A great many of us in this country do not deserve the honor implicit in these words from our National Anthem. And there are many others in this country who actually despise the values inherent in these words. The pandemic trauma of the last two years has been brutally revelatory in what it has shown of our collective lack of courage and character.
Land of the free? We have experienced in this pandemic a comprehensive destruction of our liberties, including restriction of movement, confinement, denial of religious services and the right to assemble, and coerced injection with dangerous, inadequately tested, experimental “vaccines.” All of this was done in the name of a false “common good:” a common good based only on the supposed efficacy of the vaccines and the futile mitigation measures; a common good which included no assessment of the societal impacts of the mitigation measures, such as suicide and mental health issues, child development issues, or economic issues; a common good calculation which failed to factor in the minimal impact of the disease to the great majority of the population; a common good calculation which employed distorted death rates; and a common good calculation which unbelievably and purposely ignored any medical treatment other than the “vaccines.”
Home of the brave? We appear now to be driven by fear. It is difficult to assess which is worse: the assault on our liberties, or the weak and timid way in which most of us have accepted it. Of all of the travesties that we have endured during this last two years, this has got to be the worst: the realization that our vaunted American independence is nothing but a sham. How bitterly disappointing, how very disheartening, how wretchedly tragic.
Among those who look to their faith as the foundation of their lives, perhaps the greatest disappointment in all of this miserable American covid spectacle has to be reserved for the failure of the Catholic Church to challenge government overreach throughout the pandemic. This failure is aptly demonstrated by the USCCB statement on Covid-19, issued in March of 2021, about a year after the pandemic started.  Our bishops, dedicated to the most important mission of all, the salvation of souls, apparently dismissed any consideration of spiritual health as restrictive mandates were decreed, and focused merely on physical suffering, accepting without question the government view of the efficacy of the vaccines, other mandates, and the danger of the virus, and even expanding upon the government’s progressivism by advocating globalist support of a false common good. There is not a single line in that document addressing the critical importance of freedom of religion or the damage done by coercive government mandates to that freedom.
This exposed American frailty, exacerbated by the lack of spiritual support from the Church, is bad enough: but another, more ominous, measure of plunging moral decline has surfaced during this pandemic: the ugly strain of tyrannical behavior which has been manifested in various sectors of our society over the past two years. And I speak not just of federal, state, and local governments. Corporations, teachers unions, the press, big tech and social media, academia, the medical establishment – leadership elites across the board – have all suppressed the free expression of information and activities opposing the party line dictated by the Democrat government and permanent government ruling class. Many otherwise ordinary citizens have taken it upon themselves to physically and verbally attack other citizens who do not toe the party line. The speed with which so many citizens have jumped on the coercion bandwagon is alarming. For two years there has been very little resistance to these totalitarian tendencies suddenly materializing amongst what was once a fiercely independent people who prized above all else the liberty to think and act with independence. I formerly thought that the “struggle sessions” and the indoctrination that happen in Communist countries could never happen here in the land of the free and the home of the brave: now, it is all too evident that such oppression could indeed become a permanent part of the social fabric of our ostensibly free country.
We are witnessing a troubling convergence: a weak, rudderless populace meekly obeisant to an imperious ruling class. This convergence feeds and nourishes the massively dysfunctional autocratic governance we are now experiencing, which is usually found in third world countries not enjoying the rights of a constitutional republic. It probably indicates that the progressive left has finally managed to inflict a critical mass of injuries to our constitutional protections: a critical mass of injuries so severe that we will not now be able to fully recover or maintain our once-cherished rights.
There is currently a certain amount of optimism among conservatives, since the utter ineptitude of the feloniously installed current administration has become obvious even to the most oblivious of citizens. So the political portents bode well for conservatives in the 2022 midterm elections. But I wonder whether that will be a mere political victory of relatively short term value. Even if Republicans take majorities in the Congress, that will not change the underying content of the American character. A Republican victory will likely be driven by such things as inflation and the economy, but will not be reflective of any loyalty to conservative principles such as liberty or independence.
So here is what concerns me. Given the pervasive American infirmity that has now been revealed, what can be expected when the next extended disaster occurs? Autocratic governments and corporations and other power-brokers now have the roadmaps for the implementation of despotism in place and ready to be executed should the the opportunity arise. Let’s say, for example, that the Peoples Republic of China succeeds in engineering a virus which, unlike SARS-CoV-2, is actually really dangerous, a virus which is both highly contagious and also dangerous to a large rather than small percentage of the population. Or suppose the Russians succeed in crippling the U. S. electrical grid with a cyber-attack or an EMP attack, thereby disrupting critical requirements of daily life such as the food supply and utilities. Or – it is not hard to imagine – the current U. S. administration continues to frivolously fulminate about “climate change” and “Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity” issues, and thereby drives the U. S. into a prolonged and devastating economic depression which can also disrupt essential aspects of life. Scenarios like these are not unlikely at all, and will provide new excuses for progressive elites to exercise their totalitarian inclinations. And that could be just around the next fateful corner.
1. Public Affairs Office. “USCCB Administrative Committee Release a Pastoral Message on the COVID-19 Global Pandemic.” USCCB:News:2021. March 9, 2021. https://www.usccb.org/news/2021/us-conference-catholic-bishops-administrative-committee-releases-pastoral-message-covid