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  • Richard Farr

Alice in Freedumland

Jefferson's house has been set on fire. Ignorance is one of the chief accelerants. But perhaps that cuts two ways.

(1) At the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, a protester holds a sign accusing State Governor Gretchen Witmer of being a Fascist. The evidence, apparently, is not that Witmer supports dictators or despises democracy or scoffs at the rule of law but that she is enforcing strict policies on social distancing. In the front of the rally picture, two sad-sack man-boys clutch their big black high-capacity penis substitutes, posturing at patrolling for freedom-haters.

Meanwhile, at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, a Republican State Representative stands at a microphone - second penis as visible as possible in waistband (second picture in series) - and talks insurrection while encouraging the enthusiastic mass law-breaking of which he is a part. (Seeing such things is not good for me: I find myself wishing that he would shoot his own balls off, and then wondering whether perhaps the problem is that he has already done so.) In a photo of the crowd (fourth picture in series), a woman holds a sign referring to Governor Inslee as IDIOT ENSLEE - which just goes to show that in tough times we must find our irony where we can. In another (first in series) a man is holding a sign informing us that "GOVERNMET ISN'T THE SOLUTION."

The signs makes you want to cry, really; the boys with toys make you want to cry too:

When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. - Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny. 

These people were lied to, and lied to, and lied to (by both political parties, for decades, even if the lies on one side were more cynical and more damaging than on the other). So they voted for someone who would shake things up. But of course he is not doing that: he was lying too, and has lied more than any of the others - and instead of rearranging the house he has set it on fire!

Worst of all: when you've been left out in the cold so long, and are ignorant of what has been done to you, the flames feel delightfully warm.

Looking at these pictures, I try but fail to take some shred of comfort from a further irony. Maybe some of the "freedom lovers" who also love our Fascism-curious President won't be all that competent at Fascism? That swastika on the Witmer poster: it's the wrong way round.


(2) BUT... BUT... BUT. In all the ignorance and self-delusion there is this one grain of truth. On one side of the ledger, there is all the damage that has been, could have been, or could still be done by the virus. On the other, there is all the damage being done by the social distancing measures themselves. And, while policy on distancing is being created and enforced exclusively by people who are middle-class, the most damaging and frightening side-effects of those policies, including health-and-life-threatening levels of financial meltdown, are being suffered almost exclusively by the nearly- or already-poor.

Sure, the real guilt here lies with Mikhail McConnelski (R-Lucre) and the Grand Ol' Pit of Corruption generally. If the Democrats ("Fascists!") were in power, Trump's supporters would be way better off in this disaster than they are. Still, as I've mentioned before, I think it's telling that there is so little discussion of cost-benefit. More people will die if we open the economy back up. But more people will die of suicide, domestic abuse, other medical problems that were treatable, and crime, and even outright hunger, if we don't. The policy-makers seem to be missing that, so far. There are two epidemics here, and one is just getting started.


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