This article reads almost like a liberal-left version of the traditional conservative view that “freedom is a means to virtue.”
By Umair Haque
By now, you might have heard North Dakota is the world’s worst Covid hotspot. The world’s worst, with South Dakota not far behind. Things aren’t just desperate there — they’re bizarre, at least to the rest of the world. Nurses talk about patients in the Covid ICU lashing out at them because…they don’t believe Covid exists…while they’re dying of it. Meanwhile, the governor refuses to make mask-wearing mandatory, because she thinks that masks and lockdowns don’t work. You might think all that would infuriate Dakotans, but quite the opposite is true: they’re firmly behind her, as they are Donald Trump, the President who let Covid spin out of control, and make North Dakota the world’s worst Covid hotspot.
The rest of the world is staggered by all that, because it is staggering. How many twisted levels of illogic are even in there? Too many to count. People in the world’s worst Covid hotspot dying of Covid who don’t believe Covid exists so they won’t fight Covid and back a President and Governor who’ve just let it explode. It’s so awesomely weird that you can’t really find this level of backwardness and folly anywhere else in the world, which is exactly why Dakota is the world’s worst Covid hotspot. But it’s not just North Dakota. Nine of the ten world’s worst Covid hotspots are American states.
And that is because something went badly, badly wrong in America.
In these states, which are mostly red states, Americans have become effectively martyrs for a certain idea of freedom. They are willing to sacrifice anything — and I mean anything — including themselves, their families, their health and wealth, their futures, their towns and cities, and their democracy. But what good is freedom if it’s just the right to…self-destruct?
America became obsessed with free-dumb: the idea of freedom as the removal of all restraint, the right to harm others, the ability to do anything you please, no matter how destructive, toxic, foolish, or inane. Covid’s a jaw-dropping example of it. Think about the example above: it involves at least three levels of free-dumb. The right to “believe” Covid doesn’t exist, the right not to have to wear a mask, the right not to have to lock down. All these effectively add up to the idea that Americans should be free to infect anyone they please with a lethal disease. What on earth?