The Moral Authority of the Lockdown Fetishists Is Gone. Thank the Protestors and Rioters.


Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

Six weeks ago, when thousands around the nation took to state capitols to protest the human rights abuses inflicted by coerced “stay-at-home orders,” lockdown supporters reacted with sanctimonious outrage.

Declaring the protestors to be “covidiots” who failed to appreciate the virtue and necessity of police-enforced lockdowns, news outlets and lockdown advocates on social media declared that the protests would cause outbreaks of disease, and nurses declared that the protests were “a slap in the face” to those trying to treat the disease. One political cartoon featured an image of an emergency room nurse saying “see you soon” to antilockdown protestors.

Now, with far larger numbers of protestors amassing in larger groups, we hear none of the lofty moralism coming from the media or lockdown enthusiasts on social media. Yes, there are still some token attempts to express worry over how the riots and protests of recent days might spread the disease. But the tone is quite different. Concerns over COVID-19 are now phrased along the blueprint of “if you protest—and we would never dream of telling you not to protest—please take these measures to minimize risk.” It’s all very polite and deferential to the protestors. Politicians like Kamala Harris have even joined the protestors in the streets, doing what she demanded others avoid just a few weeks earlier. Where are the nurses denouncing these protests as a “slap in the face”? Where are the social media COVID warriors telling us that standing next to a person without a mask is tantamount to homicide? They’re very hard to find, nowadays.

Of course, those who support the current protests, but oppose last month’s protests, claim that there is no equivalence. Many would likely say, “We’re now protesting against people being killed in the streets!” followed by “Those other protestors just wanted haircuts.

The reality, of course, was far different.

Most of those who oppose the COVID lockdowns are well aware that the lockdowns kill. They lead to severe child abuse, to more suicide, and to more drug overdoses. They lead to denial of medical care, because lockdown edicts have ridiculously labeled many necessary medical procedures as “elective.” Lockdowns have rendered tens of millions of Americans unemployed while robbing people of their social support from family and community groups. Lockdowns increased police abuse and harassment of innocent people who were guilty of no crime but leaving their homes or trying to earn a living.

Lockdown advocates, however, declared all of this to be “worth it” and demanded that their ideological opponents just shut up and “#stayhome.”

Lockdowns for Thee, but Not for Me

But now the current spate of protests and riots have made it clear that lockdowns and social distancing are all very optional so long as the protestors are favored by a left-wing narrative.

While the prolockdown-antilockdown conflict can’t be defined by any neat left-right divide, it is nonetheless largely true that the most enthusiastic advocates of COVID lockdowns are found on the left side of the spectrum.

And that’s why things have now gotten so interesting. It was easy for the prolockdown left to oppose protests when those protests were seen as a right-wing phenomenon. But now that the protests are favored by the Left, then it’s all perfectly fine beyond a handful of politely expressed “concerns” that protests might spread disease.

The Left’s about-face on the sacredness of social distancing will have significant effects on the future enforcement of stay-at-home orders and social distancing laws.

After all, on what grounds will governors, mayors, and law enforcement officers justify continued attacks on religious groups who seek to assemble in the usual fashion? If one group of people is allowed to gather by the hundreds to express one set of beliefs, why are other groups not allowed the same basic human right?

Politicians will no doubt soon invent new rationales for this inconsistency. Indeed, we already have one case. New York mayor Bill DeBlasio has come right out and said that people who protest racism are allowed to assemble. DeBlasio likes them. But how about religious gatherings? DeBlasio doesn’t like those, so they’re still prohibited.

The Moral Authority of the Lockdown Advocates Is Gone

The current riots and protests have accelerated this sort of disregard for coerced social distancing, although things were already headed in this direction anyway.

The lockdowns initially were imposed with so little resistance, because the legacy media and government bureaucrats managed to convince a sizable portion of the public that virtually everyone was in grave danger of death or serious disability from COVID-19. Many people believe these experts.

By May, however, it had become clear that the doomsday scenarios predicted by the official technocrats had greatly overstated the reality. Certainly there were many vulnerable groups, and many died of complications from disease, just as many died during the pandemics of 1958 and 1969. But there’s a difference between a spike in total deaths and a civilization-stopping plague. The experts promised the latter. We got the former. And we would have gotten the former even without lockdowns. Those jurisdictions that imposed no general lockdowns—such as Sweden—never experienced the sort of apocalyptic death predicted by lockdown advocates. Yes, they had excess deaths, but Sweden’s hospitals never even went into “emergency mode.” In the US, those states that imposed limited lockdowns for only a short period never experienced overloaded hospitals and overflowing morgues as was claimed would happen.

Could this yet happen in the future from some other disease or from a different wave of this one? It’s certainly possible, but there’s no reason to assume the CDC and its defenders will have any idea what’s going on ahead of time. The lockdown advocates have already been so wrong about masks, about fatality rates, about the models, and about so much more that we have no way of knowing if we should believe them the next time they show up and swear that “this time, the situation is truly dire!”

But we’re not out of the lockdown woods yet. This fall, politicians and other lockdown advocates are likely to start up again with demands that new laws be passed requiring people to stay home, shut down their businesses, and otherwise put life on hold in the name of stopping COVID-19.

But it’s unlikely that the public will fall for the same routine twice in a row. At least not to the same extent. The reaction of many will likely be “we’ve heard this song and dance before. Besides, social distancing didn’t matter to these experts back during the riots. Why should we believe them now?”

It’s a good question


  1. There’s a lot here.

    First off, anyone who cares to look can see the difference between how the elites in this country treat right-wing activism compared to how they treat left-wing activism. If the Tea Party or the recent anti-lockdown protests had contained 1/1,000,000th of the violence as the #BLM “protests” have held, they would have sent people to Gitmo. I’m old enough to remember the media anxiously wringing their hands over the Tea Party protests and practically begging the attendees to break out in violence. Seemingly every story contained a “potential for violence” graf. Yet the violence never materialized. Much like the old line about fascism always descending on America but landing in Europe, violence is apparently always descending on right-wing rallies yet somehow landing in left-wing rallies. And in spite of the actual violence that we can all see on our local newscasts, somehow the #BLM “protestors” are worth listening to, even kowtowing too.

    Secondly, the Covid crisis could have been used to unify America, but it was used to further divide us. It truly is an awful, awful class of people who rule us. I was largely supportive of the lockdowns when they started back in March, but it’s been clear for weeks and weeks now that they are no longer needed in the vast majority of America, and may not have been very effective at all, ever. The inability of our elites to pivot based on new information is astounding. They just get locked into a position and won’t back off it.

    The double-mindedness and double-tonguedness of Blue mayors and governors responding to the #BLM protests vis-a-vis church services is astounding. Likewise for the responses to the small and peaceful anti-lockdown rallies. Remember when lefty was demanding that the anti-lockdown protestors be denied medical care? (Now why would those deplorable people be against something as wonderful as universal government-paid health care, do you suppose?) Somehow they forgot that line as soon as it was Team Blue out rallying in the streets.

    I think the long-run outcome of the Covid situation and the attendant #BLM riots will be both greater than and less than people imagine. Gun control, for example, isn’t going anywhere as a political issue. Lefty buying a Glock to defend his house isn’t going to change his political positions any more than righty cashing his stimulus check. On the other hand, the damage that’s been done to our ability to unify as a people, our willingness to listen to and obey the people in authority may bear some very bitter fruit.

    The administration of a large hospital chain in my state started sounding the alarm yesterday that Covid is beginning to strain hospital resources. The second wave may be back on the docket. And even if the second wave doesn’t return this summer, there’s always next fall/winter’s cold/flu/Covid season to worry about. But the last round was such a flash in the pan most places, particularly in red America, that I’m not sure public health officials/governors/etc. have enough authority left to do anything about it. Never mind what Covid-20, Covid-21 and Covid-22 will look like.

  2. They already labeled the open up protests as white supremacists a week or two ago. Not sure how they draw that line but people eat it up.

    • They called the Tea Party racist 10+ years ago, despite the Tea Party largely being doctrinairly anti-racist. That was an eye-opener for yours truly.

  3. John, I see three sources of violence at these protests, there are the Boyz from the hood whose curbside bidness has been severely impacted by the lockdown.
    These are organized gangs and are the ones who broke into that Dodge Dealer in San Leandro stealing 50 odd cars including a number of Dodge Hellcats.
    You have the anarchists and dumb kids who just want to break anything they can’t steal.
    And you have the cops, uniformed and undercover.
    That video of four uniformed NYPD officers taking nightclubs to their own patrol car made me laugh.
    Read up a bit on “Cointelpro”, it hasn’t gone away and the fibbies are notorious for encouraging any even vaguely leftist group to become violent.
    Entrapment makes for easy cases and great headlines, how many retarded teenagers ( Literally retarded) have they provided guns or phony explosives to over the years since 9/11?
    I think the last count was somewhere around 150…
    There are some bad cops in every department and some departments have been notoriously corrupt since at least the 1920’s.
    Chicago, New York, Stockton CA, and of course the LA County Sheriff’s department has had full blown criminal gangs ( The “Bandito’s” are the most infamous) as part of the force for decades.
    I take allegations by the Authorities with a grain of salt at the best of times…does “Russiagate” ring a bell?

  4. For those who are interested Greg Doucette has compiled a list of twitter videos showing incidents of brutality by the police during the recent protests, 428 videos.
    Definitely NSFW.
    Treating people as enemy combatants who are simply exercising their first amendment rights will not end well.
    I’m an absolutist when it comes to the bill of rights and support the rights of ANY group to assemble and petition for a redress of grievances, if that right is violently abridged we have the second amendment for a reason.


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