What do the COVID protesters want?

The COVID pandemic is causing pain all over. There’s no question about that. The United States and many other countries have been responding with orders to shut down non-essential businesses, and this has put many people out of work. But the efforts to flatten the curve seem to be working, and the projections for the total number of people expected to die are looking much better than before. They’re still projecting a tragic number of deaths, but not nearly as many as we could have. That’s good. At least I think it’s good. In several states, however, there are protests springing up about efforts to keep us safe.


This is clearly a coordinated effort, and the role the president is playing in it upsets me very much. In a string of tweets, he seemed to encourage action against several states.

Screen Shot 2020-04-18 at 3.42.01 PM

I’m not sure what he meant by “liberate,” but that’s usually the language used when talking about forcibly freeing somebody or something from an oppressive force. It’s language used by animal rights activists who want to free laboratory animals, and “liberate the rats” was once spray painted on the door of my research lab. On it’s own, it’s another in a string of provocative tweets by a president who seems more interested in provoking than in leading, but couple it with the protests that are happening, and another tweet by a well-known FoxNews figure, and it’s hard to feel like it’s anything but a call for military action against one of our own states.

Screen Shot 2020-04-18 at 3.46.25 PM

It wouldn’t be the first time that Trump supporters have talked about a civil war. During the impeachment proceedings, there were several references to a ‘second civil war‘ in the event that Trump was found guilty and removed from office.  Alex Jones, a champion for many of Trump’s supporters, has a long history of talking about civil war, although most of his talk is blaming the left for causing it, mostly by trying to take away guns.

During the Trump presidency, for the first time, I was able to imagine a path toward a civil war, but even that wasn’t promoted by the president and it did not come to be. It was just that it suddenly wasn’t hard for me to imagine a situation in which Trump fired Mattis, Mattis refused to leave, and the military followed Mattis instead of Trump. Mattis quit, and wasn’t fired, and we never got to see what would happen. Even then, it seemed super far fetched to me, but possible nevertheless.

But now we have the president calling for states to be “liberated” and we have Ingraham comparing the bravery that our military showed in combat zones to what’s needed to “librate” Virginia, Minnesota, and California (as well as some others in the “etc” category). I’m fairly confident that this is all for show and that it plays into the clear instinct of the president to cause controversy for the sake of controversy, but it still got me thinking a bit about what people would expect or want from a revolution.

Texas has a fertile succession movement and the state motto of New Hampshire is “Live Free or Die,” but when I think about what people who favor this kind of thing want, it makes it harder for me to understand them than I already find it. Let’s think a bit about this.

Imagine that there’s a civil war, led by working class men and women who think it’s unfair that the system isn’t working for them. They hate democrats and republicans and think they’re both heads on the same two-headed snake. The government takes their taxes. The government makes them go through hoops to buy a gun (or prevents them from buying some types of guns). So what looks different in their minds after they win some civil war? Will it look a lot like it does now, but without any abortions (except when their mistresses get pregnant, of course)? Will it look a lot like it does now, except they’ll pay less in taxes (and get even shittier services than they get now)? Will it look a lot like it does now, but without any rules or regulations about which types of guns they can own? What, exactly, does “freedom” look like to these folks?

So, in the end, if they want a civil war, they’re basically saying that thousands dead (probably tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, dead) is a worthy cost for owning a few more guns, for people they don’t know not being allowed to have abortions, and paying a little less in taxes. I’m sure they don’t see it that way, but I really can’t understand what they’re thinking. It seems like they aren’t. They’re trying to get the governors to commit to re-opening businesses, but at what cost? Either by losing more to COVID, or even more to a military intervention? Does that sound sane at all?

I’m so floored by it all and don’t even know how to process it all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s