Los Angeles filing criminal charges against four stores remaining open during a shutdown order while in Kentucky, Easter Sunday church-goers had their license plates recorded by state troopers, and in Michigan, the governor is under fire for going to the extreme with her “stay-at-home” order.
Across social media, one might find altered images of public officials wearing swastika arm bands. The term “Nazi” is back in vogue, and a piece in the Federalist by John Daniel Davidson argues the coronavirus “is exposing little tyrants all over the country.”
In the only nation on earth with a Second Amendment in its Constitution protecting the right of—by some estimates—more than 100 million citizens to own some 400 million firearms, this would not be a formula for a happy ending if Hollywood was writing the script. In reality, it underscores just how level-headed and amazingly tolerant firearm owners can be in a crisis.
According to Newsweek, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s order to stay at home, and shut down so-called “non-essential” businesses is raising some concerns. Prosecutors have charged businesses identified as Brother Shoes, Business Discount Electronics, the DTLA Smoke Shop and Hot Box Smoke Shop, and there may be more charges against as many as 30 other establishments in the works.
Up in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer banned private gatherings, “regardless of size or family ties,” in reaction to the pandemic, according to Fox News.
Fox in a separate story also reported on the church situation in Kentucky, which was a defiance of Gov. Andy Beshear’s stay-home order.
As Davidson noted in his Federalist essay, “The response of some mayors and governors to the coronavirus pandemic in recent days has made it clear they think they have unlimited and arbitrary power over their fellow citizens, that they can order them to do or not do just about anything under the guise of protecting public health.”
These moves by public officials have kept gun rights organizations busy over the past three weeks, and there does not appear to be a let-up in sight.
But public frustration is getting well beyond the arguments over whether gun stores should be open or closed. People have lost their jobs, they are being deprived of practicing their faith in houses of worship, they’re being essentially imprisoned in their own homes by edicts that may ultimately be determined to have been unconstitutional, but for which the officials who issued them will never really be held accountable, except possibly to be thrown out of office.
The Stamford Advocate published a piece on Easter Sunday headlined “Leaders seize new powers to fight coronavirus, fears grow for democracy.” While it dealt with how national leaders in other countries might be using the pandemic to gain more power, the final paragraph might address what is happening locally in this country, according to those who are worried about mandated shutdowns and other edicts.
“It becomes easy to say you can criminalize protests because they’re a public health threat,” said Kenneth Roberts, a political scientist who studies Latin American democracy at Cornell University. “Even when social distancing is being done in response to a public health emergency, it creates a social dynamic that is tailor-made for the autocrats who want to use this crisis as a pretext to concentrate their own powers.”
Over the years, something of a sub-cultured of America has developed; not necessarily the “ruling” class so much as it is the perpetual government class. People making entire careers of serving in public office, and bouncing around from one office to another, have shown up all over the map. They may begin on the public payroll as a staffer for some politician, and then might get elected to a city council or even local school board for a couple of terms, then move on to the state legislature, followed by a run for Congress or the U.S. Senate, or governor, county executive, mayor; any other higher office with more juice and a better paycheck. None of these people seem to spend a day of their adult life in the private sector, and even if they are not serving, they are running for office as if stuck in some perpetual motion machine.
And a little power seems to go a long way.
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