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.
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.
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