bookmark_borderRachel Maddow on the Covid vaccine

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow had some pretty disturbing comments about the Covid-19 vaccine, that demonstrate that she does not understand the concept of people having the right to make their own decisions based on their preferences.

“It is OK to feel reluctant or oogey or scared, and not want to get it,” Maddow said. “That is nothing to be ashamed of. But feel the fear and do it anyway. Get it. Because most of all, it is not for you. It is to keep you from getting the virus and then spreading it.”

First of all, Maddow assumes that the only reason someone would not want to get the vaccine is because he or she is “oogey” (whatever that means) or afraid. This presumes the truth of what Maddow is trying to prove – namely, that everyone should get the vaccine. It presumes that getting the vaccine is the rational thing to do, and any desire not to get it must be based on an irrational emotion such as fear. There are a variety of reasons why someone might not want to get the vaccine, many of which have nothing to do with fear. For example, I’m currently undecided about whether or not to get the vaccine, partially because I think it’s wise to wait until I know more about the side effects and how long the protection lasts, and partially because I am unlikely to become seriously ill if I get Covid, so I simply don’t think adding another medical procedure to my life is necessary.

More importantly, whatever a person decides with regards to the vaccine, that decision should be his or her own. Each person has the right to make decisions about his or her body without bullying, pressure, or coercion from anyone else. As liberals like Maddow say so frequently with regards to abortion (but completely forget about whenever any other issue is being discussed): my body, my choice. Hearing people like Maddow tell me I must get the vaccine makes me feel insulted and attacked, and therefore less likely to get it.

She is essentially saying, it’s OK to have preferences that are different from mine, as long as you don’t act according to them, and act according to mine instead. This is incredibly patronizing and condescending. The whole purpose of having preferences is to use them when making decisions. What is the point of having preferences if you are supposed to disregard them and make decisions according to someone else’s preferences? If someone does not want to get the vaccine, that means that they do not want to get the vaccine. Why should someone get the vaccine when their preference is to not get it? What Maddow is saying makes no sense. 

A final note: actually, the vaccine is for you, not to keep you from getting the virus and then spreading it. The vaccine is a benefit that people should be able to avail themselves of, if they wish. It is not something that people should be forced or pressured into doing. It is not something that people have a right to order other people to get, as Maddow is doing.

So no, choosing not to get the vaccine is not about being “oogey” or scared. It is about the principle that people are not morally obligated to get a medical procedure for the benefit of other people. 

If you want to get the vaccine, you should get it. If you don’t want to get the vaccine, you shouldn’t get it. It really is that simple. 

bookmark_borderPeople who destroy statues should not be honored with statues

This summer, intolerant bullies destroyed a statue of Col. John Chivington at the State Capitol building in Denver, Colorado. Native Americans are now advocating that the statue be replaced by one of a Cheyenne woman in a pose of mourning, which would serve as a memorial for the Sand Creek Massacre that Chivington was allegedly involved in.

In my opinion, this is the wrong decision, because it would reward the vandals who destroyed Chivington’s statue. While I am not sure of the identity of the exact people who tore the statue down, the people and organizations who advocated for and praised its destruction are the same ones advocating for the Native American statue to take its place. Those who destroy a statue, or are complicit in its destruction, should not be allowed to dictate its replacement.

The AP article on this topic discusses the “historical trauma” that Native Americans suffered and the “chance to right previous wrongs” that the new statue represents. But the real wrong in this case is the epidemic of brutal destruction that has been perpetrated against countless beautiful, historical statues and monuments. The real trauma is that which has been inflicted on people who love history, people such as myself who have seen nearly everything that makes life worth living destroyed in the span of less than a year. Yes, Native Americans have suffered trauma and unjust treatment, but statue destruction is not the solution to this. Destroying statues inflicts trauma and injustice on the people who love them. And rewarding those who destroy statues sends the message that the trauma and suffering of people like me does not matter.

Plus, there already is a memorial to the Sand Creek Massacre at the location where it took place in southeastern Colorado. It reduces diversity to remove the only statue of Chivington that there is and to replace it with a second memorial to something for which a memorial already exists. The only appropriate replacement for a statue of Chivington is a statue of Chivington. He was not perfect, but he was a human being, and no human being deserves to have their statue brutalized and their memory erased.

bookmark_borderAttack of the anti-Italian bigots

The town of Wellesley, Massachusetts recently made the disgraceful and unjust decision to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Even more disgraceful than the decision itself are the comments made on social media by Kisha James, an anti-diversity activist who advocated for the holiday change, and her mindless sycophants.

Here I will rebut the statements made by James and her sycophants one by one. Warning: so many disgusting and reprehensible statements were made that this blog post is going to be pretty long.

First of all, James and her allies treat the debate about whether or not Columbus should be honored as a joke. Their primary way of addressing an issue is to ridicule those who think differently than they do. Instead of expressing their views in a respectful manner, they personally attack and ridicule their opponents. I don’t understand what her comment about saying something “with your whole chest” even means, but it is clearly an attempt to ridicule her opponent’s statement. This is what bullies do. Also, “lmao”? I am not sure what James finds humorous about this situation. A beautiful, courageous, and brilliant man is being brutally obliterated from the world. As someone on the autism spectrum who loves history, the destruction of historical statues, place names, and holidays that has taken place over the past year has been nothing short of heartbreaking. Because history is my passion, history-related things such as Christopher Columbus statues and Confederate statues make my life worth living. James and those who think like her have deliberately destroyed the things that make my life worth living. Therefore, most days I am filled with rage, grief, and despair, unsure if it even makes sense to go on living. Maybe I’m just a debbie downer with no sense of humor, but I don’t find this particularly funny.

Continue reading “Attack of the anti-Italian bigots”

bookmark_borderBiased article about statue genocide in Richmond

This article is old but still biased and inaccurate enough to merit blogging about. The article in the Richmond Free Press, from last June, describes the brutal and heartless destruction of a statue of Christopher Columbus and a statue of Williams Carter Wickham as follows:

Decrying police brutality and white supremacy, Richmond protesters have taken an active approach to removing symbols of oppression by pulling statues of Christopher Columbus and Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham from their pedestals in public parks.

The Columbus statue in Byrd Park was brought down with ropes, briefly set on fire and dragged into Fountain Lake on Tuesday evening following a protest and march down Arthur Ashe Boulevard led by members of Richmond’s indigenous community.

During a a peaceful protest in Byrd Park, demonstrators reaffirmed a commitment to inclusivity and solidarity with all marginalized and oppressed peoples.

“We no longer leave behind people in this movement,” said Joseph Rogers, a member of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality.

Taking an active approach? That’s an interesting way of describing the brutal and vicious destruction of beautiful works of art that are not yours to destroy.

Additionally, the statues destroyed were not symbols of oppression; they were symbols of freedom, liberty, diversity, independent thinking, and fighting back against authority, all of which are the opposite of oppression.

Furthermore, the author describes the actions in question as a “peaceful protest,” despite the fact that in the previous sentence, the author wrote that the statue of Columbus was brought down with ropes, set on fire, and thrown into a lake. (Just typing those words makes me feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest.) These actions are anything but peaceful.

Plus, the claim that demonstrators “reaffirmed a commitment to inclusivity and solidarity with all marginalized and oppressed peoples” is blatantly false. Destroying statues is inherently non-inclusive, particularly when those statues represent unpopular minorities, which the Columbus and Wickham ones did. And destroying statues that represent marginalized and oppressed people, as these statues did, is an attack on marginalized and oppressed people, which is the opposite of expressing solidarity with them. So the demonstrators actually did precisely the opposite of what the article characterizes them as doing. The quote by one of the protesters that “we no longer leave behind people in this movement,” is preposterous. This movement, by destroying statues that represent cultures and viewpoints other than their own, is actively attacking and trampling on people who do not think the way they do. That is inherently leaving people out and leaving people behind. The name of the organization is also preposterous: by destroying statues of unpopular minorities, the organization’s members are actively advocating against freedom, justice, and equality.

Later in the article, the author inaccurately describes the events in Charlottesville in 2017 as a “deadly white supremacist rally.” The rally was actually to express opposition to the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, which has nothing to do with white supremacy. Additionally, the rally was not deadly; it was the counter-protest by intolerant bullies that caused violence.

The article also describes Edward Colston, whose statue was viciously destroyed in a similar incident to Columbus, as a “17th century slave trader.” This is an inaccurate characterization. Colston was a merchant. He bought and sold a variety of goods participated in many different industries, of which the slave trade was only one.

Finally, even the article’s headline – “Columbus and Wickham statues come down” is biased. The brutal, vicious, disgusting, and intolerant destruction of statues should never be treated as something even that is remotely acceptable. This headline completely fails to capture the moral wrongness of the actions described within it. Any article needs to characterize the deliberate destruction of statues as the atrocity that it is.

bookmark_borderPeople who do not get the vaccine are not “moochers”

A recent editorial in the L.A. Times claims that people who choose not to receive the Covid-19 vaccine are “mooching off the rest of us.” I strongly disagree with this idea. 

First of all, the editorial repeatedly uses the verb “refuse” to characterize the decision not to get a vaccine. I disagree with this word choice, as it implies that the decision not to get a vaccine is a bad thing. In my opinion, it is not. People have a fundamental right to decide for themselves whether or not to get a vaccine (or any medical procedure, for that matter). Both options are equally valid and acceptable. 

The editorial criticizes Rep. Madison Cawthorn and Sen. Rand Paul, who have (in the author’s words) “defended the right not to be immunized as an exercise in individual freedom” and are “casting themselves as courageous individualists.” These two gentlemen are 100% correct. The right not to be immunized is an exercise in individual freedom, and those who defend this right are courageous individualists. 

The editorial tries to debunk Cawthorn’s and Paul’s arguments as follows: “The hazards of refusing the vaccine don’t confine themselves to the individual refuser. Vaccine resisters are putting the rest of us in danger, too. Unvaccinated people who contract COVID-19, even if they don’t become seriously ill, can pass the virus to family and friends.”

It is true that not getting a vaccine can have indirect effects on other people. But this is no reason to take away people’s freedom to choice. Every decision that a person makes has the potential to indirectly affect other people, but no sane person would argue that people shouldn’t have the freedom to decide on anything. The deciding factor is not whether a decision carries risks for other people but whether a decision violates others’ rights. In aggregate, the choice not to get the vaccine does increase the odds of catching Covid-19 for everyone in the community. But this choice does not violate the rights of anyone. There is no right to live in a world without infections diseases, or a world where one’s risk of catching any particular disease is below any particular threshold. The demand that the vaccine be made mandatory does violate people’s rights, however. Those who make this demand are essentially attempting to force medical procedures on other people, something that blatantly and unquestionably violates rights. They are arguing that the ability to live in a community with low rates of Covid transmission is more important than the ability to make one’s own medical decisions. I vehemently disagree with this claim. People have the right to make their own medical decisions regardless of what effect this has on the community’s risk level. In other words, no one has the right to demand that people be made to get medical procedures against their will for the sake of reducing their own risk or that of others.

The editorial goes on to insult Cawthorn, Paul, and others who think like them (including myself): “In fact, they’re acting as epidemiological moochers. They’re free riders, relying on the rest of us to protect them by helping the country reach herd immunity. Their relatives and friends, especially those 65 or older, should give them a wide berth. And their voters should treat them as what they are: dangerous to the health of their communities.”

I disagree with this characterization as well. No one is morally obligated to undergo any medical procedure, even if doing so would have indirect benefits to others, and no one who opts out of a medical procedure is a “moocher.” It is true that Covid-19 vaccination has what is called “positive externalities” – meaning that in aggregate it does tend to benefit society as a whole by reducing the overall amount Covid transmission. But there is no rule that if an activity has positive externalities, then everyone should be required to do it. I would be perfectly happy to live in a world where no one got the vaccine, but given that a lot of people are choosing to get it, there is no way for me to avoid the positive externalities. A moocher is someone who deliberately obtains a benefit without paying for it; therefore it is not accurate to describe people who do not get the vaccine as “moochers.” 

Additionally, although each person has the right to make his or her own decisions about who to associate with, it is intolerant, mean-spirited, controlling, and nosy to take another person’s medical decisions into account when deciding whether or not to spend time with them. I would never make a friend or relative’s vaccination status a factor in whether or not to associate with them, because it is none of my business. 

It may be true that Cawthorn and Paul are infinitesimally contributing to their communities’ virus risk. They are also bravely standing up for individual rights at a time when doing so is unpopular, and therefore desperately needed. That is far more important. 

bookmark_borderThe statue genocide in New Hampshire

The statue genocide that has been perpetrated by the Black Lives Matter movement is such a painful topic for me that it is often too difficult for me to read about it. But on occasions when I feel able to do so, I try to research this topic, both for a website that I am working on that memorializes its victims, as well as for the purpose of determining if there are any states in the U.S. that have been untouched by the genocide and therefore are possible places where I could live. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any. When researching the possibility of moving to New Hampshire, I came across an article from the New Hampshire Union Leader outlining the efforts of the politically correct bullies to ruin everything in the state. There are numerous problems with the article and with the people quoted in it, which I will outline below:

First of all, the entire premise of the article is wrong. The author, Shawne Wickham, characterizes the destruction of everything good in the world as a “soul-searching” motivated by learning more about monuments and the historical figures they represent. It is assumed that everything from getting rid of Aunt Jemima from the pancake mix, to taking down a weathervane depicting a Native American at Dartmouth College, to renaming Franklin Pierce University, to renaming the city of Keene, to altering the Hannah Duston Memorial, is a good thing. But these are bad things which eliminate the richness, beauty, and diversity of our world and move us closer to a society in which every person thinks the same and every place looks the same. We should be aiming to add more beautiful, amazing, wonderful, distinctive, glorious, unique, and diverse things to our world, not to eliminate the few existing ones. New Hampshire has never had any statues of Christopher Columbus or of any Confederate generals, and the article presumes that this is a good thing, but it is not. What would actually make the world a better place is to add more Confederate statues and more Columbus statues to our public spaces, but, as is the case with almost all of the media coverage over the past year about the topic of statues, this is not even presented as an option.

A major topic of the article is the statue of Hannah Duston in Boscawen, NH. Duston is a woman who was captured by Native Americans in 1697. The Native Americans killed her baby, and she eventually escaped and killed 10 of them in revenge. University of New Hampshire Professor Meghan Howey and Abenaki leader Denise Pouliot joined forces to “address” the statue (there again is the false assumption that the existence of statues that are at all different, distinctive, or controversial is a problem that needs to be solved, as opposed to a good thing that the world needs more of). Their plan is to create a park called “Unity Park N’dakinna” around the statue, including interpretive signage as well as a statue of an Abenaki family. The project will involve various experts such as artists, historians, and landscape designers, and a statewide fundraising campaign is planned. My question is… what is the point of all this? Without Columbus statues and Confederate statues, the world is not a place worth living in. There is no point in expending resources on any statues, parks, or public spaces until all of the Columbus statues and Confederate statues have been put back up. It is not fair that one group of people gets to design a park that represents their history and values, while other people are forced to live in a world where everything that represents their history and values has been destroyed. It is a slap in the face to read about all the thought, effort, expertise, and money being used to create this park, while I am no longer able to enjoy any parks in my hometown of Boston because they remind me of the fact that the statue of my hero, Christopher Columbus, was brutally beheaded and the city has made no effort to hold the perpetrators accountable. To focus resources on this park, while everything that makes my life worth living has been destroyed, is to tell me that my pain does not matter, that my feelings do not matter, and that my happiness does not matter. It is to tell the Italian-American community and the Confederate community that our lives, and the lives of our ancestors, do not matter.

Another topic of the article is Confederate statues. Ellen Townes-Anderson, a professor at Rutgers, argues in the article that obliterating statues of Confederate leaders does not amount to erasing history, because battlefields, museums, and books still exist and are still available to those who wish to learn. This is true, but what makes Confederate statues so important is not just their educational value but also the fact that Confederate leaders deserve to be honored and glorified. They fought bravely for the cause of individual liberty and self-determination. The existence of beautiful statues honoring deserving people and causes is an essential part of what gives cities, towns, statues, and countries their identities. It is a crucial part of having a world that is worth living in. Elizabeth Dubrulle at the New Hampshire Historical Society argues that Confederate statues are particularly bad because “they did commit treason… Where in the world would you put up statues to people who committed treason?” Anyone who uses the “treason” argument to criticize the Confederacy reveals him/herself to be an authoritarian and a bully. Every person and/or group of people has a fundamental right to leave his/her country and form a new one, and that is exactly what the Confederates fought to be able to do. Anyone who thinks that the Confederates committed “treason” by forming their own country is an authoritarian who tramples on individual rights. Dubrulle also mentions that Confederate statues were allegedly created to promote a racist agenda and that the Confederacy has come to symbolize white supremacy in modern times. But the motivations behind a statue’s creation, as well as people’s perceptions of the statue today, are not the deciding factors in evaluating the statue. What truly matters is who the statue depicts and what that person stood for, which may or may not match up with popular perception.

It’s horrific enough that magnificent statues of Columbus and of Confederate generals have been viciously destroyed across the country, but the ideas suggested by the people quoted in the article – such as renaming the city of Keene because its namesake participated in the slave trade and stripping President Franklin Pierce’s name from a university and law school because he had the audacity to compromise with the South on the issue of slavery – are downright ridiculous. Howey, the professor at UNH, suggests that this new way of looking at history is “much more interesting and nuanced,” but I see it as the opposite. The so-called experts quoted in the article, and many people in general, are essentially attempting to get rid of everything that honors anyone who is not considered 100% perfect according to the social norms of 2021. This makes history, and by extension the world, bland, boring, conformist, and soulless. History has been my passion since I was 10, and there is nothing interesting or appealing about this way of commemorating and studying history. 

Rutgers professor Townes-Anderson says in the article that it feels for the first time “like real change is possible… we have the best chance we’ve had in a long time.” But the change of which she speaks – the eradication of Confederate statues from public spaces – is a negative change, not a positive one. The BLM movement is turning the world from a place that is mostly bad, with a few beautiful and good things still left, to a world that is 100% bad, in which the few remaining beautiful and good things have been destroyed. Media coverage of this topic needs to recognize this. Instead of being presented as something neutral or even positive, the statue genocide must be treated as the horrific injustice that it is.

bookmark_borderThoughts on the destruction of Frederik V statue in Copenhagen

A few months ago, a group of artists stole a bust of King Frederick V from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and dumped it into Copenhagen Harbor. By the time the statue was found, it was ruined beyond repair, its head and neck eaten away by the water.

Frederick’s crime? Ruling over a country that had colonies and participated in the slave trade and sugar trade. At the time of Frederick’s rule (from 1746-1766), Denmark had several colonies, including the Danish West Indies, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Iceland, and minor outposts in India and Ghana. Denmark abolished the slave trade in 1792 and ceded most of its colonies by the 20th century. 

According to a New York Times article, the group said in a statement: “We want an art world that relates to and takes responsibility — not only for the actions of the past, but for the ways in which colonialism is still active today.” They added that they wanted to demonstrate solidarity with people affected by colonialism and to spark dialogue with Denmark’s institutions. Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld, a professor at the academy, was fired for her role in the statue’s destruction. According to the Times, she said that she “hoped to trigger a broader reflection on cultural institutions’ role during the colonial period” and to draw attention to existing laws that some people consider to be “harsh and discriminatory.”

People have every right to hold and express any opinions they wish about colonialism, slavery, discrimination, or any other topic. But to steal and destroy a work of art is never OK. It is the ultimate in arrogance to presume that your beliefs give you the right to steal and destroy the property of others, particularly when the property in question is a beautiful and irreplaceable statue. Destroying a work of art is an act of aggression, not only against the institution or individual that owns it but also against the artist whose skills and hard work created it and anyone in the world who loves and admires it. Aggressing against others is not an acceptable way of starting a dialogue with them or inspiring reflection. It is ironic that this act of vandalism was motivated by a desire to protest against harsh and discriminatory laws. In my opinion, destroying a work of art is one of the harshest actions someone could take, and it is also discriminatory against people who do not share your beliefs.

The Academy Council, which owned the bust, condemned its destruction and implored people not to impose the norms of the present on people from the past. An opinion piece in the Danish newspaper Berlingske wrote: “The methods of identity politics are intolerance, exclusion, cancel culture, and physical destruction.” It described the mindset as “nothing must be left, everything existing must be leveled.”

This is 100% correct. Hypocritically, it is the people who profess to value tolerance and inclusion who are the most exclusive and intolerant. It is the people who profess to value kindness, justice, and human decency who perpetrate vicious acts of destruction against those with whom they disagree. 

Art history professor Mathias Danbolt, according to the NYT article, criticized people who use “the logic of deflection” and complained that “the scandal is never about the visual, political or cultural history of colonialism” but instead about the destruction of the statues. I disagree with his take. The destruction of statues and other priceless works of art is the real problem. To treat it as such is not deflection, but recognition of how truly heinous and atrocious it is. History contains a nearly infinite number of people and events, some good, some bad, some just, some unjust, and some in between. In my opinion, no event in history compares in brutality, injustice, and sheer awfulness to the statue genocide perpetrated during 2020 and 2021. Most people likely disagree with me on this. If you consider colonialism and slavery to be bigger problems than statue genocide, you have a right to your opinions, but I have a right to mine as well. It is not deflection to have a different opinion about which injustices are the most worthy of criticism and condemnation.

bookmark_borderOn “moving on” and “getting over it”

Something that I hear a lot with regards to statues and the historical figures that they represent, and really any issue on which people have differing opinions, is “move on,” “get over it,” or “let it go.” People say this when they think someone is not justified in feeling the way they do. Consider, for example, the beheading of Boston’s statue of Christopher Columbus and the resulting decision to move the statue to a less prominent location. When people have voiced anger, grief, and/or dismay about these events, we have been told to let the statue go, to move on, and instead to focus on choosing a replacement statue to honor Boston’s Italian-American community.

This way of responding to someone’s concerns is arrogant, patronizing, and lacking in empathy.

First of all, when someone is upset, that person cannot simply decide not to be upset anymore and then immediately cease being upset. That is not how emotions work. When people feel strongly about an issue, they are going to have strong emotions about that issue. People who love a statue and the historical figure it represents are going to be filled with grief and rage when the statue is destroyed. The grieving process takes time; a person cannot simply stop being angry and sad because another person has instructed them to do so. By telling another person to “get over” or “let go of” something they are upset about, one is dictating what the timeline of another person’s grieving process should be. This demand is illogical and unreasonable.

In addition to being impossible, the idea of “moving on,” “getting over it,” or “letting go” is not even desirable. Those who tell other people to do these things are presuming the truth of their own opinion and the illegitimacy of the other person’s opinion. The reason why numerous Italian-Americans such as myself are upset about the Columbus statue being destroyed and removed is because we like the statue and think that its destruction and removal are bad things. Specifically, we are outraged by the fact that an act of vandalism was allowed to decide the fate of the statue, and we believe it is unjust to reward the vandal(s) in this way. The “move on” crowd clearly doesn’t think the removal of the statue is that bad, or at least doesn’t feel as strongly about it as we do. But why is their opinion any more legitimate than ours? Why is it necessarily more correct to be indifferent about the statue’s fate than to be outraged and upset about it? If the act of vandalism and the city’s response were actually wrong (which I believe they were), then being outraged and upset is the morally correct response, and it is those who feel indifferent who should reconsider their reaction.

I love Christopher Columbus. I think he was an admirable and fascinating person, and he captures my imagination more than almost any other historical figure. I do not have these same feelings towards Sacco and Vanzetti, Mayor Thomas Menino, or a generic Italian immigrant or family of immigrants, all of which have been suggested as possible replacement statues. Why should I move on from a statue and historical figure that I love, to a statue about which I feel complete indifference?

Perhaps at some point, my grief and rage at the loss of the Columbus statue will become bearable. Perhaps one day my love of Columbus will be a source of joy, and I will take solace in reading about his life and honoring him through artwork of my own, instead of being tormented by agonizing psychological pain every day because of what was done to him. But I will never stop loving Columbus. I will never feel excited or happy about the construction of a politically correct, non-controversial, meaningless statue for which I feel no affinity.

In short, when you tell another person to “move on,” “get over it,” or “let go,” you are essentially telling them to stop having their opinion and instead to adopt your opinion. You are telling them to stop caring about the things that they care about, and instead to start caring about the things that you care about. You are telling them to stop loving the thing that they love and instead to love the thing that you love. It’s hard to imagine a greater lack of empathy than that.

bookmark_borderCovid restrictions getting worse, not better

Like almost everyone in the world, I’ve made adjustments to my daily life and routines because of the Covid pandemic. For the most part, I’m willing to do this. I switched from eating at restaurants a couple of times a week to supporting restaurants through takeout and (weather permitting) outdoor dining. I’m fine with carrying a mask with me and putting it on before I go into a store, business, train station, or bus. Working from home and the cancellation of most social events have actually been huge benefits for me.

But I am concerned by the recent trend of Covid restrictions becoming worse, not better. In November, for example, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker decided to require people to wear masks at all times when out in public (before, people were only required to wear masks when going inside stores or businesses). This week, the CDC implemented a law requiring everyone in the country to wear masks at all times while riding public transportation. This includes trains, buses, train and bus stations, airplanes, airports, taxis, Ubers, Lyfts, and ferries. And not just any kind of mask: the order specifies that people must wear a face covering that attaches to your head with ear loops or ties, making scarves, bandanas, and gaiters (as well as face shields) inadequate. Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts are even recommending wearing two masks at once

These new restrictions significantly affect my day-to-day life in negative ways. Baker’s rule effectively makes it illegal to eat or drink while out and about, which prevents me from (legally) drinking my coffee while walking back from my daily coffee run. In addition to the fact that the CDC’s implementation of a law completely defies the Constitution, flies in the face of states’ rights and separation of powers, and defeats the purpose of having three branches of government, the public transportation mask rule creates logistical difficulties as well. Since the cold weather arrived, a scarf has been my face covering of choice because it can easily be pulled up when I approach a store, business, or train station, but worn as a normal scarf when I am walking down the street by myself, illicitly drinking my coffee. The new rule requires me to take off my winter hat, secure a mask around my ears, and put my hat back on, all while walking towards the train station. Wearing two masks, as is increasingly being recommended, would be twice as much work to put on and take off and would make it twice as difficult to breathe. 

To complain about such things might sound petty and silly, especially when compared with the suffering of those who have become seriously ill, and even passed away, from Covid. But they add up to significant quality of life issues and represent an encroachment by the government upon my right to use my own judgment about what precautions to take. I’m willing to follow rules if they are fair, reasonable, and make sense. But many Covid restrictions are none of these things. This is even more the case when the restrictions become increasingly strict, burdensome, and difficult to comply with. I don’t mind making adjustments, but what is not okay is when I make adjustments, become used to the new requirements, and then learn that the government added more requirements and I need to make more adjustments. The government should be appreciative of the efforts that people are making to reduce the spread of the virus, but instead, it is telling people that what they are doing is not good enough. Insatiable for control over people’s lives, it is demanding more and more and more. 

The government and public health experts promised that vaccines would bring a return to “normal” life. I do not expect a return to crowded bars, concerts, and packed sports stadiums immediately, but with vaccines rolling out, the restrictions should logically be starting to lift, or at least be staying the same, as opposed to getting worse. The constantly changing restrictions are demoralizing, disturbing, and frustrating and harm the credibility of the government and so-called experts. 

bookmark_borderThe real double standard between Capitol and BLM protests

One of the most disturbing and infuriating things I’ve ever witnessed is the media’s and society’s promulgation of the myth that the pro-Trump protesters at the U.S. Capitol were somehow treated more leniently than Black Lives Matter protesters have been. This is one of the most blatantly false ideas I have ever heard, and it has been expressed over and over again, ad nauseam, by people across all forms of media and social media.

Coverage of the recent happenings at the Capitol is so offensive to me that I haven’t been able to read and analyze a huge amount of articles on this topic. But this article by USA Today provides an overview of the BLM/Capitol protest comparisons made by various public figures. I am going to attempt to explain why these comments and statements are wrong and unjust.

The article itself describes how during the BLM protests last spring and summer, “law enforcement often clashed with demonstrators, deploying tear gas and rubber bullets, bruising faces and bodies, and, in one incident that went viral, pushing an elderly man to the ground.” Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, gave a similar characterization of events: “When Black folks are protesting and progressives are protesting peacefully they were tear-gassed, they were arrested, they were shot with rubber bullets. They were shot with real bullets. We should not be witnessing what we are witnessing today in this nation. It’s a global embarrassment. None of this took place.”

This, to use a very technical philosophy term, is complete and utter baloney. First of all, no Black Lives Matter protesters have been shot by police. Johnson’s reference to being “shot with real bullets” seems to refer to the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, a counter-protestor who killed two BLM protesters in defense of himself and local business owners whose property the protesters were destroying. Because Rittenhouse was a private citizen and not a police officer, this shooting has no relevance to the topic of the respective police responses to the BLM and Capitol protests. Additionally, how can Johnson claim with a straight face, with regard to tear gas and arrests, that “none of this took place”? Over 100 of the pro-Trump protesters were, indeed, arrested and charged with crimes, and over 200 are being investigated by the FBI for federal felonies such as sedition and conspiracy. Suspects have been hunted down all over the country, and law enforcement is widely publicizing surveillance footage in an attempt to identify even more suspects. Not to mention the fact that one of the protesters, Ashli Babbitt, was killed by a police officer, and two more protesters lost their lives due to mysterious causes during the conflict with police. And all of this despite the fact that the actions of the BLM protesters – destroying countless innocent people’s businesses and countless beautiful, irreplaceable historical statues – were vastly more deserving of punishment than the actions of the pro-Trump protesters at the Capitol. Johnson is (kind of) right about one thing: how leniently BLM protesters have been treated compared to pro-Trump protesters is indeed a global embarrassment.

On a similar note, Bernice King, the daughter of MLK, tweeted: “If this were Black Lives Matter storming the Capitol, tanks would have been in the city by now. The response tells the story of our nation’s racist history and present.” There is absolutely no evidence that tanks would have responded to a hypothetical protest in which BLM protesters entered the Capitol, and the leniency with which such protesters have been treated as they smashed, decapitated, and burned priceless works of art all across the country for months is strong evidence against King’s claim.

Adding to the ridiculousness, CNN commentator Van Jones tweeted: “Imagine if #BlackLivesMatter were the ones who were storming the Capitol building. Thousands of black people laying siege to the seat of government – in the middle of a joint session of Congress? Just imagine the reaction.” I can indeed imagine the reaction. It would not have involved a protester being shot to death by police. It would not have involved hundreds of protesters (or any protesters, for that matter) being hunted down, arrested, and charged with federal crimes. Instead, it would have involved those protesters being unanimously praised as brave, selfless, and heroic by the media, politicians, and society.

Joe Biden voiced similar sentiments, saying, “No one can tell me that if that had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol.” And Rep. Marcia Fudge claimed, “There is a double standard.” These statements are indeed true, but in the opposite way from what the speakers intended. As a side note, there is also a double standard in terms of how presidents are treated by the media and by society. Why is it that Biden has received zero criticism for referring to protesters who disagree with him as a “mob of thugs,” while Trump was ruthlessly attacked as unprofessional and un-presidential for far less insulting rhetoric?

“We have witnessed two systems of justice: one that let extremists storm the U.S. Capitol yesterday, and another that released tear gas on peaceful protestors last summer,” tweeted Kamala Harris. “It’s simply unacceptable.” Actually, the two systems of justice that we have witnessed are one that let people smash beautiful statues to pieces and another that hunted down and arrested hundreds of people, and killed one person, for entering the Capitol building. These disparate systems of justice are indeed unacceptable, but in the opposite way from what Harris meant.

“It’s not any shock that we see this huge contradiction that we can storm a capitol, break into elected officials’ offices, the chamber, and create other chaos trying to perform a fascist coup, and we see little to no consequences,” said activist Kofi Ademola. “But Black protesters here in D.C. and Chicago, we’re heavily policed, brutalized, for literally saying, ‘Don’t kill us.’ There was no planned insurrections. We were literally just advocating for our lives. It speaks volumes about the values of this country. It doesn’t care about our lives.”

This statement is preposterous. As I have already explained, one protestor who entered the Capitol was shot to death and hundreds were hunted down, arrested, and charged with federal crimes. Even the thousands of pro-Trump protesters who made no attempt to enter the Capitol have been shunned as pariahs, fired from their jobs, and received death threats. How can Ademola claim that this constitutes “little to no consequences”? Nothing could be further from the truth. His claim that the pro-Trump protesters were “trying to perform a fascist coup” is equally ridiculous. Countless photos and videos show the protesters carrying Gadsden flags and Confederate flags, emblems of rebellion, liberty, and resistance to authority. This alone is sufficient to prove that the protesters were attempting the exact opposite of a fascist coup. The protesters at the Capitol are the true anti-fascists, ironically a distinction that the left-wing group Antifa claims to hold. Also ridiculous is Ademola’s claim that BLM protesters were “literally just advocating for our lives.” BLM protesters have destroyed countless businesses, buildings, and statues. In what universe is advocating for the destruction of other people’s property and precious works of art considered the same thing as advocating for one’s life? This country certainly seems to care about the lives of these protesters, given the fact that it allows them to brutalize works of art all across the country without making any attempt to stop them or punish them in any way.

And the Black Lives Matter Global Network said in a statement: “When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets. When white people attempt a coup, they are met by an underwhelming number of law enforcement personnel who act powerless to intervene, going so far as to pose for selfies with terrorists, and prevent an escalation of anarchy and violence like we witnessed today. Make no mistake, if the protesters were Black, we would have been tear-gassed, battered, and perhaps shot.”

The last statement is false for reasons that I have explained above and also completely ignores that fact that one of the pro-Trump protesters, Ashli Babbitt, actually was shot. The characterization of BLM protesters as protesting “for our lives” is inaccurate for reasons that I have also explained above. Additionally, the reference to “white people attempt[ing] a coup” is not only false but also racist. The pro-Trump protest comprised people of all races. (For example, a picture in this gallery from the aftermath of the protest shows a baseball cap that reads “Black Voices for Trump.”)

So in conclusion, there is indeed an inconsistency between the reactions of law enforcement, as well as the media, tech companies, and society in general, to the BLM protests versus the pro-Trump protest in Washington, D.C. The double standard is precisely the opposite of what most people think it is. Seeing mobs brutally destroy beautiful works of art representing historical heroes with almost complete impunity, and then seeing pro-liberty protesters being hunted down, arrested, personally insulted, ostracized, fired, and slandered as fascists and terrorists for standing up to government overreach, is so unjust that it makes my soul cry out in agony.