Why Are So Many Americans Now Hostile to Freedom? | National Review

Why Are So Many Americans Now Hostile to Freedom? | National Review


A person dressed as Uncle Sam attends an anti-mandatory coronavirus vaccine protest held outside New York City Hall in Manhattan, August 9, 2021. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

COVID has really highlighted a long trend in America, namely that many people are hostile to freedom. Not their own freedom, of course, but that of other people who don’t make good decisions. Not the kinds of decisions that people educated at the best universities make.

Writing at RealClearMarkets, John Tamny sees that problem. Many Americans don’t want to get the COVID vaccine. Might they have solid reasons for their choice? The “progressive” authoritarians don’t care.

Writes Tamny, “Whatever the reasons for the unvaccinated remaining that way months into the mass vaccination process, wise minds in the political and scientific class should encourage the right of individuals to refrain, even if they disagree with the holdouts. They should do so because they crave knowledge. Free people making choices without any force are crucial in the face of a spreading virus. Sadly, this truth has been forgotten from Day One of the virus panic.”

His exemplar of the coercive know-it-all is New York Times columnist Charles Blow, who sneeringly writes, “There are Americans who are determined to prove they are right, even if it puts them on the wrong side of a eulogy.” Is he not aware that the evidence — scientific evidence — makes it clear that for healthy people, COVID is seldom worse than the seasonal flu? (I know several people who had it and quickly got over it, just as with the flu.) Why not respect their estimate of the risks?

Many people like Blow believe that they should be able to dictate to others what risks they will take. Should Americans be allowed to engage in risky sports such as skiing, diving, and mountain climbing? We haven’t yet heard Blow’s pronouncements, but since he would insist that healthy people who don’t think that COVID poses any serious risk nevertheless submit to vaccination, it’s hard to see why people should be free to take even greater risks in sports or other activities.

Americans used to be, by and large, a live-and-let-live lot. They were content to mind their own business and allowed others to mind theirs. But the rise of the Nanny State seems to have spawned a huge and growing class of busybodies who think they’re entitled to run their own lives and also entitled to dictate how others will run theirs. This is the exact antithesis of liberalism. It is a return to old social modes where people were expected to obey their superiors.

I doubt that Charles Blow cares whether vaccine dissidents live or die. What he cares about, and dislikes, is that they are exercising their freedom to say “no” when he thinks they should agree to be vaccinated. What such authoritarians don’t understand is that only through liberty can we discover which ideas are good and which are bad.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.





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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.