- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2020

The most damaging and lasting effects of COVID-19 on America won’t be so much ones of physical or medical as they will be mental.

How so?

Where Americans once thought for themselves, the government has taken control. Where Americans once decided on their own, bureaucrats have seized the reins.

What’s worse is the government has successfully turned those who want to think for themselves into Public Enemy Number One.

Don’t want shut down your business, live off the taxpayer-funded stimulus dime, stay in your home, safely out of social distancing violators’ way? You’re selfish. You’re putting lives in danger. You have blood on your hands.

How dare you.

“Dallas salon owner jailed for reopening in violation of court order,” Dallas News just reported, about a woman, Shelley Luther, who defied local and state orders, judge’s restraining order, to open her Salon a la Mode to business this week.

She was also fined $7,000.

She was also treated to a sanctimonious scolding by the judge, who called her “selfish” for — well, for what? Trying to provide for her home and family?

Such is where COVID-19 madness has gone. 

Kudos to Luther, for responding to the judge with this brief statement: “Feeding my kids is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids,” she said.

But where’s the rest of America on this? Sure, the governor of Texas wrote the judge demanding Luther’s immediate release. Thank goodness on that.

Sure, there are pockets of freedom fighters out there. You see them outside the capitol in Michigan, in the streets of Boston, on the sidewalks of New York City, some social distancing, some not; some wearing face masks, some not; some exercising their Second Amendment rights; some not.

You see them at the beaches in California, defying executive orders — in the communities of New Hampshire, calling for a reopening of the economy. You see them with their “LIBERATE” hashtags on social media, their “don’t take our freedom” signs in spots from Virginia to New Hampshire to Colorado to Washington.

And that’s all well and good.

But this is what they’re getting in return: “Coronavirus protesters turn the American flag into a symbol of selfishness,” read one recent Los Angeles Times headline.

In other words: Fight for freedom — fight for a return to saner times — fight for the Constitution, for self-sufficiency, for any of the rights that have been long-cherished, long-held in this country as God-given — and that’s “selfish.”

That’s selfishly putting others in harm’s way — even though others still have the freedom to choose whether or not to go into supposed harm’s way. And so long as government bureaucrats declare there’s even the tiniest trickle of harm’s way out there — then all must abide by the government’s orders.

Else face the wrath of the groupthink.

A recent Los Angeles Times’ Letters to the Editor page included this excerpts: “[I]ncreasingly, I see the flag of our country becoming usurped by the right, corrupted into a symbol of anger, greed and mean-spiritedness,” wrote one, weighing in on COVID-19 protesters.

Another: “No one likes the economic shutdown, but I am sorry that whoever raised you made you believe that the world revolves around you, because (spoiler alert) it does not. … Insisting on your rights without acknowledging your responsibilities is not freedom, it is adolescence,” wrote another, speaking to the beach protesters in California.

The thing is people aren’t protesting so much for a return to frivolities. They’re protesting because they’re losing their businesses.

They’re protesting because they’re losing their jobs and incomes and savings and security nets.

They’re protesting because they’re losing their abilities to exercise their God-given freedoms.

They’re protesting, in some cases — in some sad and very sorry, pitifully sorrowful-filled cases — because they’re losing loved ones to suicide; they’re losing loved ones to alcoholism and drug addiction fueled by stay-at-home orders; they’re reeling from the effects of rising spouse abuse, child abuse, molestations of children even.

They’re protesting not out of selfishness.

They’re protesting because they are trying to take care of their own — and the government, for increasingly random, unscientific and medically unsound reasons, is increasingly, frustratingly putting up more and more roadblocks.

It’s a devastating thing to dismiss these people’s very real concerns and fates.

But this is where peer pressure has led — to a powerful groupthink setting where self-sufficiency, and the drive to be self-sufficient, are being painted now as negatives. America, post-COVID-19, could very well emerge as a nation where the prevailing line of thought goes like this: Individual rights are selfish.

And that’s just a short hop, skip and jump from socialism.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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