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Giving Government the Finger: Americans Ending the Shutdown on Our Own Terms

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

If America as we know it was born on April 19, 1775, at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, perhaps it will be reborn in the aftermath of the weekslong Wuhan virus shutdown.

Last month I wrote for our VIP members about this nation’ foundational principles and the war we fought to secure them:

Too often, when we think of tyranny today, we think of state-owned media and secret police and barbed wire and concentration camps. But the Founding Fathers set a much lower bar for their definition of tyranny. James Madison argued that “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” He also boldly insisted, “We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.” And that’s exactly what the American patriots of Lexington & Concord did. To them, as it still should be for us today, tyranny comes in the form of any law or government action not subject to the consent of the people, who are sovereign.

As a sovereign people, how could we allow ourselves to be ordered into our homes, our businesses shuttered, our factories closed, and our services industries brought to a virtual halt?

Well, we allowed it to happen because we believed the danger was real and threatened millions of us. For broad swathes of the country, the threat never materialized. In fact, two-thirds of all COVID-19 infections in the country are in one region (Boston down through Philly, with half of those just in the New York City area) plus two other major urban areas in the midwest (Detroit and Chicago).

Americans are getting antsy, and who can blame us?

Someone on Facebook a couple of weeks ago summed it up in a comment. I didn’t think to bookmark it, so I’ll have to paraphrase:

At the outbreak, Americans were told we’d have to hunker down for four weeks and we said, “OK, we can do that to save lives.” At the end of the four weeks, we were told it was going to be two more weeks and we said, “We can do two more weeks if we have to.” After six weeks we were told, “You know what? It’s going to be another two weeks. Maybe longer.”

That’s when Americans did what Americans so often do: We gave our tyrannical government the middle-finger salute it so richly deserved, and stopped following the lockdown orders.

The protests and flagrant disregard for the orders from on high have been worse in those states where the government has acted most tyrannically. Michigan residents showed the way nearly three weeks ago, openly bearing arms in protest against their heavy-handed governor, Gretchen Whitmer. The Freedom Virus has even spread to Michigan’s law-enforcement community. On Friday, Fox News reported that some law enforcement agencies in the state now refuse to follow Whitmer’s lockdown orders.

In New York City, protest took the form of people going out and hanging around bars, as though they had normal lives or something. Californians have been ignoring beach closures and social-distancing orders, despite stern threats from Governor Gavin Newsom.

That is to say, the American people are practically in open revolt against Democratic governors.

It’s telling that no less than Hillary Clinton, she of the tin-est of tin ears, “branded the armed anti-coronavirus protesters in Michigan ‘domestic terrorists,’ as tempers flared up again.”

Freedom-loving Americans, even the ones bearing arms in Michigan, are not engaging in any sort of terrorism. Terrorism is the use of violence against civilians in order to impose a political agenda. In Michigan and elsewhere, civilians are peaceably refusing to comply with an authoritarian political agenda imposed by imperious elected officials and unaccountable bureaucrats.

Back in March, writing about a different issue, I shared this thought:

There’s a recurring theme in American speculative fiction in which, having lost our way as a free people, some horrible calamity ensues that forces the survivors to re-examine, re-evaluate, and re-capture our essential Americaness. From Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged to John Ringo’s The Last Centurion to John Birmingham’s Without Warning series, the idea of American liberty reemerging through some terrible crisis has been a bestselling one for decades.

The Wuhan virus pandemic has revealed that our experts don’t seem to have much expertise, that our elected officials don’t seem to care very much about the people who elected them, and that the American people still have a very limited willingness to accommodate those so ignorant and so overbearing — even when it’s supposedly for our own good.

That’s the same spirit that caused Minutemen to grab their muskets and rush to the sound of gunfire at Lexington. As long as that rebellious spirit lives, so does America.