The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of unbelievable events I never thought I would see in America. Not the pandemic, because most people expect that diseases will come and go even on a larger scale than normal. But the absolute willingness of my fellow Americans to be ordered about by their state governments as if they are nothing but subjects of a king, with no rights other than those conferred by the monarch, has thrown me for a loop.
Where is it in the Constitution that says our rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, freedom to redress grievances, the right to a speedy trial, etc., are all void in the case of a pandemic? I assure you, it isn’t there. What has happened to America in a few short weeks is the scariest scenario I could imagine. Dystopian novelists couldn’t come up with this plot.
When did we become a nation of mice, hiding in our homes scared of a sickness? I have spoken with elderly people who lived through multiple pandemics who are as confused as I am. They told me stories of how they went on with their lives while people with the sickness quarantined in their homes with signs on the outside warning neighbors that they were infected. Commerce did not stop. Rights were not violated. Pastors were not arrested.
I’ve watched with horror as our rights are being trampled with alarming frequency, from the praying Christians begging God for an end to abortion being carted off to jail, to the store clerk who was arrested for shooting men who broke into his store, to all the businesses being shut down and deemed “not essential” with the stroke of a pen. I am repeatedly pinching myself to see if I am living in a nightmare.
Who are you, America? Are you a nation that folds at the slightest threat of illness and lets tyrants take your rights without even a squeak of objection? I was willing to give this idea the fifteen days we were told we needed to “flatten the curve.” We could recover after fifteen days. But then the “experts” began changing their models and pushing back dates. States are writing themselves blank checks, the fed is printing money like toilet paper, and now Virginia has issued stay-at home-orders through June. Churches have been closed. Priests are being denied the right to administer the sacraments or even to perform the final rites to dying patients and worse, they are complying. (One wonders if St. Theresa would have stopped caring for the sick if ordered to by the government, or what would have become of the lepers of Molokai without St. Damien.) This situation is not sustainable nor humane. But who is objecting?
Are the people of America going to obey these draconian dictates? It sure seems like it. Who is protesting the arrests of people praying on the street, where people walking or jogging are left alone? No one. Who is protesting the release of rapists from prisons while the cells get filled with people who aren’t properly “social-distancing”? No one.
Who are you, America? What I’m seeing from my countrymen is a people I don’t recognize and whom I feel no connection to. Where are the people who will risk death for liberty? Do they even exist anymore? Or are we all so fat and anesthetized by Netflix and stored-up snack food that we’ve lost the ability to rouse ourselves from this panic-induced coma?
I’m going to repeat something I said at the beginning of this. You are going to die. It’s a certainty, along with taxes and inefficient government agencies. Be it the Chinese WuFlu or a bad car accident or a drowning or cancer, you are going to die. There’s no avoiding it. What you avoid today will be visited on you at some point. The question now is, will you die free or a slave?
Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter