COVID-19, Riots, and Individual Liberty
Russ Chastain 06.08.20
Disclaimer: This is simply one man’s opinion.
As the USA and the world at large experienced historic widespread lockdowns in response to the perceived threat of coronavirus / COVID-19, responses from individuals were broad and widely varied. Many believed it overblown and frankly insane. Others soaked up all the fear which their governments and mass media poured out in record doses, and shrank into their homes, afraid to go out. Most fell somewhere in between.
A most interesting shift occurred as time passed. Some doubters began to take it more seriously, while some believers eased up in their fear. And as even more time went by and it became clear that this was anything but a pandemic, most citizens began to see the shutdown for what it really is: A huge infringement on their freedom to assemble, to move about unencumbered, to do just about anything liberty-related.
Citizens were told that these lockdowns would “flatten the curve” so a large outbreak wouldn’t overwhelm our medical infrastructure. But time passed and there was never a curve at all in most areas, and bans on “elective” medical procedures led to massive layoffs of medical personnel who had no work to do.
As this happened I noticed more of my Facebook friends and associates became more outspoken about individual liberties. This includes many who previously were perfectly happy with any government response to anything, as long as their candidate was residing in the White House. Trumpsters and Obamaholics alike are simply followers of a cult of personality, which is always dangerous to liberty.
But the COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions began to awaken many, pricking their consciences to push back against instruments of government control such as bans on non-risk activities like hiking or going to the beach — and most especially against sweeping regulations such as mandatory mask-wearing in public places, even as the number of new COVID-19 cases shrank. Growing concern for economic damage due to government’s forced closure of private businesses began to place more pressure on elected officials to lift the bans.
At that juncture, when chronic news-watchers had had it up to their eyeballs with coronavirus and mask-wearing, what should occur? Riots, looting, widespread destruction and theft — all illuminated by the national spotlight and thrust into our collective face. It began as a well-justified protest against police brutality, but perhaps some “crisis engineers” were looking for any cause to serve their purpose… and George Floyd’s death was an opportunity.
The result? All or most of those people who’d been recently awakening to the importance of individual liberties were suddenly in favor of further militarizing our already-army-like law enforcement communities and even using our actual military forces against their fellow citizens. Even more disturbing was the fact that many folks who’d been self-described libertarians for years began advocating violent military response to riots and looting.
In other words (in my opinion): At the moment when an engineered crisis intended to expand government control and shrink individual freedom was being recognized for what it is, another crisis arose to turn public opinion away from liberty and toward even wider government control. It doesn’t take a tin foil hat to see that for what it is.
Private Problem, Private Solution
Folks who are not in favor of using government resources and personnel to abuse and kill criminals as they run amok with looting/burning/vehicle-smashing crowds are viewed with horror. Don’t we want looting to stop? (Yes.) Are we okay with looting and riots? (No.) Are we crazy insane leftist Democrats? (Mostly no.)
Most of us who object to such things are able to view this situation for what it is: A private problem.
Violent, destructive gangs are stealing from private companies and burning stores owned by private entities.
Who should protect such businesses? Their owners, of course. Not police, not the National Guard.
Private problems require private solutions… such as the Korean business owners who armed themselves with guns and successfully defended their property during the Los Angeles riots in 1992.
Police can’t — and shouldn’t be expected to — protect your home, vehicle, or business from harm. Police exist to hopefully punish guilty people after crimes have occurred. While the Department of Justice states that police exist “to prevent crime and disorder,” our law enforcement officers are usually not effective preventers of crime — especially during periods of social unrest — and I for one do not wish them to be equipped for large-scale control of the populace.
Should you legally arm yourself? You betcha. And if you own a business anywhere near a scheduled riot, you should surround it with armed security personnel and defend what’s yours to the best of your ability.
Police can’t, and the military shouldn’t.
You should. Legally and without violence, if at all possible. After all, the mere presence of a gun is often enough to prevent crime.
I predict that widespread private defense of businesses would swiftly end the looting and return focus to the actual issues. After all, a chance at free TVs will always motivate certain people to “protest,” while the possibility of taking a bullet tends to keep them at home.
Perhaps then we as a nation can get back to discussing the importance of individual liberty and how to regain it without further bloodshed.
That’s how this guy sees it, anyhow.