I can’t decide which is the more dispiriting element of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic; the fact that so many local authorities in America and Britain are letting their inner authoritarian out for an untrammeled romp while sanctimoniously insisting that it’s all for our own good whether we like it or not (or agree or not), that a large number of ordinary citizens are falling all over themselves in volunteering to inform on neighbors who are doing nothing more than going for more than one walk a day, visiting a park or beach, or exercising in their front garden, and that representatives of our National Media Establishment are as malicious a set of scurvy, biased, panic-sowing incompetents as ever crawled out of a journalism school armed with delusions of adequacy along with the degree. Age 27 and know absolutely nothing, as Ben Rhodes remarked.
I had come to expect absolutely nothing but cheap, dangerous, badly-made and soon to fail products out of China, so there was nothing much new there. All these other listed shortcomings had been rather suspected for a while; but seeing them confirmed in the broad light of day is … discouraging. There were people and institutions of whom I had thought and expected better of … now revealed in all their shabby disgrace as incipient fascists, natural toadies and cheap propagandists.
The main trouble is, as Sarah Hoyt suggested, that we actually know so very little for certain about the Wuhan coronavirus, since it was loosed upon the world, and of what information is out there, so much is suspect; straight dope, speculation, rumor, tentative conclusion, or hair-on-fire panic-mongering. We – and they just don’t know! We cannot trust the scientific and medical minds, nor our politicians, or our media experts. We have little reason to trust anyone representing to speak with authority since we suspect, with good reason, that they know very little more for certain than we do.
They all have an agenda – and with our political leaders, the agenda increasingly looks more like control … not only control of the Wuhan coronavirus, but control of us. Yes, it was probably a good thing to close down schools; at the best of times, a petri dish of infectious cruds, which school kids invariably bring home to afflict their parents and older kin – many of whom do have underlying conditions. One of the things that we do know for certain is that compromised health and advanced old age do not combine well with a case of the Wuhan flu, or a case serious enough to merit medical attention. The other thing known for certain is that many of those who have contracted the Wuhan coronavirus had either mild or no symptoms at all yet could have spread it without even realizing they were afflicted; rather like the regular yearly flu, as it happens. So – social distancing, masks, quarantine of those diagnosed, possibly exposed, or at risk, even restricting large gatherings in confined indoor spaces … probably a sensible solution for a short term.
But arbitrarily confining everyone to their homes, indefinitely? Closing stores right and left, dictating what counts as necessary supplies – and going so far as to rope off store aisles to prevent purchase of so-called “non-essential items” (non-essential in whose judgement, pray tell?), or police officers (as happened in a couple of cases in England) rule on the contents of a supermarket shopping cart? Impose fines on those attending a drive-in church service, or go out paddle-boarding in the ocean, threaten to close city parks, surveille and harass people walking in or playing softball in the park – even while maintaining proper social distance? No – that is not prevention; that is punishment – capricious punishment for not making a proper show of submission to authority. How much longer can we stand this, out and away from the epicenters of Wuhan coronavirus cases? Discuss as you wish and can bear it.