RALEIGH – You might think that, even though metro-papers like the Raleigh News & Observer have a decided tilt to the Left, that writers could look at the protests against economically ruinous ‘Stay-at-Home’ orders with sympathy. People whose businesses and livelihoods have been chained to a sinking stone, leaving them in fear for how they’ll make it, and thinking it their right to cut this chain and navigate the uncertain waters however they see fit. You’d be very wrong, at least, when it comes to N&O editorial writer Ned Barnett.
No, in an op-ed focusing on the Reopen NC protest held Tuesday, Barnett says he doesn’t understand them. He titled it, “A protest against common sense.” Dripping with resentment, he boxes all those that attended the rally as, “overwhelmingly white, skeptical of all authority, but accepting of the president’s self-declared perfection,” before blaming the epidemic on Trump’s ineptitude. All familiar talking points for those that hate Trump, his supporters, and anyone that dares question the collective consensus de jour.
From the op-ed:
“Moral Monday protesters once regularly marched on North Carolina’s Legislative Building demanding better teacher pay and Medicaid expansion. Now we have people who plan to protest every Tuesday against the mandatory business closures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
You might call their movement Mortal Tuesdays, a protest that calls to mind a twisted version of New Hampshire’s state motto – “Breathe mask-free and die.” Protesters turned out for the rally on Tuesday, a few hundred, sign-toting, flag-waving, horn-honking people declaring their opposition to the “tyranny” of Gov. Roy Cooper, whose stay-at-home order has made him guilty of saving lives.
The protest, dubbed Reopen NC, is part of a national drive to lift stay-at-home orders that have kept many businesses closed and caused a huge increase in unemployment. The restlessness is understandable. The protests are not. […]”
Is it any wonder why Ned doesn’t understand these protests? The sanctimony overflows from the get go(‘Cooper is only guilty of saving lives’). Through out the entire piece his only acknowledgement of the crux of this cause is that, ‘The restlessness is understandable.’ He then suggests that demonstrating exactly how restless you are to get back to earning a living, paying vital bills, and maybe even some food on the table is stupid, reckless, and worse.
He says the ‘Reopen’ is dumb, because the economy won’t simply spring back to it’s prior state over night, noting the obvious, that people will be reluctant and cautious and take their own time to feel safe resuming normal commerce. Exactly the kind of cautious, responsible approach these protestors are calling for, so they can maintain their livelihoods while evaluating best practices for safety on their own accord. For this, Barnett dismisses the marchers as merely egged on by “Internet conspiracy theorists, right-wing groups and President Trump.”
That’s entirely possible; or, very many of them could be ‘egged on’ by the fact that their business was shuttered on governor’s orders and they’d like the liberty to not go into bankruptcy. Barnett never even alludes to this reality. He might have found it enlightening to speak with some of the people there, not just watch for the loudest and most unbecoming confirmations of his view on the matter.
He closes the tone deaf op-ed with the Left’s classic coronavirus collectivism:
“[…] The great majority of North Carolinians still support the scientists and their government leaders who are urging restraint. They are committed to common sacrifice and mutual care. And they, in their great absence Tuesday, support the hope that the people of this state and the United States will prevail in this together, despite those who are noisily deserting from the common effort. […]”
Barnett signals the virtue of the pro-shutdown positions as committed to common sacrifice and mutual care. Ah, this is interesting because many of the protestors were rightly pointing out that executive orders mandating ‘common sacrifice and mutual care’ are not consistent with individual rights and responsibility upon which our entire nation is founded.
This is what usually frustrates Barnett, and collectivists like him, when he sees a boisterous crowd carrying a Gadsen flag. Here again, the antipathy is notable as laments those who won’t simply bow down to the collective.
This language, this call for individual sacrifice to the collective, the shaming of those daring to desert ‘the common effort’ is very similar to the kind of language used in communist dictatorships. The People’s Republic of North Korea makes calls for common sacrifice (like going without food) in the name of the collective good. The North Korean regime focuses heavily on shaming, jailing, or killing those that dare question the collective. Similar cultural dichotomies exist in communist China.
That’s not to say those against the protests and for the shutdowns are on par with North Korean dictators, they most definitely are not, but it is quite instructive to analyze the core ideas being expressed during this surreal time. Barnett and others have openly adopted a collectivist viewpoint that is more consistent with the basis of communism than the understanding of individual liberty that forms the core of the American idea.
This struggle about much more than a novel coronavirus.