Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called the recent protests against authoritarian, coronavirus-related government policies “unfortunate.”
Speaking on Fox News, she said: “That is really the answer. Testing. Tracing. Treatment. Shelter in place… But, you know, people will do what they do.” She added, “The fact is, we’re all impatient. We all want out. But what they’re doing is really unfortunate.”
I could not disagree more strongly. There is nothing “unfortunate” about people bravely fighting back against tyrannical governments. That is especially true when the government policies being protested against are endorsed as necessary and appropriate by the majority of people.
The anti-lockdown protests do not have to do with people being “impatient.” They have to do with people believing (correctly, in my opinion) that the government’s lockdown orders are morally wrong and violate people’s rights.
It may well be true that the measures Pelosi lists – shelter in place orders, testing, contact tracing, and treatment – are the best ways to reduce the risk posed by the coronavirus. But what she does not take into account is that reducing risk is not necessarily the most important value, to be maximized at all costs. Individual rights and liberty matter as well. It is OK for the government to take away people’s freedom of movement in order to slow the spread of the virus? How about to ban people from transacting business, thereby destroying their ability to make a living? And to what extent is it OK to take away people’s privacy through attempts to trace and monitor who they come in contact with?
People can legitimately come up with differing answers to these questions. Those with minority views on how best to deal with the coronavirus pandemic deserve to be heard. Their opinions are just as valid and important as those of the majority. Pelosi is wrong to presume that her opinions are automatically correct and that her values are the only ones that matter.
The fact the America has such a small-minded, unimaginative, and intolerant Speaker of the House is truly unfortunate.