Liberties: Where will it end? A very good question.

Liberties: Where will it end? A very good question.

Liberties watch, 8 April 2020

…we must regard the next week or so as a very impor­tant peri­od in our his­to­ry. It ranks with the days when the Span­ish Arma­da was approach­ing the Chan­nel and Drake was fin­ish­ing his game of bowls; or when Nel­son stood between us and Napoleon‘s Grand Army at Boulogne. We have read all about this in the his­to­ry books, but what is hap­pen­ing now is on a far greater scale and of far more con­se­quence to the life and future of the world and its civil­i­sa­tion than these brave old days of the past. —Win­ston S. Churchill on a cer­tain threat to lib­er­ties, 11 Sep­tem­ber 1940

Here at home…

The New Hamp­shire Lakes Region is remark­ably nor­mal. Lake Win­nipesaukee, pris­tine and beau­ti­ful, already has boats in the water. We vis­it the lake­side and feed the ducks, obliv­i­ous to it all. Ach, to be a duck….
The gov­er­nor has judi­cious­ly spec­i­fied many busi­ness­es that remain open. Of course, what works in NH may not work in NY. Thus, in a fed­er­al repub­lic, such deci­sions are best left to the states. The U.S. and Cana­da leave the bor­der open to com­mer­cial traf­fic. Our new elec­tric launch arrived from Mon­tre­al. Gro­ceries, super­mar­kets, nurs­eries are well stocked. Mechan­ics, auto parts stores, hard­ware and liquor stores (thank heav­en), are all open with pre­cau­tions. Our favorite cheese shop. Restau­rants and bistros do take-outs; the land­scap­ers with their metic­u­lous Puer­to Rican crews are mak­ing their annu­al vis­it, singing away.
And yet….
Mark Steyn rais­es inter­est­ing posers about lib­er­ties. Like, how will it end? Pre­sum­ably we will be told, at some future date, to return to “nor­mal.” What is nor­mal, he asks? Sup­pose then it flares up again? Fifty-one recov­ered South Kore­ans have test­ed pos­i­tive the sec­ond time round. Sup­pose a “recov­ered” fam­i­ly in Kansas flies up to Ida­ho for Thanks­giv­ing, and there’s a fresh bloom in Boise? The Span­ish Flu last­ed three years. We are told that the only true cure and end to this one is a vac­cine. Eigh­teen months away, they say.

Which begs a question…

We can­not afford to con­fide the safe­ty of our coun­try to the pas­sions or to the pan­ic of any for­eign nation which may be fac­ing some des­per­ate cri­sis. We must be inde­pen­dent [and free to] pre­serve our full lat­i­tude and dis­cre­tion of choice. In the past we have always had this free­dom and inde­pen­dence. I have heard reproach­es about the Lib­er­al Gov­ern­ment before the War, that they did not make enough prepa­ra­tions or look far enough ahead. But we were in a posi­tion where, at any rate, we had a com­plete free­dom of choice; much might be lost by delay. But, as far as the safe­ty of this coun­try was con­cerned, we were not in any dan­ger. We could hold our own here and take what time we chose to make up our minds, and what time we required. —Churchill, House of Com­mons, 8 March 1934
How many more lib­er­ties will we lose now? I’ve watched my sec­ond coun­try, The Bahamas, locked down by a blan­ket, one-size-fits-all emer­gency order that left the sparse­ly pop­u­lat­ed Out Islands with­out ready access to their hand­ful of gro­cery stores. (Since rescind­ed.) Intim­i­dat­ed, the local air­lines to just…stopped—stranding snow­birds unable to reach Nas­sau for flights home. We are grate­ful that we left in time.
What about Amer­i­ca? We’ve lost so many lib­er­ties since 9/11. We shuf­fle shoe­less through air­port check­points that have yet to expose a ter­ror­ist, because Richard Reid tried to blow up his shoe in 2001. Supine­ly we sub­mit to intru­sive body scans and rifled lug­gage. Minor stuff, we say. But there’s more. Our emails are read, our web pro­files ana­lyzed, by murky gov­ern­ment depart­ments. We can’t say cer­tain words with­out being flagged. In Britain, the aver­age com­muter is pho­tographed nine­teen times (not sure of the exact fig­ure) from door to workplace.

What’s next?

Already pet­ty tyran­nies are crop­ping up, Mr. Steyn reports. A Man­hat­tan mar­ried cou­ple who live togeth­er sit on a bench in Cen­tral Park. They are accost­ed by Author­i­ty and threat­ened with a sum­mons for not main­tain­ing a six-foot dis­tance. A shop man­ag­er in Eng­land chalks a six-foot line on the pave­ment, hop­ing to show cus­tomers how far apart to stand. A con­sta­ble accus­es her of graffiti.
It is not much of a leap to far more seri­ous nation­wide infringe­ments, all in the name of sav­ing us from our­selves. Maybe need­ed, maybe not. Admit­ted­ly, lead­er­ship has to walk a fine line between civ­il lib­er­ties and civ­il safe­ty. And com­mon sense is a scarce com­mod­i­ty. The Bahamas first clamped down when the Prime Min­is­ter was enraged by all the bod­ies on the beach­es, long after the alarms were sounded.
Will there be, must there be, anoth­er mas­sive bureau­cra­cy, autho­rized to to shut down our busi­ness­es, shut down our lives, with the same effi­cien­cy that TSA dis­cov­ers ter­ror­ists? Are remain­ing lib­er­ties worth pre­serv­ing? These are ques­tions worth pon­der­ing. I don’t know the answers. So I asked a wise man. I hope you lis­ten. Click here.


Far-called our navies melt away;
On dune and head­land sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nin­eveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of pow­er, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boast­ings as the Gen­tiles use,
Or less­er breeds with­out the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Rud­yard Kipling, 1897

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