Many don’t think you need to shut down everything to stop the coronavirus


Millions of hard-working Americans want to get back to work. Instead of being praised for their industriousness and desire to take care of their families, they face criticism and snide remarks for daring to question the authority of the government or the wisdom of the “experts” who’ve compelled them to stay locked in their homes.

Media reports have too often portrayed these folks in a negative light, even at the expense of accuracy.

A recent media photograph showed a Michigan demonstrator apparently shouting in the face of a masked police officer. As it turned out, that’s not exactly what happened, but that’s not the point.

There have been numerous examples of pictures not being worth any words, much less the full story they’re supposed to tell.

Recently a demonstrator at a Pittsburgh rally opposing additional lockdown orders and promoting getting our state safely back to work and returned to societal normality had her handmade sign featuring the word “free” deliberately altered to appear as something very, very different.

In the doctored version she was depicted, her face in full view, holding a sign that purported to read “Work sets you free.” It was coupled with a spine-chilling photo of the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign on the gate of the Nazi death facility at Auschwitz.

A less horrific example was the unfortunate use of a woman at a similar event in Harrisburg, who had the audacity to misspell the Keystone State on her handmade sign. She was vilified as representing the “imbeciles” who gathered that day to reaffirm their constitutional rights and heartfelt desire to get back to work in order to feed their families.

If truth has been the first casualty in the war against the Wuhan flu, the rights of the citizenry have been right behind.

I attended the Harrisburg rally along with several thousand other “deplorables.” I went with three other people; one of the top lawyers in the commonwealth, another a Harvard graduate who also holds advanced degrees from that school, and the third a law review editor at one of the nation’s most prestigious law schools.

We were all there for the same reasons, to express a fervent desire to get the state back to work, to rescue our economy, return equilibrium to our society and, most important, to affirm what the Attorney General of the United States has so clearly stated, “The Constitution is NOT suspended in time of crisis.”

Several weeks ago, before additional orders to not work and requiring masks were set down, Professor Michael Dimino of Widener Commonwealth Law School and I wrote a column for The Hill, setting forth the limitations on the powers of government even during a pandemic.

Two points about Professor Dimino must be made. First, he has ten times the legal mind that I do, despite the fact that I went to a better law school. (He went to Harvard. I went to Villanova.) Second, he possesses that rare quality known as “judicial temperament.” (One of the reasons why he should wear a black robe and I should not)

Had I written the piece solo, I would have gone much further in setting forth the outrage of government overreach over the Wuhan Flu.

Professor Dimino and I acknowledged that a public-health emergency may justify some limitations on our rights and that halting the spread of this virus was a top priority. We also cautioned that, as Justice Robert Jackson reminded us, “emergency powers . . . tend to kindle emergencies.”

We might have added Lord Acton’s famous, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

It should be of no surprise that many who originally were willing to give deference to the limitations imposed upon them and to “do their part,” are increasingly questioning the wisdom and validity of those rolling sets of edicts and pronouncements.

Many are genuinely skeptical that the shutdowns and lockdowns are truly necessary to stop the virus. After all, we’ve heard very conflicting opinions from the bevy of “experts” upon whom we’ve been asked to rely.

It was the media’s darling, Anthony Fauci, who told us at the end of January, that the Wuhan flu outbreak in China was “a very, very low risk to the United States.” Now we are asked daily to cling to his every word.

To think otherwise is to be labeled a “science denier,” or some other less-enlightened form of life. But the truth is that the experts are often in fundamental disagreement on how best to address the virus. There should be acclaim rather than scorn for those who rightly disagree with the notion that we should be governed by “experts.”

“We the people” is a far better model. Common sense –the intellectual foundation of free government and free people–ought to prevail. Acting together, within our natural rights given by God, we can and should govern ourselves, protect the common good and manage our society together.

One of Pennsylvania’s wisest citizens, Benjamin Franklin, warned us, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Government has a duty to ensure the safety of its citizens. It has the same duty to protect their rights.

Charlie Gerow is a Republican strategist and CEO of Quantum Communications. He and Democrat Mark Singel write opposite each other on PennLive each week and appear on CBS-21’s Face the State Sunday mornings at 8:30

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