Two Years To Slow The Spread
March 15, 2020, is a date permanently emblazoned on many of our minds. It was the day the world unilaterally shut down everything for the two weeks of isolation we were told would slow the spread of Covid-19.
Then, of course, two years happened. What has changed since the beginning of the pandemic? Unsurprisingly, not much.
Lockdowns are over, for the most part, though they remain a threat as long as emergency powers can be extended at the sole will of the executive, with no legislature to check them. We know this because we’ve seen cities go in and out of curfews with the slope of the viral spread, no matter how many times the strategy has proven ineffective. The pushback from the American people was such that another sweeping shutdown over Covid-19 like the one we saw in early 2020 is less likely, but that doesn’t mean a sweeping shutdown over a new illness, variant, war, or some other cause for a state of emergency, is not a real possibility. We are quick to forget.
Vaccine passports: Remember when they were called fake news? And then they became reality as a handful of the largest American cities ordered restaurants to check your hospital records before allowing you to dine indoors. While most cities have rolled back their vaccine mandates, a wave offering to Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson remains a condition of employment for several large sectors of the workforce today, including most hospitals, the city of New York, and the United States Department of Defense.
Masks, too, continue to ebb and flow with the seasons, and while most of the middle of the country hasn’t worn them consistently since mid-2020, they remain a permanent fixture on trains, planes, and buses, because…something. Even the U.K. ended its mask mandate on airlines, but the United States refuses to surrender. Considering we still take off our shoes to go through security, with the exception of those frequent flyers who have paid the lords of pre-check to keep theirs on, it’s not unreasonable to expect that airplane mask mandates are here to stay. Perhaps eventually we can buy the equivalent of pre-check for face coverings, and free our faces for a fee of $84.99 every five years.
It’s hard to see what sort of push could clear the dregs of Covidism, now that most of us have been returned enough of our stolen liberties to forget about the others. From the beginning, the unequal application of the pandemic state has meant that those who would fight it are divided from one another, sequestered remnants not making as loud a noise.
And speaking of things that haven’t changed, the argument that it’s only a mask, what’s the big deal? has resurfaced now that things are looking more normal. This line of thinking has always missed the point. The point is not that these rules are so difficult to follow, but that they have no meaning, no attachment to reality. When we follow them, we participate in the falsehood. A people that does this, that can be bent into compliance with a falsehood by so many petty tyrants, is unfit to call itself free.
Whether we remain free, then, is proven not just by our getting out of pandemic-era falsehoods, but by whether we can prevent them from returning.