After attacking civil liberties for two decades, the right now pretends to care
For a country that is one of the world’s leading democracies, the United States certainly has a government vested with alarming potentially tyrannical powers: assassination of American citizens by executive order, indefinite detention without charge or trial, a sprawling surveillance state that collects data on virtually everyone in the world, and a security apparatus that can be deployed nationwide to infiltrate and suppress dissent, to name a few. All of this could, in the hands of a semi-competent authoritarian leader, be used to seize power and establish a nightmarish totalitarian state.
If you are a right-wing media or a politician, however, none of this is a problem. Rather, the real threat to freedom and democracy is the life-saving vaccine developed to fight the pandemic that has claimed at least 677,000 American lives in the past year and a half. Since Joe Biden ordered a nationwide vaccination warrant to increase the country’s declining vaccination rate and prevent the thousands of deaths that occur every day, the GOP and their allied media suddenly transformed into the ACLU, warning of the mandate’s threat to civil liberties and the country’s imminent slide into fascism.
Just like with freedom of speech, the American right has made a strategic choice to defend a principle (the protection of civil liberties) to which it has long been hostile, in this case in the context of a weird mission To to kill his own voters. And just like with free speech, the defense of civil liberties by the right is extremely selective and unprincipled, all prominent conservatives are now complaining about authoritarianism after having encouraged or pursued various attacks on fundamental freedoms, or are remained silent when they happened.
Take the funded billionaire Federalist, an online magazine so campaigning for freedom of expression that it publishers will block you on Twitter if you ask them where they get their money from. The output instantly judge the vaccine mandates a “fascist movement”, its political editor, John Daniel Davidson, following a particularly on top statement that “the September 11 attacks turned out to be a lesser threat to America than the totalitarian left”.
Confusing the centrist liberalism of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party with the left, Davidson explained that “when a regime uses state power to force big business to uphold its mandates. . . this is the real fascism of textbooks. He said other pandemic restrictions put in place by officials were “an unprecedented expansion of the rule by executive order.”
Given this kind of talk, one might think that the Federalist would have a lot to say about the various alarming expansions of executive and state power that resulted from these same terrorist attacks. Take, for example, the drone assassination of Barack Obama of several US citizens without due process, which he justified in 2014 in a note that claimed the right to do so anywhere on Earth.
Is execution by decree worth at least the same concern as forcing people to get vaccinated or wear masks?
Apparently no, because the Federalist never bothered to mention this act, the most tyrannical power possible a government could claim. The media only spoke about one of those murdered US citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki, in the context of what a scary man it was, implicitly justifying the policy.
You can pretty much go through the list of examples of breaches of civil liberties – violating the reach of government in recent history and find the same results. Legislation attacking Americans’ right to boycott a repressive foreign government? They are all for. State laws criminalizing the right to protest? It’s A-OK. Close Guantanamo Bay? “An affront to Congress and the Constitution. “George W. Bush’s blatantly illegal, warrantless and secret phone-tapping scheme? Why it was simply a “program designed to mitigate terrorist threats in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks”.
The Federalist is just the most vivid example of this hypocrisy. Right-wing radio host Todd Starnes called the mandate “a direct attack on the US Constitution, it was a direct attack on our civil liberties and personal freedoms” and “half-expected to see tanks and armored vehicles roll in the streets”.
Starnes is a perpetually aggrieved warrior of Bush-era culture who hasn’t quite got the memo to polish his rhetoric in recent years. So while the Federalist at least published the occasional room Criticizing some mass surveillance, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single example of Starnes expressing an iota of concern for the many violations of civil liberties and the Constitution based on national security over the past two decades. To be fair, it’s hard to find the time to do this when you’re doing critical work like whining. nude street performers Where school plays with adult themes, and being triggered by national anthem protests and supposedly offensive statements on the troops.
Likewise, despite BreitbartThe accusation that a vaccination warrant meant becoming “totally totalitarian”, the “platform for the alt-right”, in the words of its co-founder, had a muted response to the assassination of American citizens by Obama, as he did to the more recent attacks by Republicans on the right to protest, which he has barely covered. While it now proudly displays a “Covid-1984” tab on its home page, Breitbart previously applauded “War on terror” – technology and government censorship, and was almost entirely silent on the government’s crackdown on speech and protest known as the J20 holster, except for tacitly justify said the crackdown.
Special mention must go to Fox News, which accused Biden for being an “authoritarian” and a “tyrant” for issuing the warrant. It was the same network that, under Bush, became the zero point for vehement defenses of all the excesses of the government of the Bush era, of signature declarations To spy on Americans To wiretapping without warrant, a Fox policy was particularly enthusiastic In regards to.
Its hosts Many times accused the press to undermine national security by reporting these violations, even explicitly accusing groups like the ACLU of being terrorists themselves, and have sometimes made their own authoritarian recommendations, as when suggested Bush has set up a “Censorship Bureau” to deal with pesky reports of secret government surveillance programs. Not much changed when Obama stepped in and pushed counterterrorism policy in an even more extreme direction: the network simply load with being too soft on terrorism.
You will find the same results among Republican officials trying to make political hay for the vaccine’s “fascist” mandate, all of whom were hostile to free speech and other civil liberties until this single measure came along. Here is, for example, a brief summary of the recordings of a sample of the GOP governors who now courageously oppose the government’s supposedly dangerous scope on the vaccine mandate:
- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who said the mandate “will bring the federal government even further into our lives” signed in law tougher criminal penalties for protesters and protection for those who knocked them down just three months ago.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who ruled the mandate “unconstitutional” and “very intrusive,” pushed for an anti-protest law to hostile to First Amendment freedoms that even some state law enforcement officials believed it went too far.
Then there’s someone like Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, who compared the mandate to the actions of a “dictator”. Since her election to the United States Congress in 2003, Blackburn has been one of the most trusted national security hawks in the country, rarely encountering a civil liberty she was unwilling to sacrifice or government overtaking she. was unwilling to support in the name of fighting terrorism. She strongly supported Bush’s policies throughout the 2000s, systematically voted to let the government spy on Americans, and has been a main opponent of attempts To close Guantanamo Bay.
It’s not that there isn’t sincere and bona fide concerns on the implications of a vaccination mandate. But such warrants have already been widely accepted for decades in the United States for other diseases, and pale in comparison to the blatant violations accepted for the purposes of the “war on terror.” The idea that they will lead to some sort of fascist takeover is even more absurd given that the Nazis relaxed vaccination mandates when they took power.
But more precisely, we must be deeply suspicious of the right because it claims to defend civil liberties by opposing this mandate. The erosion of the Bill of Rights and the strengthening of the government’s repressive powers have been a central project of the media and right-wing politicians, both in the recent past and now, and in which they have often been aided by Democrats like Biden, Obama, and Nancy Pelosi. Their opposition is now exacerbated by a narrow fear that, in the words of Todd Starnes, “the government of the United States can really dictate what you do as a private business owner.”
The same party that believed in “1 percent doctrine“- the idea that if there was even a 1% chance that a terrorist attack was real, the US government should treat it as if it were a certainty – decided that 176,000 corpses were “acceptable” two decades later when it came to a pandemic. When it is not about vaccines, or once it is their ruling team that violates civil liberties, the right will gladly resume its plan to move the country forward in an authoritarian direction.