My heart is cheered at the news reports of protests all over the country against state governments’ authoritarian, anti-liberty actions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Michigan, protesters held what they described as “Operation Gridlock” to express their opposition to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.
In Texas, a “You Can’t Close America” rally took place outside the State Capitol in Austin. “It’s sad how easily, with the snap of a finger, they’ll just shut down society,” said protester Dave Litrell, “and it’s even more sad that most of the people just acquiesce.”
In Indiana, protesters rallied outside Governor Eric Holcomb’s residence to criticize his executive orders closing businesses and directing people to stay at home. (Looks like one had an awesome picture of Ron Paul according to a photo in this article.) Protester Andy Horning said, “I’ve got kids who want to live a good life. I don’t want to bequeath them a Venezuela. I don’t want to bequeath them a North Korea.” One sign read, “My freedom does not end where your fears begin.” It would be hard to say it better than that.
Similar protests have taken place recently in California, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
“Free people make their own risk assessments,” read one sign in New Hampshire.
“Quarantine is for sick people,” said Eric Moutsos, a protester in Utah. “When you lock healthy people away, that’s tyranny.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said of the protests: “People are frustrated, we’re anxious, we’re scared, we’re angry. Look, if you have partisan divisions splitting this nation now, it’s going to make it worse… This is no time, and no place for division. We have out hands full as it is. Let’s just stay together, and let’s work it through.”
But this statement does not really acknowledge the protesters’ dissenting viewpoints. It’s not that people are anxious or scared or angry… it’s that people believe the government’s policies are wrong. Cuomo makes no attempt to listen to the protesters’ arguments or to understand where they are coming from. He essentially says that everyone should simply have the same opinions as him and follow the policies that he and other governors enact. But the whole point of the protests is that not everyone supports those policies. Cuomo does not acknowledge that people can read about and think about the issues and have different opinions than he does. He does not acknowledge that people can have different ideas about how best to work through the situation and what values should be prioritized.
President Trump, to his credit, had good things to say about the protesters. “These are people expressing their views,” he said. “They seem to be very responsible people to me.” He also tweeted his support:
These pictures from the protests make me proud of my country. My views about individual rights, particularly in the context of the pandemic, place me in the minority, but reading about and watching videos of the protests makes me feel that I am not alone. I hope that there will always be true patriots like these, bravely fighting for freedom.