Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen asks: "Coronavirus & covid-19: Is this how freedom dies?"
I like Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen, because he is even-tempered, reasonable / rational, and thoughtful. I like other YouTube videocasters, too, but folks like Dr. Steve Turley can sometimes be a little too bombastic and ebullient, and Marcus Follin (a.k.a. "The Golden One") a little too narcissistic (although he's gotten better since becoming a father), for me to take in large doses. But Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen seems like a guy I'd love to sit in the woods with, by a campfire, sipping coffee and talking about these things.
And we do indeed live in troubling times! At this writing, many things in my home state are closed down – schools, government offices, gyms, bars, restaurants (except carryout) – and the Federal authorities are recommending avoiding gatherings with more than 10 people. I am willing to accept that we need to deal with certain restrictions on movement, on gathering, etc., while the authorities try to get a handle on this virus.
And there are enough different countries affected, with enough different types of governments, on enough different locations on the political spectrum, and enough responsible, respectable medical personnel involved – and genuinely concerned – that I do not think this is a hoax, or a tempest in a teapot.
I'd rather us do more than necessary, and it end up looking (at least here in the States, as it's already been pretty bad in some other countries) like – as one commentator put it – "a great big nothing-burger" than to have us not take it seriously enough, and it ends up killing thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or more people. To that end, I'm willing to put up with a good bit of inconvenience, even frustration.
I am more concerned, as Bull-Hansen says, with what comes after. The government – the various governments – have now had, for the first time in a very long time, probably since the end of World War Two (a conflict with a very specific enemy, or group of enemies, and a very specific end-point), experience with imposing curfews, travel restrictions, restrictions on the size of assemblies, and so on. And like the war on terrorism, a war on viruses does not have a clear end-point. You can't have a ceremony on a battleship to sign a peace treaty ending a war with a disease.
So, the government has, in a sense, tasted blood. Like a sheep-killing dog, are they going to be able to go back to being the family pet? Something they haven't been, for a very long time, anyway! Not since the 1860s, at least. What will be the next excuse? Or the next, to all appearances, legitimate reason? I'm a historian. Most dictatorships, most authoritarian forms of government, don't come into being without what are initially good reasons, or what seem to be good reasons. But once the camel's nose is in the tent...
Well. As Bull-Hansen put it, "we need to be alert, vigilant. We need to think for ourselves. We will be tested in the days, weeks, and months to come." Beyond that... we'll see.